Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Sunday asked the state government to give land ownership rights to the fishermen who have been staying on the coastline for centuries.
“The problem of koliwadas (fishermen villages) is very serious. They have been staying there for centuries. The people have their ancestral houses on the land which is owned by the government,” he said speaking at the inauguration of a three-day National Fish Festival in Bandra-Kurla Complex on Sunday morning.
He said the ownership issue was not that difficult to resolve at the government level. “The poor fishermen’s families will get their long dues if we give them the land ownership.”
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who was also present, did not comment on Pawar’s demand.
Pawar also lamented that Maharashtra had registered negative growth rate in fish production and asked the state government to fish production by making certain policy changes.
Comparing the state’s fishing growth rate with that of others like West Bengal, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, he said: “Maharashtra has negative growth in this sector."
Pawar took the state to task. "Don’t just write letters to the Centre. You must also prepare and submit detailed project reports. You should take up repair and construction work of fishing jetties and also modernise the Sassoon Dock fish market in Mumbai,” he said.
Earlier, Chavan had said the state was making sincere efforts to resolve the issues that came up in due to security concerns after the 26/11 attacks.
Maharashtra has a coastline of 720km and hence coastal security has become one of the biggest problems. The fisher folks are being issued identity cards to facilitate hassle-free business.