Travails of over 600 fishermen families driven out by oil drillers

Fisher family at Injaram village on the banks of River Godavari
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Fisher family at Injaram village on the banks of River Godavari

Highlights

  • They had to move from Balusutippa village of Katrenikona mandal to Injaram village of Tallarevu mandal on the banks of River Godavari owing to drilling operation undertaken by Gujarat Petroleum Corporation several years ago
  • For the last 10 years they have been hunting and doing brisk business of red prawns which are in great demand

Kakinada: Owing to drilling operation undertaken by Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Limited (GSPC), nearly 600 families have moved away from coastal Balusutippa village of Katrenikona mandal in East Godavari district and settled down at Injaram village of Tallarevu mandal on the banks of River Godavari.

The fishermen hunt for red prawns which are in great demand. For the last 10 years they have been hunting and doing brisk business of red prawns. Originally, the prawns are available in the sea at Kakinada. But owing to receding sea water, the prawns have moved away from this area to Tallarevu mandal which became the hunting area for these families.

It is interesting to note that children of 8 years old are enthusiastically participating in fishing. They are evincing more interest in hunting rather than pursuing education. They are reluctant to go to school. They get an income ranging from Rs 500 to 5,000 per day. Of course, they get this amount depending upon their luck in hunting. All the families lead their lives completely on the boats. Their boats are like their house where they cook and eat food, sleep and carry out other domestic activities. Women are also participating in fishing. In the night time they hang blinking lanterns to a single pole erected on the boat. They confess that they don't have any skill except hunting.

A fisherman Malladi Sathibabu told 'The Hans India' that they come to the Tallarevu area soon after the Diwali celebration was over. He said that they lost their livelihood in view of the drilling operation undertaken by GSPC. Officials paid their compensation to 16,514 people in 2013. However, some of the fishermen did not receive the amount.

He candidly stated that there is little encouragement from the government for the fishermen. He complained that they are unable to receive the government welfare schemes. He appealed to the government to help them financially.

Another fisherman D Lakshmana Rao stated that incase of health problems, they go to Yanam of Puducherry government hospital instead of Kakinada Government Hospital as it is far away from their area.

More than 764 fishermen have been waiting for a compensation amount of Rs. 6 crore from the government. In fact, the amount had to be paid to the fishermen by the GSPC. During the oil and gas drilling period, the GSPC promised to the government as well as the fishermen to provide a compensation amount of 78.24 crore to 16,514 fishermen who lost their livelihood on fishing ban due to the GSPC drilling. However, the GSPC has not been releasing the compensation. The fishermen agitated against the company and exerted pressure on the government three years ago. But the then TDP government didn't heed their demand and ignored them. The then Opposition leader YS Jagan Mohan Reddy who was on Padayatra, had promised to the fishermen to provide the remaining compensation amount to the fishermen, if he came to power. After coming to power, Jagan Mohan Reddy released an amount of Rs 72.24 crore for 15,222 fishermen last year. Due to the failure in finding addresses of the fishermen and some technical reasons , remaining fishermen couldn't get the compensation. Now those fishermen have been waiting for the compensation.

Deputy Director of Fisheries PV Satyanarayana told 'The Hans India' that the lists of the beneficiaries have been prepared and identified the beneficiaries and also submitted a report to the government for the purpose. He expressed hope the government would release the remaining funds by the end of March 31.

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