Midnapore East (West Bengal): With Prime Minister Narendra Modi promising to promote the blue economy of West Bengal, develop harbours and tourism in the state, there has been a feeling of elation amongst the fishing community of the region.
The Prime Minister’s announcement regarding a direct benefit transfer of Rs 6,000 per year to those dependent on the sea for their livelihood has also been welcomed by the locals.
PM Modi’s mention of Digha, one of the biggest fish markets in the country, has resonated amongst the community.
These announcements were made for a reason. The votes of these communities are in a significant number in Assembly seats across the regions which have the power to sway poll results.
Noni Gopal, a fisherman at Digha Mohana, praised the Prime Minister for announcing Rs 6,000 per year for fishermen.
Just like him, Bono Behari Jana too is happy about the announcement of direct cash transfer.
“Modi ji said that he will give Rs 6,000. Whether we get it or not, we want PM Modi. We love him. I think Modi will win,” added the fisherman.
Digha Mohana, the market falls in the Ramnagar constituency and is touted as one of the largest fish markets in the Eastern region of the country.
Shyam Sunder secretary Digha Fisherman Association stated that every day 400 to 500 metric tons of fish comes to the Digha Mohana market for sale. And the number of families dependent on this trade for livelihood is spread out across constituencies of Medinipur.
“There are 3 to 4 lakh families who are dependent on this for livelihood. There are 150 families of fishermen in Digha Mohan and approximately 10 thousand people are employed in it,” added Sunder who also claimed that more than 1 crore people were directly or indirectly associated with the trade.
The Prime Minister had on Wednesday stated that the Bharatiya Janata Party government will develop harbours and tourism to improve the economy associated with fisheries and allied trade.
However, the association also wants the state to give relaxation in tax on diesel as an increase in diesel prices was hurting the industry.
“Because of the increase in diesel prices we have suffered. At least 15 to 20 families depend on each fishing vessel for livelihood. We are demanding that if we could get tax exemption from the state on lines of Gujarat and Maharashtra it would be really helpful,” informed Sunder.
Fisherman Rajkumar Barike too said that the trade has suffered a setback and rising prices of diesel have made the situation worse.
“The situation is bad. Diesel prices too have gone up. Expenditure exceeded sales. We are glad about the announcement of the direct transfer. The Chief Minister too had committed but we didn’t receive anything,” said the Barike.
The BJP is getting positive reactions from the community as many are looking forward to the promises made by the Prime Minister.
The BJP MLA from Ramnagar Swadesh Ranjan Nayak belongs to the fishing community.
“I had been a secretary of the association for many decades. I know the troubles they are facing. The promises Prime Minister has made will definitely improve the situation. Rs 6,000 in their bank accounts will also ease their lives,” said Nayak while speaking to ANI.
As per experts, there are two marine sectors in West Bengal -one is South 24 Pargana, and the second is East Medinipur.
“There are 3,500 fishing vessels in East Medinipur and approximately 15,000 are in South 24 Parganas. More than 30 thousand go for fishing from here,” added a senior functionary of fishermen association.
Sunder stated that, “Last year, we got Rs 4,500 crore from exports and Rs 18 lakh tonne production happens in the industry.”
Elections to the 294-member state Assembly will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2. (ANI)