Fish workers’ unions have flayed the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday, accusing it of ignoring their legitimate demands to provide livelihood support and modernise the fisheries sector.
Terming the budget as disappointing, the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) said the budget allocation of Rs.575.34 crore for the fisheries sector fell far short of expectations. “The government has belied our hopes,” NFF chairperson M. Ilango and national secretary T. Peter said in a pressnote issued here.
“Our long-pending demands for a separate ministry for fisheries and fishers’ welfare and recognising the fishermen community as a tribe have again been overlooked. The government has failed to deliver on its commitment to address our concerns in this budget. The promises made in the national fisheries policy of the BJP in 2010 also remain on paper.”
The press note said the government had shattered the hopes of the sector by slashing the budgetary allocation by 10 per cent. “There was not even a mention of the fishermen community in the 100-minute budget speech by the Finance Minister.”
The All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators’ Association said the budget lacked any constructive proposal to revive and modernise the fisheries sector and equip it for sustainable exploitation of marine resources. General Secretary of the association Joseph Xavier Kalappurackal alleged that the budget had exposed the government’s intention to open up the sector to foreign players.
“Our proposal for a pilot scheme to replace the country’s ageing, outdated fishing fleet with modern vessels has been given the short shrift. There is no mention of livelihood support schemes or upgradation of fish landing centres in the Finance Minister’s budget speech,” Mr. Joseph said. “The government has lost another opportunity to utilise our skills and resources for sustainable exploitation of fisheries,” he said.
NFF is organising a rally at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, on March 10 .
Government accused of gross neglect
Unions allege failure to honour commitments