Pramod Madhwaraj seeks bailout package for fishermen
He says BJP govt. has let them down during pandemic
Former Fisheries Minister Pramod Madhwaraj on Thursday alleged that the BJP government that came to power in the State and at the Centre with the help of fishermen has ignored the communityhit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Notwithstanding whether the sops announced by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Friday would reach the targeted group, it was painful that a large proportion of vulnerable sections including fishermen have been ignored, he said. Marine fishing has been the backbone of the three coastal districts and its woes have only amplified after the lockdown.
Speaking to reporters here, Mr. Madhwaraj said fishermen did not receive diesel subsidy since six months while K. Abhayachandra Jain, who was the Fisheries Minister in the Siddaramaiah government, had facilitated direct benefit transfer of subsidy. The COVID-19 restrictions have only amplified their woes, he said adding BJP had “emotionally used the community” to come to power. The governments instead have brought fishing gears under goods and services tax, he regretted.
Ancillary industries depending upon marine fishing too were in distress with non-availability of raw material and many products under GST. Export subsidies too have been removed thereby affecting frozen fish industries, fish mills and others.
The situation of inland fishing sector and inland fishermen too was no different. . The Congress government’s efforts to allocate the right of fishing in inland reservoirs to fishermen community was stalled through a court stay and the present government did not make any efforts to get the stay vacated, Mr. Madhwaraj said.
Though the BJP government recently waived loans taken by fisherwomen, the benefit did not reach many. The rule that those had availed themselves of the loan waiver facility could not get fresh loans was condemnable, he said.
He urged the government to rush to the rescue of fishermen by extending the loan repayment period by six months, immediately releasing subsidy and offering them a package.
Mr. Jain, DK Youth Congress President Mithun Rai and others were present.