Tamil Nadu

Fishermen yet to be paid for helping with flood relief work

Fishermen, who helped residents during the monsoon in October-November, are yet to be paid for their services.

Neelakantan of Nochikuppam, who along with other boat owners had sent 22 boats to rescue stranded residents at places, including Velachery, Royapuram and Ashok Nagar, said the men were clamouring for money.

Livelihood troubles

“It has now been two months, and since our income has been hit due to lack of fishing activities owing to rough seas, we were hoping the money would be distributed by Pongal. But that was not to be. The local officials of the Fisheries Department have been telling us that they are yet to get the amount from the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC),” he said.

K. Bharathi of the South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association said it was taking time due to the large amount needed.

Around 250 men were deployed along with their boats during the rescue operations, and they stayed put for as long as it required. In some cases, this was even up to 20 days.

“The Fisheries Department said only some paperwork remained before they can disburse the money. During the previous years, we did not wait for the money, it used to be settled quickly,” he said.

Sources in the Corporation said that they paid ₹2.5 lakh per village in advance before engaging the boats.

“We are indebted to the fishermen. They helped us in our time of need, and they are ready to lend a hand at any time. During the flood, we provided them with food and places to stay. We are waiting for a final bill from the Fisheries Department to settle the due,” an official source said.

Billing delay

Sources in the Fisheries Department said bills towards expenses totalling ₹1.26 crore, including damage caused to boats, for fishermen from Chennai, Tiruvallur, Chengalpattu and Kancheepuram district had been readied and were in the process of being sent to the respective authorities in these districts.

“It took us time to tally advances paid to these men for travel. As far as damages are concerned, we have fixed it as per government norms. We will disburse the amount soon,” an official said.

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Printable version | May 29, 2022 10:04:15 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/fishermen-yet-to-be-paid-for-helping-with-flood-relief-work/article38288880.ece