Special Correspondent

KOZHIKODE: The hike in traditional fishermen’s contribution to the Fishermen’s Welfare Fund has been condemned by the Traditional Fishermen’s Protection Committee. A march to the Collectorate in Kozhikode and a dharna will be held by the committee on Thursday in protest against the government’s alleged insensitivity to fishermen’s problems.

“Fishermen’s contribution has been raised by three to four times …. It would be an unbearable financial burden for these poor fishermen,” V.M. Rajeevan, secretary of the committee, said here on Monday.

The contribution of in-board boatmen has been raised from Rs.5,000 to Rs.15,000; the contributions from those using canoes is up from Rs.120 to Rs.480; the individual contribution has been doubled to Rs.100. But each fisherman would have to pay Rs.150 since the hike has been made with retrospective effect and fishermen have to pay the previous years’ arrears also. “This hike had been made unilaterally… fishermen were not consulted,” Mr. Rajeevan said.

He alleged that the decision to increase traditional fishermen’s contribution was a trick to help seafood exporters escape their responsibility to clear huge arrears of their contribution to the welfare fund. “The government had not taken any step to make seafood exporters pay the arrears… no step has been taken to collect the arrears due from big-time fish merchants either.”