Some of the boats have suffered extensive damage in attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy

Even while mechanised boat fishermen are busy setting right their boats and nets, taking advantage of the 45-day ban period, fishermen’s associations have urged the government to hike the compensation paid to fishermen for livelihood loss during the ban period. The two boating jetties in Jegathapattinam and Kottaipattinam coastal villages in the district are brimming with 750 mechanised boats anchored since April 15 – the date on which the ban commenced. Fishermen from other districts, who have been staying here, have already left for their villages.

About 2,500 fishermen and their families utilise the spare time to repair their nets, which costs between Rs.5, 000 and Rs.10, 000.

Depending on the extent of repair work needed, the maintenance work of mechanised boats is done either on the water or at the shore. While small repair works are carried out at anchored position, major repairs are carried out by moving the boats to the shore.

The fishermen will have to spend a minimum of Rs.1lakh for repairing the boats. Some of the boats have suffered an extensive damage in attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy. A few boats were seized by the Sri Lankan authorities and were released after a prolonged delay. These boats needed major repairs involving huge expenditure. Fishermen who have already suffered a big loss owing to the ban are facing an additional burden of undertaking the repair works, lament the local fishermen associations. Both the Central and the State government should come forward to bear the expenses involved in repairing the boats, they said.

Meanwhile, the State government has provided a compensation of Rs.2,000 to each mechanised boat fishermen.

Kuttiyandi, president, Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association of Jegathapattinam, said if the government factors in the heavy loss of livelihood suffered by fishermen, the relief was paltry and the government should hike it to Rs.4,000.

The government should also increase the subsidy provided to fishermen for procuring freezer box, net, rope etc., besides hiking the monthly quota of subsidised diesel for each mechanised boat from 1,500 litres to 2,000 litres, Mr.Kuttiyandi added.