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Guj Cong announces several pre-poll ‘guarantees’ for fishermen; accuses BJP of acting against community’s interests

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Ahmedabad, Sep 16 (PTI) The Congress on Friday promised Rs 3 lakh financial assistance and Rs 400 daily allowance to the families of fishermen from Gujarat languishing in Pakistani jails, besides a Rs 50 lakh package to the owners of boats seized by the neighbouring country if the part is voted to power in the state.

State Congress president Jagdish Thakor and senior leader Arjun Modhwadia made the announcement in a press conference here while accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government of acting against the interests of the fishing community by cutting down the subsidy and not taking concrete steps for the release of the fishermen apprehended by Pakistan.

Apart from providing higher subsidies on petrol and diesel used in fishing boats, the Congress government will also put in place a cooperative system for boat building and priority will be given to traditional fishing communities for prawn farming and fishing in inland water bodies, the leaders said.

Assembly elections in the BJP-ruled Gujarat are scheduled to be held by the end of this year.

“As soon as Congress is voted to power in Gujarat, its government will revitalise the plans that were implemented 27 years ago for the fishing community in the state. Along with that, a 14-point resolution-guarantees for the fishermen will be implemented with the promise to again make the state the fishing hub of the country,” Modhwadia said.

He said that during the Congress rule, fishermen used to be released from Pakistani jails within 6-12 months after being arrested by the Pakistan’s security agencies from near international maritime borders. But now, they are not released even after two-three years.

“Congress will make efforts to get fishermen released from Pakistani jails and provide Rs 3 lakh financial package and Rs 400 daily allowance to the kin of such fishermen. The Congress government will also provide a package of Rs 10 lakh to the family of the fisherman dying in Pakistani jails,” he said.

If voted to power, the party will also provide a financial package of Rs 50 lakh to the owners of boats seized by the Pakistani security agency, he said.

At present, there are around 600 fishermen languishing in Pakistan jails and 1,100 boats are in the custody of the neighbouring country, Modhwadia said.

Congress will also provide 36,000 litres of Sales Tax-free diesel and 4,000 litres of Sales Tax-free petrol annually for fishing boats as well as Rs 1 lakh subsidy for new petrol engines, he said.

The party also promised a new housing scheme for fishermen, special scholarships for their children to pursue higher studies, setting up of “fish business zones” at each fishing port, and incentives for fish processing plants and promotion of indigenous shipbuilding industry, etc, he said.

The new Congress government will also provide National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) loan and a subsidy scheme for boat building on cooperative basis, and priority will be given to traditional fishing communities for prawn farming. Priority will also be given to traditional fishermen’s co-operative societies for fishing in inland fisheries, lakes and dams, he said.

The party will also bring a law prohibiting industrial waste and pollution in sea-lakes that has damaged the marine ecosystem and reduced fish production, he said. New fishing ports will be constructed and capacity of the existing ports will be enhanced, he said.

“While the number of fishing boats (in Gujarat) has reached 35,000 from 5,000 in the last 27 years of BJP rule, infrastructure has not been developed accordingly. The Congress government will sanction a plan to construct new fishing ports and enhance the capacity of ports like Porbandar,” Modhwadia said.

A modern ‘Fishermen’s Business Zone’ will be constructed by allocating large land for boat owners’ godowns, workshops and other facilities related to fishing operations, he said. PTI KA NP NP

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

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