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Coastal industry projects affect livelihood: Gujarat fisher leaders seek land rights

By Our Representative 

Raising a series of demands following a meeting of the Samast Machimaar Samaj (Gujarat), Gujarat's small fisherfolk have insisted that they should be entitled to land rights over the sea coast, pointing out, projects along the coastal regions "adversely affect" their livelihood, a fact overlooked by policy makers.
Issues discussed at the meeting held in Ahmedabad included clean drinking water at the fishing ports, angandwadis for children, schools near fishing ports, electricity connection, transportation facilities at ports, connection of roads from ports to their villages and main roads, removal of taxes imposed on diesel, rapid implementation of diesel subsidies for boats, kerosene supply to outboard motor boats, and so on.
They also discussed rapid registration of boats following a complete survey, fish market facilities for women and cold storage facilities for fish catch, asserting, these issues and demands would be soon placed before the state government.
After the participation of around 30 leaders of the various coastal districts of Gujarat, the meeting chose an executive committee consisting of Usmang Gani Sherasiya (convener), Hiralbhai Dhimmar (Bharuch), Ayyubbhai Manjaliya (Mundra) and Siddikbhai Jasraya (Salaya).
It was pointed out at the meeting that the fish production has been decreasing rapidly due to industrialization over the coast and various projects of the government are directly affecting the small and poor fisher communities.
A demand for the livelihood of the fisher communities was raised, stating, the government should permit projects on the coast after detailed interaction with them. There should be expert level studies on livelihood options and on how such projects would affect the fisherfolk. There should also be a detailed study on the impact of dams on the fisher communities.
The meeting raised the issue of Bhadbhut barrage. The barrage, to be built on the estuary of Narmada river, will directly impact the breeding of the rare hilsa fish. Ever since the Banas river has dried up, there is no hisla fish catch in Surajbari area in the Bay of Kutch.
Now, it was pointed out, only the Narmada estuary has hilsa breeding grounds, but the construction of the barrage will directly affect livelihood of 25,000-30,000 fishermen of Bharuch district, as it would affect the hilsa fish catch.

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