Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy virtually laid the foundation stone for four fishing harbours and 25 aqua hubs, on the occasion of World Fisheries Day on Saturday. Estimated to cost Rs 1,510 crore, the harbours will come up at Juvvaladinne in Nellore district, Uppada in East Godavari, Nizampatnam in Guntur and Machilipatnam in Krishna, along with the aqua hubs.
During his 3,648 km padayatra, Jagan said he met with members of the fishing community who narrated their woes and also witnessed their dire conditions. He said many fisherfolk migrated to other states for livelihood, got caught in international waters and were jailed in foreign countries, despite Andhra Pradesh being bestowed with a 974 km long coastline, the second longest in the country.
Aimed at helping the community, the state government launched Matsyakara Bharosa scheme, to provide financial assistance to fisherfolk. The state government also expects them to benefit immensely with the new harbours and aqua hubs.
"To boost aquaculture in the state and better the lives of fishermen, the state government has proposed to develop eight fishing harbours, aqua hubs, and infrastructure facilities for marketing aqua products at janata bazaars, at a cost of Rs 3,500 crore," said an official statement. As part of this plan, the state government will develop an aqua hub in each constituency with an outlay of Rs 225 crore.
Further explaining about Matsyakara Bharosa, Reddy said the scheme's financial benefit has been increased from Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000, directly crediting Rs 102 crore into the accounts of more than 1 lakh fishermen in 2019 to compensate for the annual fishing ban period. "Extending support to them during COVID-19, Rs 110 crore was disbursed in May 2020, six months before the actual dateline, benefiting 1.10 lakh fishermen," said an official statement.
Likewise, the government had increased the fuel subsidy from Rs 6 to Rs 9 per litre, which can be redeemed instantly at any of the 87 recognised petrol bunks. The state government provides power at Rs 1.50 per unit, and the total subsidy of Rs 720 crore is borne by the state.
The Andhra Pradesh government also hiked ex-gratia for fishermen in the event of an accidental death from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.
CM Jagan claimed that the lives of fishermen will change completely in the next one year.
"In order to create more opportunities for the fishermen, three more ports would be undertaken at Machilipatnam, Ramayapatnam, and Bhavanapadu with an expenditure of Rs 10,000 crore," said the statement.
Jagan said that 794 people were hired as fisheries assistants in village secretariats to assist fishermen and aquaculture farmers.