National Fisherfolk Forum Memorandum to Hon’ble Union Finance Minister


Chairperson, NFF

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Shri . Arun Jaitley,
Honourable Union Minister of Finance,
Govt. of India, New Delhi.
Hon’ble Sir,

Sub  : The  most   important  demands  of   the   fisher  communities   that  needs to be considered by  your  good  self  for inclusion in the 2017-18 Budget proposals – Submission – Reg.

As the Finance Minister of India, who is committed to ensure betterment of the livelihood of the common Indian, your good self know the plight of fishing communities fishing in the sea and living on the coasts of the 9 coastal states and 4 Union Territories of India and in all the inland water bodies of these areas and in the 23 land locked states of India, who amount to be a fishing community represented by our forum and amount to approximately 3 crore people.

Sir, you know that even after 69 years of independence, the traditional tribal fisher communities, who are the communities said above, are still backward in education, employment and therefore economic development.

The BJP’s National Policy, of 2010, on fisheries and fishermen, released by the then BJP National President Shri. Nitin Gadkari had committed to creating a separate ministry for fisheries in Union Government.

The Hon’ble Prime Minister had mentioned in his speeches during Loksabha election campaign in Tamilnadu to fulfill the important demands of the fishing community.

Our forum  requests  your goodself  the  Hon’ble  Union  Minister  for  Finance, to consider including the following main demands of the fishing community in the 2017-18 Budget proposals and also announcements in this regard in your budget  speech on 1st Feb 2017.

Our Important Demands are :-

  1.  Fishing should be recognized at par with Agriculture  :

Fishing being established as an allied subject of Agriculture, has made it remain a  part of a department under the Ministry of Agriculture for the past 69 years of  Independence. Though called an allied subject of Agriculture, fishermen have not enjoyed the benefits or concessions that the farmers are enjoying.

The fishermen communities who are victims of natural calamities such as cyclone, rough sea, heavy rains, heavy floods, hurricane and tsunami, have so far not got any notable relief from the Central Government Agencies, except in one instance of Tsunami in year 2004.

During natural disasters in the States, thousands of  crores  of rupees are waived from all the sections under the Agriculture Ministry, except the fishing community.

The harsh truth is that not even one paisa of loan of the fisher communities were waived off in any part of India. Therefore, it is important that fisheries and fishermen welfare should be treated at par with Agriculture through an official declaration of the government. Fisheries should be treated at par with Agriculture on all aspects.

The farmers are provided with agriculture loans, loans for the farm equipments such as tractors and trailers. So too the fishermen be provided with loans to buy boats, nets, other gears and equipments in the same fashion as for the farmers, that is with differential interest rate and through Nationalized Banks, Scheduled Banks and through refinancing institutions such as NABARD.

  1.    Recognition as Tribal people  :

The communities who live near or in the forests and hills and depend for their livelihood on them, through hunting and gathering forests produces are recognized as tribal people. Similarly fishermen communities, who live by the sea, river or such water bodies for  long and depend on those water resources for their livelihood, should be recognized by Govt. of India as tribal people, as been recommended by the Mandal Commission. It will not only ensure reservation for education and employment, but also will have reservation of constituencies in various elected bodies.

After considering all the pathetic, heart breaking suppressed  and  depressed  conditions  of fishermen community living  throughout our country, the Backward  Classes Commission under the Chairmanship of Shri.B.P. Mandal has rightly observed the stigma of untouchability against fishermen in some parts of the Country.

In the Backward  Classes  Commission  report  (Mandal report)  in Volume 1.

Main Report and Recommendations :

Chapter XIII,at page No. 65,underthe sub heading ”Miscellaneous – Para 13.37

  1. Certain sections of some occupational communities like Fishermen, Banjaras,Bansforas, Khatwes etc. still suffer from the stigma of untouchability in some parts of the country.They have been listed as O.B.Cs by the commission, but their inclusion in the list of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes may be considered by the Government.
  2. Backward Classes development corporations should be set up both at the central and state levels, to implement various socio – educational and economic measures for their advancement.
  3. A separate Ministry /Department for O.B.Cs at the Center and the States should be created to safe guard their interests.
  4. With a view to giving better representations to certain very backward sections of O.B.Cs like the Gaddis in Himachel Pradesh, Neo –Buddhists in Maharashtra, Fishermen in the coastal areas, Gujjars in J&K.,it is recommended that areas of their concentrations may be carved out into separate constituencies at the time of delimitations.”

To give effect to the above recommendations the Legislative Assemblies including of Kerala and Puducherry unanimously passed resolutions to include the Fishermen community in the Scheduled Tribes list, sent to the Union Government for further proceedings.

Still these resolutions are under the consideration of Ministry of SocialJustice.Decision in this regard must betaken at the earliest .We request the government of India to consider this recommendation and include fishermen in the ST list.

  1. A ministry for Fisheries and Fisher Welfare:

Many are the occasions when some ministry of the Union government was bifurcated and a new ministry was established. Similarly, we want the fisheries department which is just one department under the Ministry of agriculture be bifurcated and a new ministry by the name Fisheries and Fisher Welfare Ministry be established.

Looking from the point of view that the contribution of the fisher communities to the GDP of the nation was 0.83% in the last financial year, we were expecting a proportionate Rs. 13,000 crore as the allocation for the fisheries. But instead the allocation for fisheries in the budget of 2016-17 is only a meager Rs. 575.34 Crores.

Even this is largely set part for the administrative expenses of the related Government machineries and quasi Government institutions.  Not even 5% of the allocation was meant for the fisher communities. We need justifiable budget allocation for the Fishermen, one of the three important traditional communities,   Farmers, Fishers and Pastoralist.

A separate Ministry should be established to ensure that reasonable fund allocation is set apart for the Fisheries and Fisher community welfare.

  1. A separate legislation to protect our rights:

Just as “ The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights Act) 2006 “, a  legislation which was meant to protect the rights of the tribal and other traditional forest dwellers was introduced, a legislation such as  “ The fisher and other traditional coastal communities rights (recognition of fisher rights) act” shall be established to protect the rights of the fisher and other traditional coastal communities by the government of India.

We humbly request Hon’ble Sir to kindly give our deprived community the support it requires urgently.

Thanking you,


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