Adversely affected by Tauktae, Gujarat fisherfolk demand higher compensation

Fisherfolks’ delegation which represented to the Fisheries Commissioner

Fisherfolks’ organisations* write to Fisheries Commissioner, Gandhinagar, to announce an increase in the compensation package as well as the inclusion of those who have been presently excluded from the relief package:

We are writing this to represent the concern of the fishermen affected by the hurricane in the area of Shialbet of Amreli district, Piplikantha area of Jafrabad, urban area of Jafrabad, Chanch port, Dhara port, as well as Syed Rajpara of Gir Somnath district, Syed Rajpara, Nawa Bandar and Simar. More than one lakh fishermen from Mahuva port, Katpar port of Mahuva taluka as also migrant labourers have been severely affected by the cyclone that hit the coast of Gujarat from 17/5/21-19/5/21. Considering the said situation, the government had also announced a relief package of Rs. 105 Crore. However, the assistance that has been announced is not enough to compensate the losses incurred by the fishermen and many of the affected people are left out of this package.

We, the fishermen, affected by the hurricane, make a humble request to you, that:

1) The aid package announced by the government provides that Rs. 2000 be provided to the Khalasi fisherfolks. The reality is that due to breakdown of many fishing boats, many boats will not be able to run for the next one year, the fishing business will not be able to commence, and due to this the fishing sailors of Amreli and Gir Somnath would remain unemployed. The situation is so sensitive that the fishermen have become destitute and are fighting for their livelihood. Due to the fishing business not continuing, the fishermen of Amreli and Gir Somnath districts have become jobless, hence, the life of the fishermen is in dire state. Therefore, for the next 6 months instead of Rs. 2000 it is demanded that Rs. 5,000 be paid to each fisherman or sailor as assistance.

2) In Amreli and Gir Somnath districts, women fisherfolks work day and night on the coastal jetty just like fishermen work in the sea. In Amreli and Gir Somnath districts, more than 40,000 women fisherfolks work in a similar way to support their families. The hurricane has robbed thousands of women fisherfolks of their livelihood. Such working women are mostly from the poorest families of the society. Despite 40,000 women becoming unemployed, the government has not announced any relief for the women fisherfolks in the package. We, therefore, demand that every working fisherwoman be paid Rs.5000 thousand per month for the next 6 months.

3) Many small and big fishing boats in Amreli and Gir Somnath districts have been completely destroyed. The government has announced Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh as assistance for the boat damage. However, the fact is that the assistance of Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 5 by the government is very meagre considering the worth of the boat is around Rs 35-40 lakhs. Hence, the boat owners aren’t being provided with the actual financial assistance that they truly require to restart their fishing business. Therefore, if the government decides to extend a loan of Rs 35 to 40 lakh to each such boat owner, then the fishing business can be hopefully started, and hence in this regard the boat owners demand that the government extends a loan of about Rs. 35 to 40 lakh.

4) The government has announced an assistance of Rs. 35,000 and Rs. 75,000 for the loss of boat equipment. But this assistance is not sufficient and we are demanding an increase in the same in view of the following losses: a) One boat has 4 nets of Rs 1 lakh each, which amounts to a net loss of Rs 4,00,000. b) Loss of Rs. 50,000 – GPS and wireless devices. c) Loss of the solar panel, battery, inverter, power supply etc. in the boat cost Rs 50,000. d) Loss of two fish crates worth Rs 50,000. e) Loss of gas bottles, ration goods, utensils etc. of Rs. 15,000. f) Every boat has diesel of around 300 to 800 litres, wherein due to the hurricane there is a loss of around Rs. 30,000 to 80,000. Hence, instead of declaring Rs 35,000 to Rs 75,000 as assistance for lost boat equipment, considering all the losses above, Rs 5,00,000 lakh is demanded as compensation.

5) That the boat owners’ dried fish, fresh fish and stocked fish have been destroyed, causing an estimated loss of Rs 3,00,000 to Rs 5,00,000 lakh to the boat owners. Unfortunately no compensation has been given in the package for such loss, and hence they must be compensated.

Centre for Social Justice, Rajula, which organised the fisherfolk

6) At the ports, the boat owners dry their fish on the lands prepared for drying fish by the fishermen at their own cost. These lands are built to dry the fish on the shores but such lands have been eroded so much that large pits have been created which makes these lands not suitable for drying fish. Hence, a special plan should be prepared so that these lands can be restored and fishermen can do their business.

7) That in Amreli and Gir, many boat owners have lost their boat licenses and other documents have been destroyed due to the hurricane in Gir Somnath ports. Hence there is a demand to assist them with relation to it.

8) That for the families of the fisherman who died during the cyclone, the government has announced a total of 6 lakh assistance. However that should be increased to Rs. 15,00,000.

9) Those who had not used their boats for fishing in the last 2-3 years, have been excluded from the package for compensation of damage to boats. Hence, they must be assisted, despite them not using the boats, therefore these boats must be re-surveyed and boat owners must be compensated.

10) That those fishermen that migrated to ports like Jafrabad and Saud Rajpara for employment had built houses and huts but the hurricane has destroyed many such unfinished houses and huts in the ports. That despite this no survey has been done on the same. The relief package announced by the government has not provided any assistance to such migrant fishermen with relation to their houses and huts destroyed, hence they must be surveyed and be provided immediate assistance.

11) That the coastal ports of Amreli and Gir Somnath districts have been hit hard by the cyclone and the lack of power connection and other cold storage facilities has resulted in the loss of fresh fish stored by fresh fish traders, and in this situation, the fisherfolks must be provided with compensation.

12) That the registered fishermen in Amreli and Gir Somnath districts have been demanding compensation of Rs 1,00,000 for their small oars, boats, nets and other equipment destroyed in the hurricane, and that they must be compensated.

13) That due to the non-registration of the fishermen’s boats, fishermen are operating the boats through rent. The compensation package however only provides compensation to those who have registered boats. It is demanded that whether those reporting damage to boats are registered or not, they should be compensated for the losses incurred.

14) Fishermen living along the coast have built huts which have existed for many years. They live in mud houses. The hurricane has damaged the huts of many such fishermen. No survey has been conducted by the government or no cash assistance has been paid to them. Hence it is required to survey all such fishermen and pay appropriate compensation.

15) The compensation package provided cash assistance on the basis of age, 100 rupees per day for an adult and 60 rupees per day for a minor. However, while providing the cash assistance, the age was determined on the basis of the age mentioned in the ration card. As a result, many people who were adults at the time of the cyclone were provided cash assistance for minors, as their ration cards showed them as minors.

16.) Because of the migratory nature of the work of the fisherfolks, many have two houses, one that is their permanent home and one where they reside during their work. Because of this, many have missed the survey of their other houses (where they were not residing at the time of the survey). It is demanded that they be provided assistance regardless of the fact that they were not added to the survey.

We request an action for the above.

Looking forward to your cooperation.

*Yours faithfully,

  • Fishermen Interest Protection Union, Shiyalbet
  • Sant Shelaiya Mahila Mandal, Shiyalbet
  • Ramdev Education Trust, Shiyalbet
  • Shiyalbet Swayam Sevak Sangh
  • Sagar Khedu Trust, Jafrabad
  • Jal Kanya Matsya Udyog Seva Sahakari Mandali Rajpara Bandar. Una
  • Daria Dil Machhimar Hak Rakshak Sangh Syed Rajpara, Ta. Una
  • Resistance Committee Una.
  • Khodiyar Mandal Dharabandar
  • Fisherfolk in the Rajula region

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