Fishermen yet to get food support : 22-day ban on hilsa netting

The government has imposed 22-day ban on hilsa netting but the fishermen in Munshiganj and Noakhali are yet to get food support from the government meant for them during the period.
The fishermen of the district have stopped catching hilsa since the imposition of the ban period by the government on hilsa netting from October 1 last.

During the 22-day ban, each fisherman is to get 40 kg of rice from the government but this time they are yet get this incentive.

Last year, the government allocated the rice for the fishermen of 13 districts but the fishermen of Munshiganj did not get this. This year also, they are in doubt whether they would get the support.

Meanwhile, under Vulnerable Groups Feeding (VGF) programme, per fisherman is to get 40 kg of rice in each of eight months but they got the same for only four months. As a result, the workless fishermen are passing their days amid hardship.

There are 9,813 fishermen in the district, and of them 2,972 catch hilsa. From November till June, there is a ban on netting jatka (hilsa fry). During each of the eight months, per fisherman is to get 40 kg of VGF rice but they are getting only for four months. Last year also, during the ban period on hilsa netting, the fishermen here did not get any food support.

President of National Fishermen’s Association, district unit, Md Aman Ullah Sarker said, “Following the order of the district fisheries department, we are not catching fish from the river. But, we did not get the food support which was meant for us. Last year also, we were deprived of the support.”

District Fisheries Officer Dr Md Oliur Rahman said, “The government is to give 40 kg of rice to each fisherman during the ban period. We sent letter to the deputy commissioner in this connection. But no allocation has arrived yet.”

Meanwhile, district fisheries office sources said, during the ban period on jatka netting, each fisherman gets 40 kg of VGF rice. Though there is rule to give the support for eight months, a total of 373 metric tons of rice are being allocated for four months.

NOAKHALI: The fishermen of the district are abiding by the ban on hilsa catching imposed by the government from October 1 last. But, they are yet to get the special food support of the government meant for them during the ban period.

As a result, the fishermen have expressed anger as they are passing their days amid hardship. They cannot catch fish during the ban period and maintain their families.

Meanwhile, the local fisheries department officials do not know when the food support will reach the fishermen’s hands.

On the other hand, allegations have been found that local public representatives have misappropriated the allocation of the food support.

Sources said, most of the people in Hatia, Subarnachar and Companyganj upazilas of the district are directly or indirectly involved in hilsa catching and trade. But, due to the ban imposed by the government, the local economy has suffered setback. There are hardly any people at local haats and bazaars.

The temporary unemployment problem has gripped over 50,000 fishermen of the upazilas. Getting no government help during the ongoing ban period, the fishermen have become frustrated.

The fishermen said, “We are abiding by the government rules but if we are not compensated, we will have to starve, and finally we will have to start catching hilsa violating the ban.”

The fishermen of Hatia upazila have submitted written complaint to the upazila nirbahi officer alleging that the local public representatives have misappropriated the allocation of the food support meant for them by the government.

Administrator of Harany union parishad Mushfiqur Rahman said, “There are faults in distributing food support to the fishermen. If the fisheries officials would coordinate with local public representatives, the situation could be avoided.”

District Fisheries Officer Md Zaker Hossen said, “We cannot say when we will get the allocation. The food support is given to the union parishad chairmen and members as per list. If there are any irregularities, we will take action.”

observerbd