The stark reality of lakhs of fishermen in Maharashtra, eking out living by fishing in state-controlled water bodies, was once again brought to the notice of state-government appointed Tanks Leasing Policy Restructuring Committee that held its first meeting recently for the six districts of Nagpur division.
Chandraprakash, principal scientist of Mumbai-based Central Institute of Fishery Education, is the chairman of the committee that comprises officials of fisheries, irrigation and other departments.
"Ours is the only state without a proper, detailed policy for fishing business on which lakhs of people depend," Mannu Datta, convener of Save Tanks Action Committee, told TOI. "Ad hocism rules. Every government and department comes out with orders and resolutions from time to time and fishermen and their cooperative societies are completely at sea, barely managing to survive uncertainties," said Datta.
"We have come here to listen to views of the stakeholders. These fishing cooperative societies have traditionally been given leases for irrigation tanks and other water bodies. They have their problems that we will factor in while giving our inputs for the new policy being drafted," said Chandraprakash.
Fresh trouble for the societies started after the previous Congress-led government came out with a GR in June 2014 allowing registration of fresh cooperatives. This was protested by the older ones. In May this year, the GR was scrapped and the Devendra Fadnavis government promised to come out with the first-ever comprehensive policy for fishing cooperatives and leasing rights. The committee will hold a meeting in Amravati on Friday and subsequently at Aurangabad, Latur and Pune till October 4.
"This process is taking so much time. Already the seed-stocking season is coming to end, With no seeding done, fishing activity will come to a standstill next year," said Datta. "We will be lucky if we have the policy ready by year-end," he added.