It’s an uncertain existence for these fishermen in Karwar

Women drying fish in the open yard at the harbour at Baitakol in Karwar.— PHOTO: GOVIND D. BELGAUMKAR

Women drying fish in the open yard at the harbour at Baitakol in Karwar.— PHOTO: GOVIND D. BELGAUMKAR  

For the last month, many of them have not been catching any fish

Sanjeev T. Hergekar, a fisherman from Baitakol in Karwar, always dreamt of sending his three children to English-medium schools. But owing to financial constraints, he has been able to send only one child to school. Unfortunately, his school-going daughter has suffered paralysis.

Adding to his woes, he has hardly caught any fish in the last one month. He has to survive on Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 that the owner of his boat gives him a day. He will get paid more only if he gets a good catch.

Uncertain about their future, Mr. Hergekar and other fishermen have little hope that the next government will find solutions to their problems. About 40,000 fisherfolk can vote in the May 5 elections, according to P.M. Tandel, president of the Akhila Karnataka Fishermen’s Parishat here.

Another fisherman, Naveen D. Harikantra, pointed out: “We did venture into the sea three or four times but we returned without fish and each time the loss was around Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 4,000.”

He recently took a loan of Rs. 10,000 from a moneylender to admit his son to an English-medium school, for an interest of 24 per cent.

To a question on why he doesn’t get a bank loan, Mr. Harikantra said: “Which bank will give us a loan? They ask for so many documents which we cannot get.”

There are 30-odd women who dry fish in the open yard at the harbour. They too face the problem of uncertainincomes. They said that they had no shelter from the rain and sun, and added that they didn’t even have a toilet. “Both the government and leaders have let them down,” said Vittal Bhandari, State secretary of Samudaya, a Leftist cultural forum.

The fishermen pointed out that though Karwar MLA Anand Asnotikar was Minister for Fisheries, he did little for them.

Fishermen’s leader Mr. Tandel said: “The BJP government did not implement many of our proposals aimed at reducing poverty among fishermen.” He said the government failed to make loans at 1 per cent interest available to fishermen. The demand for interest-free loans for higher education and loans for fisherwomen were also not extended. Fishermen here were also not allowed to build houses close to the shoreline unlike in neighbouring States, which had relaxed CRZ rules, Mr. Tandel said.

‘Government and leaders have let them down’

‘Loans at 1 p.c. interest not being made available’

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