Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fishermens' 'No' to MPT onslaught on livelihoods



The Chief Minister,

Government of Goa,

Secretariat, Porvorim,

Bardez, Goa.


This is to bring to your notice the bleak future that awaits traditional fishermen from Baina beach if the clandestine designs of the Mormugao Port Trust sugar coated with a cloak of philanthropy in the garb of constructing a fishing jetty for trawler owners at Baina beach is allowed.

In the first place, we firmly that it is the prerogative of the Government of Goa to decide and plan the infrastructure required in the state as it is best equipped to decide in the best interest of the people. Ironically, MPT appears to have usurped this sacred duty of your Government and gone ahead to sign a MOU with the boat owners without even consulting the Government, leave alone consulting the traditional fishermen who are also stakeholders.

Sir, currently there are around 1,200 fishermen community members besides the labour living off Baina beach from where they not only carry out their fishing activity but also live there as there are 90 residential houses along the beach. The MPT proposes to construct the fishing jetty at the Southern end of the Baina beach, which means all the fishermen living along Baina beach will be displaced.

Besides, if the fishing jetty is permitted here, the fishermen will not be able to carry out their usual activity as the trawler owners will not allow them to fish in the area. As it is right now the trawler owners harass the traditional fishermen in various means like not allowing them to anchor near their jetty and even compelling wholesale fish buyers not to purchase the traditional fishermen’s catch.

Sir, this would mean that the poor and marginalized traditional fishing community will be deprived of not only their residential houses but also their means of livelihood, which is quite contrary to your avowed mission of working for the aam admi and therefore, you have to intervene and put the MPT in its place and assert your Government’s prerogative to govern the people of Goa.

We also would like to bring to your notice that the MPT is proposing the fishing jetty – which incidentally is a huge project involving construction of a breakwater – that will definitely have an impact on the hydrology of the area and the ecology. It is indeed ironical that MPT is gloating about this project without even carrying out an Environment Impact Assessment study, which is mandated for such projects.

As you are aware, the beaches in the Southern taluka of Canacona are facing severe problems of erosion suspected to be caused by the development of the Sea Bird project at Karwar. If MPT is permitted to construct the fishing jetty as per the plans prepared by them, the beaches in Goa will be severely impacted which in turn would affect the flourishing tourism industry that has come to be the mainstay of Goa’s economy as the tourists visit our state only for its beaches, and if there are no beaches left, there will be no tourists coming.

In addition, the Baina beach attracts a lot of people because of its natural beauty and particularly during the summer season when various cultural activities are conducted on the Beach. The Government too uses the Baina beach during the International Film Festival of India, which has come to stay in Goa permanently.

We would also like to bring to your notice plans to displace fishermen from the Bimbeli beach which is a private property. Fishermen are given access to this beach primarily because it is a private property.

It has come to our notice that the Navy is proposing to acquire this beach to station a new squadron which would result in the fishermen being displaced from this beach too. Although the Navy says that it will issue passes to the fishermen and permit them access, in reality this will not happen going by the Maharashtra experience.

Sir, in Maharashtra, initially a radius of 500 mts. around installations was banned for fishermen. However, the same has now been increased to five nautical miles which translates roughly to around eight kilometers. If the same yardstick is applied in Goa, the fishermen will not be allowed to carry out their trade anywhere around that area as MPT seeks to push them to Bimbeli from where the Navy is planning to evict them.

A question that comes to mind is why should the Navy want to set up another squadron in Goa when it has such a huge base at neighbouring Karwar which is not really very far off. Besides, Goa has given more than sufficient land to the Navy and other armed forces of the country including the island of Anjediv for free.

Sir, we earnestly appeal to you to protect the interest of the traditional fishermen who are the aam admi that you keep talking about. Besides, you have every reason to stall MPT’s nefarious plans as it has refused to co-operate with you.

Therefore, we request you to take immediate steps to ensure that the houses and means of livelihood of the traditional fishermen are protected failing which we shall be forced to come on the streets to protect the interest of Goa and Goans.

Yours sincerely,

Sd /- Sd/- Sd/-

Agnelo Rodrigues Matanhy Saldanha Mohammed SS. Yakub

(President) (General Secretary) (President, Baina RFCOS)

C.c to :- Mr. Milind S. Naik, MLA, Mormugao Constituency.

:- Mr. Jose Philip D’Souza, MLA, Vasco Constituency.

NOTE :- A delegation of five representatives of fishermen from Kantem Baina and other parts of Goa and presented the letter to the C M. on 11th Oct. 2010. The matter is as above. Thanks.

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