Unless immediate measures are initiated, this will lead to large scale migration, says social activist

Fishermen of Ganjam district, both of marine and inland sector, are a devastated lot after the Phailin Cyclone and the floods caused by continuous rains.

Social activists such as Mangaraj Panda, who work with the fisherman community living on Odisha coast, are of the opinion that unless immediate measures are initiated for proper compensation and restoration of fisheries sector immediately, it may lead to large scale migration of fishermen from the area outside the State in search of work. “Migration of fishermen from this area for better livelihood is not new as the fish yield had started to dwindle in recent years,” Mr. Panda added. The devastating natural calamities have added to the woes of the fisherman community.

The initial assessment of losses to fisheries sector in Ganjam district due to natural calamities in October also shows that the loss was huge. According to the report of the district fisheries officer, the total amount of loss to the fisheries sector was assessed to be around Rs. 9977.05 lakh. The loss was the highest in marine sector at Rs. 6184.50 lakh, while the loss to the inland sector fishery sector in Ganjam district incurred a loss of Rs. 3,682.06 lakh. The fishermen depending on the Chilika lake in Ganjam district also incurred losses of Rs.110.40 lakh.

Worst affected

The traditional marine fishermen living on Ganjam district coast especially those of Gopalpur area, which had faced the landfall of the devastating cyclone are worst affected. As per Samudram, an organisation of women of marine fisherman community, most fisherman families now do not have the means of livelihood as their boats and nets have been damaged by the cyclone.

Boats damaged

In marine sector, a total of 2,460 boats were completely damaged, while 944 were damaged partially. Apart from it, 2,460 motor engines used in fishing boats were also damaged. In inland fishery sector boats and nets of fishermen were also severely damaged although it was less than that of marine fishery sector. The total loss of inland fishery sector due to cyclone and rain amounted to Rs. 2032.06 lakh. The tanks and ponds used for pisciculture were also devastated by the cyclonic storm and the floods. Around 1,650 hectares of tanks and ponds were damaged leading to an approximate loss of Rs. 1,650 lakh. It may be noted that 11,218 tanks and ponds are used for inland fishery in Ganjam.