Home Ministry's national coastal security programme

About 2,00,000 seagoing fishermen in Kerala will receive biometric smart cards for identification this year as part of a national coastal security programme launched by the Ministry of Home Affairs.The State Fisheries Department is in the process of compiling the personal details of fishermen for preparation of the cards. Fisheries Minister K. Babu said the cards were expected to be distributed from March. “About 80 per cent of the fishermen registered with the welfare fund board have been enrolled for issue of biometric cards. The mop-up operations will be completed soon,” Mr. Babu said.The Department had collected photographs, iris scans, and fingerprints from the fishermen. ITI, Palakkad, had been entrusted with the preparation of the biometric cards. Field-level officers from the welfare fund board were in charge of enumeration for the programme. Fisheries Director C.A. Latha said the cards would be made mandatory for all sea-going fishermen as part of a national coastal security plan formulated by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks on November 26, 2008. She said the data-entry process for preparation of the cards was on. Joint director S. Ajayan said the data collection exercise was facing a hitch because of the lack of response from a section of the fishermen engaged in deep-sea fishing. “Many of them return home after months in other States, from where they launch fishing forays. We may have to decide on a cut-off date if the cards are to be issued from March,” he said. Mr. Ajayan said the cards would make it easier to keep a tab on the coast.

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