ANDHRA PRADESH

CPI(M) urges relief to fishermen

HYDERABAD Oct. 5. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has termed the drought relief measures announced by the State Cabinet `inadequate' and a rehash of old measures announced over two months ago.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, the party leader, B.V. Raghavulu, said that the Cabinet announcement on drought relief made no mention of the Food- for-Work programme nor did it speak about measures to help fishermen and washermen who were facing severe problems due to scanty rainfall.

While one lakh tonnes of rice was still due to be paid to agricultural workers for work done under previous FFW programmes, there was another two lakh tonnes of rice still with the State Government but the Government had stopped the FFW programme.

Low water levels in reservoirs and lakes has led to a sharp drop in fish catches and was causing problems for fishermen.

Still fishermen's cooperatives were being forced to pay rentals and no measures had been announced to help the washermen whose livelihood was threatened.

Mr. Raghavulu demanded immediate measures for alleviating these problems and criticised the Government for missing out on these issues in drought relief.

He added that unscrupulous elements were already pushing up the prices of essential goods.

Drawing attention to the threat to the standing crop in the Krishna delta and areas irrigated by Nagarjunasagar, Mr. Raghavulu said that either some more water needs to be released to save this crop or the Government should come up with a proper compensation package.

Apart from demanding these measures, Mr. Raghavulu said that an emergency meeting of district Collectors should be convened and special officers appointed in each district to monitor drought relief.

He also wanted the Union Government to call a meeting of Chief Ministers from all drought-affected States to work out a comprehensive national-level plan to tackle the grim situation.

Mr. Raghavulu announced that the CPI(M) would hold dharnas in all districts to highlight these issues and bring the force of public opinion on the Government.

He also appealed to people to represent their local problems to the Government and voice their concerns publicly.

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