Staff Correspondent

Acharya says local bodies will help establish fish markets

Udupi: Home Minister V.S. Acharya said on Monday that the Government was committed to the welfare of fisherwomen.

He was speaking at the inaugural function of the Udupi Taluk Mahila Hasi Meenu Maratagarara Sangha (Udupi Taluk Women Fish-traders’ Association) here.

Markets opened

Dr. Acharya said that the Government had opened two modern fish markets at Kaup and three such markets in Udupi for fisherwomen. The respective gram panchayat and urban local bodies would extend all help to construct modern fish markets in their jurisdiction, he said.

The demand for providing benches for fisherwomen to sit and sell and for fixing slabs at a height to keep fish in the market would be considered. The other demand for dropping the proposal to create cold storage facilities in coastal districts, as it would bring down the demand for fresh fish, would also be considered, Dr. Acharya said.

If the fisherwomen agreed to pay a small premium, the Government was keen on providing health insurance cover to them. The Government sales tax exemption for diesel used by fishermen up to 75,000 kilolitres in the 2009-10 State budget was likely to be increased by about 20 per cent to 90,000 kilolitres in the next budget, he said.

CRZ norms

There were complaints of fishermen not being allowed to build houses near the coast by the officials, as it was in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, he said and added that he would discuss this issue with the authorities concerned.

Inaugurating the association, former Minister Shobha Karandlaje urged the Government to provide cold storage facilities for fish in districts such as Bangalore, Hassan and Shimoga, where fish was not easily available, instead of in coastal districts. “Fresh fish is good for health. The livelihood of fisherwomen in coastal districts is dependent on sale of fresh fish,” she said.

The Government had provided Rs. 3.2 crore for the Matsya Swavalambana Scheme for Udupi district. Nearly 1,250 houses were constructed for fishermen under the Matsyashraya scheme. “Fisherwomen lead their life the hard way as they have to wake up at 4 a.m. and retire at 11 p.m. daily. It is heartening to note that they have organised themselves,” Ms. Karandlaje said.

President of the Association Baby S. Kanchan, secretary Appi M. Bangera, MLAs Raghupati Bhat, Lalaji Mendon Halady Srinivas Shetty and MLCs Kota Srinivas Poojary, Ganesh Karnik were among those present.