Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan will formally declare waiver of loans, availed by fishermen for housing and buying of fishing equipments from Matsyafed until 2007, at a function here on January 23.

The Government has already issued orders writing off the loans as per a Cabinet decision on December 9 accepting the recommendations of the Fishermen's Debt Relief Commission.

Fisheries Minister S. Sarma told presspersons here on Tuesday that loans totaling Rs. 126.87 crore were being written off in the first phase as per the recommendations of the Commission appointed by the government. This would benefit 48,355 fishermen. Besides, 9,891 fishermen would benefit from the waiver of housing loans funded by HUDCO through the societies.

The Minister said that the loans taken from cooperative and commercial banks would be considered for waiver by the Commission in the second phase. The Commission had received nearly 1.10 lakh applications for debt waiver and more than half of these had now been acted upon.

While the law enacted for providing the debt relief covered only loans availed by fishermen up to December 31, 2007, the government had already decided to extend the benefit to families of fishermen who had died in accidents after the cutoff date.

He said that the government was implementing various schemes to prevent the fishermen from falling back into the debt trap. These included interest-free loans, revolving fund schemes and schemes to

create employment and market for fish. The government was also providing educational benefits to children of fishermen besides rice at Rs. 2 a kg to all fishermen.