Lack of awareness keeps fishermen from welfare schemes
Srinagar, Dec 18: Despite a few government schemes for their uplift, not many fishermen are coming forward to take benefit. The fishermen blame the authorities for not publicizing the schemes.
The department of Fisheries, government of J&K, has been implementing two major schemes under the welfare measures for fishermen since 1995 with the assistance of government of India.
One among the schemes is housing scheme for fishermen that offers construction of low-cost houses for houseless fishermen, where as a free insurance cover is provided to the fishermen under the other scheme.
“We have got 10,000 licensed and professional fishermen besides over a couple of thousand workers throughout the state,” said Farooq Ahmad Sheikh, assistant director, headquarters.
He said till date they have been able to construct 1480 houses for fishermen throughout J&K under the housing scheme.
“When housing scheme was launched in 1995 at all-India level, it was stated that the houseless fishermen, who possessed their own land, shall be provided a financial assistance of Rs 35,000 for construction of houses under this scheme, of which half of the money shall be provided by the government of India and half by the state government. Now that amount is raised to Rs 50,000. Although state did not provide the whole amount, yet we managed somehow to construct the houses,” said Sheikh.
Under insurance scheme for fishermen launched by the central government, an insurance cover of a fixed amount is provided free of cost to the fishermen.
According to the officials, the department has so far paid Rs 65 lakh to the beneficiaries under this scheme.
“If any fisherman meets an accidental death during fishing or marketing of fish, we provide his family an insurance of Rs 1 lakh. They don’t need to pay anything, but only have to get the license,” said Asifa Khan, Senior Project Officer, Fisheries department.
“In case of permanent disablement, the fisherman gets Rs 50,000,” she said.
The officials said so far they have settled 205 such claims. “Right now also our 35 cases are pending with the government of India,” said Sheikh.
Besides, a centrally-sponsored one-time scheme namely Prime Minister’s Employment Package was launched in J&K in 2005, under which the department of Fisheries was asked to establish 410 units in the private sector at an estimated cost of Rs 492 lakh and each beneficiary was provided Rs 1.20 lakh on account of cost of construction, seeds, feed, equipments and other things.
“This scheme was first of its kind in J&K and was remained so much successful that we have created 480 ponds till date under it. So we wanted to continue with it, but since it was one-time scheme, hence we have now shifted it to our own plan,” said Sheikh.
Apart from these schemes, he said, they have a few local schemes as well that they implement in coordination with the Social Welfare Department.
“Under these schemes, we provide nylon twine, baskets, boat and net free to the fishermen. Then we also provide per-matric scholarship to the children of fishermen. All they have to do is to catch the fish and sell it,” he said.
Officials said the department provided license to fishermen at Rs 400 per year. “This means a fisherman has to pay just slightly above a rupee per day for fishing. And in exchange of mere Rs 400, he becomes eligible for free insurance cover, free nylon, free boat and net, house and scholarship,” said Sheikh.
“Besides,” he said, “whatever schemes are under execution at the moment, once they will be completely commissioned, it will give further boost to the fish production both in the private and public sectors.”
The fishermen accuse the government of not disseminating the information on a massive scale about these schemes. “We are unable to take advantage of these schemes because we don’t know anything about them,” said a group of fisherwomen.
They said they have never heard of these schemes. “There has never been any awareness problem by the government to educate us about these schemes,” they said.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Dec 2009 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Dec 2009 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 Dec 2009 00:00:00 IST
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