Bill seeks to replace an Ordinance that reduced the quorum for sittings of the Commission from three to two members

Minister for Ports and Fisheries K. Babu told the Assembly on Monday that cooperative banks and others had been told not to alter or review the orders of the Kerala Fishermen Debt Relief Commission on debt relief for fishermen.

Clear orders had been issued in this regard, he said.

The Minister was replying to the debate on the Kerala Fishermen Debt Relief Commission (Amendment) Bill, which the House later referred to the Subject Committee. The Bill seeks to replace an Ordinance that reduced the quorum for sittings of the Commission from three to two members.

Mr. Babu said reduction of the quorum would enable the five-member commission to simultaneously hold two separate sittings in districts.

He admitted that though Rs.50 crore had been budget for debt relief for fishermen during the current year, not even Rs.20 crore had been spent. The moratorium on loans the fishermen had availed themselves of had been extended till the end of the year as the Commission could not dispose of all the applications seeking relief.

He said the government had built 6,573 houses for fishermen during the last two years against the 6,500 built by the previous government over five years. Members complained that some cooperative banks adjusted relief sanctioned by the Commission wrongly.