Archive for December, 2011

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:

  1.  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.
  2.  Stop the building of Nuclear Power Plants at Kudankulam, Gorakhpur and Jaitapur.
  3. Stop setting up of thermal power plants with captive ports on the coast and also setting up of new private ports.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Ratification and implementation of ILO Convention No.188 for Work in Fishing for all coastal fishworkers of the country.
  8. Immediate implementation of Unorganised Workers Social Security Act 2008 with reference to all fishworkers of the country.
  9. Implementation of remaining 40 recommendations of Mandal Commission for Other Backward Classes (OBC).
  10. 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


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Unified struggles against United aggression:

National Federation Formed to Step up Struggle

To Protect Rights of Natural Resource Based Traditional Communities

New Delhi, December 16 2011: “The fish in the sea would not have been there, if not for the rain, and the rivers, produced by the hills and the forests. The fishworkers of this country cannot sustain ourselves without identifying with and struggling together with the forest people, the handloom weavers, the women vendors, the bamboo workers, etc of this country” T. Peter, National Secretary of National Fishworkers’ Forum said.

Peter was speaking at the national conference of traditional livelihood and natural resources based communities organized today in Delhi’s Mavlankar Hall, aiming at bringing together the diverse groups dependent on natural resources to build a National Federation of Natural Resource Based Traditional Communities and Organizations, at the national level.

“The issue of forest rights for forest dwellers is not that of the last five years. Communities have been demanding it for the last many decades. Having achieved that five years back, what we are facing now is a total failure in its implementation”, K. Krishnan, activist of Adivasi Solidarity Council, Tamilnadu said. “The governments of the left and the right, have failed in catering to the core issues of the traditional working people of the country. We cannot remain silent anymore” he further said.

A growing sense of anger and frustration marked the commemoration of the five years since the enactment of Forest Rights Act 2006. Speakers at the national conference reiterated that themovement to effectively implement the Forest Rights Act is an inalienable part of the struggles for democratic governance.

They said, today the struggle for the implementation of Forest rights is not just important for the forest dependent people or communities, it is equally important for the other natural resource based working people like fish workers, mineral dependents, agriculturalists, bamboo workers, handloom weavers and artisans who are partly or indirectly dependent on forest and other natural resources and also the larger society.

“The challenge before us is to make the government accountable to the people. What it does now is hobnobbing with the corporations, who are bend upon plundering the natural resources, and help them amassing profits. This has to change. The political class should show courage to speak for the people and stand by them,” senior activist Ashok Chowdhury said. “The sea, forest and mountain dwellers’ coming together is not just for the sake of it. It is to move towards making a new world order,” he said.

Large number of adivasis, dalits and traditional workers, representing 18 states attended the national conference. Key speakers at the conference included: Jarjum Ete of Arunachal Pradesh Women’s Commission, Subhash Ghayali of Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee, Guman Singh of Him Niti Abhiyan, Gautam Bandyopadhaya of Nadi Ghati Morcha, Ashim Roy of New Trade Union Initiative, Anuradha Talwar of Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity, Vasantha of National Adivasi Alliance and Munnilal of National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers.

“The need of the hour for all people struggling to protect their natural resources is to come together as a federation to coordinate and amplify the struggle in a better way,” Shanta Bhattarjee of Van Sramjeevi Manch, Uttar Pradesh said. “Women needs to be at the leadership of this federation, as women are the ones who bear the cost of losing rights over natural resources disproportionately,” she said.

The call for the Parliament rally yesterday (Dec 15) witnessed support for the cause from different quarters, including political parties, mass movements and organizations from different parts of the country.  At a time when the government is fighting one corruption charges after another, skeletons of its ministers falling from the cupboard, it should not forget the basic rights of the people and the promises made to them, speakers at the rally warned the government.

The national conference was a rare confluence of several movements, the forest struggles, the fishworkers forum, the anti-mining struggles of Jharkhand, the affirmative land struggles from Kerala, UP and AP, the Dalit movements from South and North India, etc. This was pegged as a part of preparing a platform to discuss, share and brainstorm politics, movements, strategies and alliances.

Press Contacts: Roma: 9868217276, romasnb@gmail.com,

Vijayan 9868165471, vijayanmj@delhiforum.net

Office: 011-26680883, 26687724


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