NFF Demands separate Ministry for Fisheries at the Centre:
Delegation meets ministers to demand stopping of anti-fisherpeople projects including Kudankulam Nuke project and the pipeline project in Kerala
New Delhi 17th Dec 2011: A delegation of National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) and support groups in Delhi met with the union ministers at the centre and demanded that a separate central ministry for fisheries be immediately formalized by the UPA Government. Speaking to media persons after the meetings, Shri T. Peter, Secretary, NFF reminded the UPA that this was going to be the most contentious issue since Congress and other UPA partners have often supported this demand of fishworkers, without any concrete action being taken to materialize the same. “we demand establishment of a separate Fisheries Ministry in the Government of India as this sector involves more than 25 million people, vitally contributes to the food security of the country and is still neglected”, added Mr. Peter.
The delegation comprised of leaders of NFF, along with Vijayan MJ of Delhi Forum, Madhuresh Kumar of National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM), Ashok Choudhary of National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW) and Amar of National Hawkers’ Federation (NHF), met with Prof. KV Thomas (In-charge, Minister of state, Ministry of Agriculture), Mr. KC Venugopal (Minister of State, Ministry of Power) and submitted memorandums to Shri. AK Anthony (Defence Minister), Shri. Sharad Pawar (Agricultural Minister) and the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh.
The delegation met with the Power Minister Shri Venugopal to demand that the coastal gas pipeline project in Kerala – from Kochi LNG Terminal to Kayamkulam Thermal Power Plant, be scrapped by the Centre. The delegation briefed the Minister about the threat posed by such a project, since it destroys the sea, the coast and the livelihood of many fishworkers in Kerala’s coast. The Minister assured the delegation that the government will not take any decision that will negatively impact the lives of the fisherpeople of Kerala.
The other demands made by the delegation included:
- Stop Free Trade Agreements and Foreign Direct Investment in retail trade in the Fisheries Sector and that the Fishworkers must be consulted before entering into any trade agreement involving the Fisheries Sector.
- Stop the building of Nuclear Power Plants at Kudankulam, Gorakhpur and Jaitapur.
- Stop setting up of thermal power plants with captive ports on the coast and also setting up of new private ports.
- Object the imposition of Marine Protected Areas with blanket ban on fishing at Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, Malvan in Maharashtra, Gulf of Munnar in Tamil Nadu, Gahirmata and Bhitarkanika in Orissa and Sundarban Tiger Reserve in West Bengal; and demand consultation with and participation of the coastal fishworkers in the proposition and management of ecologically sensitive coastal areas.
- A comprehensive legislation to rationalize the fisheries sector with reference to fishing vessels, gears, efforts and fish resources ensuring preferential access of small and traditional fishers to the stock of fish in Indian waters.
- Ban on Bottom Trawling and Purse-Seining in the territorial waters. In Maharashtra and Gujarat Bottom Trawling and Purse-Seining should be prohibited even well beyond the territorial waters, where traditional fishing takes place on large scale.
- Ratification and implementation of ILO Convention No.188 for Work in Fishing for all coastal fishworkers of the country.
- Immediate implementation of Unorganised Workers Social Security Act 2008 with reference to all fishworkers of the country.
- Implementation of remaining 40 recommendations of Mandal Commission for Other Backward Classes (OBC).
- Implementation of reserved electoral constituencies for coastal fisherpeople as recommended by the Mandal Commission
NFF leaders and support groups were in the city to join the Parliament Rally on the 15thDecember and to also participate in the founding conference of the ‘National Federation of Traditional Workers’, a national coalition force of natural resource based traditional community organisations and working people. The Conference was held at Mavlankar Hall on the 16th of December 2011.
Matanhy Saldanah Rambhau Patil
Chairperson General Secretary
Contact for details: 09868165471