Where are India’s Fisherworkers for the Govt in its Budget ?

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: July 12, 2019

Concerns of fisherworkers not taken into account who allege that there is a greater focus in Budget 2019 on processing and management


The Union budget presented on July 4, seems to have disappointed many communities including fisherworkers. The Kerala SwatantaraMatsyathozhilali Federation, a body of fisherworkerssaid that the Union Budget has let the fishers down. The Federation’s president Kackson Pollayil said that the budget neglected them, denying their pleas for subsidy on kerosene and diesel and a waiver of their debts. The request for a cut in the GST levied on fishing equipment and compensation to those affected by natural disasters was also neglected, reportedly.

Pollayil called for steps to prevent foreign fishing vessels from fishing in Indian waters. He also asked for a ban on pair and bull trawling. Pair trawling has been reportedly been the reason for low catch in the Malabar coast. National Fish Workers’ Forum general secretary blamed unscientific construction of breakwaters for sea erosion.

While presenting the budget, Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman announced a new scheme which will promote processing in the fishery sector and allocated an estimated Rs. 3737 crore for a new ministry namely Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying. Although, the emphasis of the schemes appears to be to “address critical gaps in the value chain, including infrastructure, modernisation, traceability, production, productivity, post-harvest management, and quality control”, however there hardly seems any emphasis on protecting the lives and livelihood of traditional fisherfolks who are impacted by large scale fishing and climate change.

The scheme will be known as PradhanMantriMatsyaSampadaYojana (PMMSY) and has been established under the Department of Fisheries. Of the total budget allocated to the new ministry, Rs 2,932.25 crore is estimated to be spent on various schemes to promote animal husbandry and dairying, while Rs 804.75 crore for the fisheries sector in the current fiscal.

However, fisherfolks have different concerns. A fisherman from Chaliyam, whose fishing boat was destroyed during the Kerala floods, reportedly incurred a loss of over Rs. 1 lakh, but the compensation sanctioned to him was only Rs. 9000. Federation secretary Abdul Rasik said the compensation for boats damaged during the rescue operations were sanctioned only two weeks ago. The leaders of the two organisations plan to meet the Union Fisheries Minister to highlight the issues faced by the traditional fishing community.

Earlier, in 2018, in a Dangerous Setback to Coastal Planning and Safeguards in India, the Union Cabinet had approved Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2018.

In a press release issued by the press information bureau, it was confirmed that the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2018 has been approved by the union cabinet. This executive legislature will replace the CRZ 2011.

The draft CRZ 2018 put out for public comments was opposed strongly by fisher groups on grounds that commercial interests like industries, tourism and real estate were prioritised over coastal ecology and livelihoods. The current development indicates that none of the feedback offered by fisherfolk and civil society has been incorporated.

Major Dilutions included -
  • De-freezing of FSI in coastal areas, making way for high rises.
  • No Development Zones reduced.
  • Special considerations for tourism, defence and strategic projects.
  • Decentralising CRZ clearance procedures.
  • Opening up rural coastal areas for buildout.