The observations being made by veteran marine scientists, technologists and policy makers that India was yet to tap the huge potential offered by the three seas surrounding the country has been proved right with a plea made by the Chennai District Collector R Seethalakshmy to Bankers on Saturday.
The collector, while addressing State level Bankers at Chennai requested them to explore the possibilities of providing loans for the fishing community.
But Dr Paul Pandian, director, department of fisheries, Government of India, told fish farmers and fishermen during a colloquium held at Kochi on Sunday that they can avail bank loans of Rs 3 lakh on the basis of the Kisan Credit Cards issued by the Centre.
“This shows that there is a communication gap between the Governments at the Centre and the States regarding the massive programmes chalked out by the Centre to harness the Blue Economy (economic activities dependent on marine resources),” said C K Sudhakaran, an aqua culture farmer from Kerala’s Kodungalloor district who is into the business for the last four decades.
Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal offer immense economic potential to the fishing community spread across the country’s coastline as well as entrepreneurs, according to Pejawar Murari, former IAS officer who headed the parliamentary consultative committee on Blue Economy which ushered in the term and the business possibilities to the country.
The Murari Committee Report offers recommendations, suggestions and road map to harness the marine wealth of the sub-continent in a sustainable way. “But the present day decision makers are yet to take note of the possibilities offered by the report,” said Murari who after retirement was the livewire of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries as its advisor.
V Balasubramaniam, general secretarty, Prawn Farmers Federation of India, who himself is an aqua farmer of repute said that persons holding responsible persons take scant note of the woes faced by the farming community. “It takes minimum five years for renewing the license of the aqua farm for an existing unit.
This deny us the chance to export shrimps and prawns . Moreover we are not covered under the National Calamity Insurance Scheme which result us in suffering huge losses whenever there are natural calamities like tornados, cyclones and tsunamis for which there are no dearth in the Indian shorelines,” said Balasubramaniam.
He pointed out that aquaculture is a segment that ensures sustained fishing and marine resources. “Millions could be employed in these farms since we can have aqua farms even in the hinterland of the country.
Yet another shortcoming is the absence of accredited laboratories with facilities of testing the quality of the crop,” he said.
Dr Pandian said the decision to include the fishermen as well as aqua farmers under the national calamity insurance has to be taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs which underscored the communication gap between various Ministries and departments of the Government of India .
Blue Economy which could lead India to the status of an economic super power is being retarded by the vested interests of trade union leaders and certain bureaucrats, said Sudhakaran.
He said trade union leaders in his region resort to goondaism to prevent the aqua farmers from introducing mechanization in aqua cultivation. “We are facing the same scenario of the 1980s when the Government of India tried to introduce computerization in banking and insurance sectors,” said Sudhakaran.