Union Agriculture Minister meets NFF delegation
Agrees to implement several demands
Union Agriculture Minister Shri Sharad Pawar received a delegation of senior leaders of National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF), today, for discussion on various issues related to fisheries and fishworkers. The delegation handed over a Charter of Demands to the Minister and sought immediate intervention of the Ministry into the matters raised therein.
After in-depth discussion on the demands, in a major victory for the fishworkers, Shri Sharad Pawar assured positive action on the following issues on a priority basis:
The Ministry of Agriculture will ensure adequate supply of kerosene oil at PDS rates for the purpose of fishing. The Ministry will share the expenses incurred on this account.
The Ministry will take up the issue of debt waiver for the fishers with concerned authorities to sort out technicalities of the matter so that indebted fishers are not deprived of the benefit of the debt waiver. [Presently, fishworkers are indebted to their co-operative societies and are defaulters. However, since many of these fishworkers' co-operative societies have repaid their loans to their principal lenders, the individual fishworker's debt is not reflected. This is the reason why they are technically not treated as eligible for debt waver.]
The Ministry will take up the issue of exorbitant custom duties, Cess, VAT etc. presently charged on out-board motors (Currently charged @ 28%) and would ensure that taxation on such motors and spare parts are at par with the agricultural machinery inputs (tractors, pumps, spare parts, etc.) @ 4%.
The Minister agreed to pursue the demand for exemption of road cess – currently charged at the rate of Rs.1.50 per litre – on the diesel used for fishing.
The Minister shared the agony of the fishing community caused by the draft Coastal Management Zone Notification (CMZ) issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. He also expressed his concern over the loss of livelihood of traditional fishers due to imposition of various bans and restrictions on fishing. He has taken the initiative to hold a joint meeting of the Minister of State for MoEF, the NFF delegation and himself on 10th November – to discuss these contentious issues.
The NFF delegation is informed that the Ministry of Agriculture is working for a comprehensive fisheries legislation for the EEZ. MoA also had inter-ministerial meetings with the Ministry of Labour on ILO convention on work in fishing. Both the matters are being pursued.
The Hon’ble Union Minister for Agriculture has provided NFF and the millions of fishworkers across the country reasons to celebrate. However, NFF will continue to pursue the key issue of withdrawal of CMZ Notification with all the concerned ministries and the Prime Minister’s Office.
Harekrishna Debnath ND Koli
Chairperson General Secretary
Contacts: 09434039599 / 9868066195 / 26680914