Fisheries Minister S. Sarma has said the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has carried out development works worth Rs.3,092 crore in the coastal areas during its tenure.

Inaugurating the Matsyafed's fishing net factory at Azheekal here on Monday, the Minister said the government in its budget for 2006-07 had announced that it would implement projects worth Rs.3,000 crore under various schemes for the development of coastal areas in the State.

The fact that the actual amount spent for coastal area development had exceeded the target before the completion of the five-year tenure was unprecedented, he said.

Mr. Sarma said the Kerala University for Fisheries and Ocean Studies opened in Kochi was the first such institution in the country.

He said priority would be given to the children of fish workers in 25 per cent of the seats in the new university.

Over the past five years, the government had spent Rs.416 crore for implementing debt relief for fishermen in two phases, the Minister added.

Listing out the measures taken by the government for the welfare of fish workers, the Minister said the government had introduced five amendments to legislations concerning the fisheries sector.

Engineering and medical students from fish workers' families were given fee concession equivalent to that being offered to students from the Scheduled Communities in engineering and medical colleges, the Minister said.

He also said the fisheries sector in the State had earned foreign exchange of Rs.2,022 crore in the current fiscal.

M. Prakashan, MLA, presided over the function. Municipal chairperson M.C. Sreeja, Azhikode panchayat president K. Pavithran, National Fisheries Development Board Director Vasu Devappa and Matsyafed chairman V.V. Saseendran were present at the function.

The fishing net factory, with an installed capacity of 500 tonnes of net, is expected to benefit 70,000 fish workers. The factory will employ 130 people directly and 200 indirectly.