Selling seafood during the demonetisation drive proved fruitful for the Koli community, as they amassed over two crore rupees within ten days.(Hindustan Times)
Selling seafood during the demonetisation drive proved fruitful for the Koli community, as they amassed over two crore rupees within ten days.(Hindustan Times)

Demonetisation benefits Mumbai’s fishermen, who collect Rs2 crore in 10 days

The community started accepting old denominations as people looked to get rid of their high-valued notes.
By Akash Sakaria | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON NOV 26, 2016 12:26 AM IST

The on-going ban on Rs 500 and Rs1,000 notes has benefited the fishermen community in Mumbai. Selling seafood during the demonetisation drive proved fruitful for the Koli community, as they amassed over two crore rupees within ten days, say community members.

The community started accepting old denominations as people looked to get rid of their high-valued notes.

“The decision (to accept old currency) was not a move but because we had to. Fish and other seafood items are perishable. So our options were to accept those notes or starve. We chose the former,” said Anant Tare, leader of Koli Machhimaar Samaj, who is also a former mayor of Thane Municipal Corporation.

“Had we not accepted the money, people would have tried somewhere else. It is better to save the money for future prospects. The money will be used for upliftment of the community,” Tare added.

On a daily basis, around 7000 boats carrying seafood arrives at the dock. It includes the community’s own food, as well as the fish they sell. This gives them scope for not only survival, but also to thrive, people from the community claim.

“Sales have definitely increased. Our helplessness (of seafood being a perishable commodity) turned in our favour. Besides, people with black money don’t come to buy fish at a street-side fish stall,” said a fisherwoman at Manori beach, Malad, adding, “If we don’t accept this money, we would not get our daily bread.”

Another Koli from Gorai beach said that the sale of dry fish shot up as soon as the verdict was out. “Dry fish, once bought, can last as long as six months. If stored properly, it can even last one whole year. People bought it in kilos and stashed it in their houses to get rid of their high-denomination notes,” said Lakshman Vaiti, who lives in Borivli and heads a team of fishermen in Gorai beach.

“Fishermen and women deposit their daily collections in post-offices and co-operative banks instead of nationalised banks. We get to eat the fresh fish at the end of the day since people are keen on buying dry fish,” Vaiti added. He also said the quality that the community provides is better than people get at any high-end restaurants.

Sapna Keni, a fisherwoman at Uttan in Mira-Bhayandar district, said the time was right for the community after months of mediocre sale. “There was a time when there were almost no transactions for two months due to the festive season. People finally came around after Diwali and start buying meat and seafood,” Keni said, adding, “The demonetisation decision and end of festive season came as a double boon for us. At least we are happy with the Prime Minister’s move.”

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