Claiming that the monthly compensation of Rs 2000 announced is not enough to buy a tin of edible oil, fishermen affected by cyclone Tauktae in Gujarat made a representation before the fisheries department on Tuesday and sought higher compensation.
Fishermen from Shiyalbeyt, Chanch, Dhara, Syed Rajpara, Nawa Bandar, Simar and Mahuva that are part of Amreli, Gir Somnath and Bhavnagar districts met the officials in Gandhinagar. “We told the government that the compensation announced for the fishermen is inadequate. Over one lakh fishermen are currently unemployed after their boats were damaged or destroyed in the cyclone. In the government’s package, there is no provision for 40,000 fisherwomen who are an integral part of fishing industry and are involved in cleaning, drying and packaging of fishes,” said Arvind Khuman, who represented the fishermen from Rajula in Amreli district.
“The government’s package has no provisions for fishermen owning small boats. Secondly, the survey for the compensation was done at a time when most evacuated families had not returned. These families were left out. Thirdly, there are at least 5000 boats that have got damaged, which is much higher than the government’s count of 1000,” said Khuman while addressing media persons after meeting the state government officials.
Talking about the compensation, Bharat Kamlaiya from Rajpara said, “A measly Rs 2000 isn’t enough to buy a tin of edible oil (15 litres). We want at least Rs 5,000 for a year as most fishermen will take about an year to get their boats repaired. Till then they would remain unemployed.” While announcing a Rs 105 crore package, the government had stated that it will pay a sum of Rs 2,000 to each of the fishermen whose boats got damaged in the cyclone.
According to Bharat, the banks in these districts were not giving loans beyond Rs 2 lakh and so the government’s package that mentions 10 per cent interest subventions for loans up to Rs 10 lakh for repairing boats, is insufficient. He said the fishermen who migrate to ports like Jafrabad for employment and have lost their shelter and belongings have not been surveyed.
Daksha Baria, 18, the youngest in the group said she had come to represent her mother who used to package fish, but have remained unemployed since the cyclone hit. The fishermen present also said that they have sought a resurvey of the losses from the government.
The cyclone also destroyed dried fish and fresh fish stocks. These were also not taken into account by the government. The fishermen also asked the government to hike the compensation for death from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 15 lakh. Officials in the government said they were looking into the demands made by the fishermen.