Agri Business

‘Proposed Indian Ports Act 2020 should net benefits for fishermen’

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on December 28, 2020 Published on December 28, 2020

A view of Chellanam harbour in Kochi (file photo)   -  Thulasi Kakkat

Include provisions in favour of the sector, appeals All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association

Kerala’s fishing community has requested the Centre to safeguard the interest of the fishing sector while considering the Indian Ports Act Bill 2020 in Parliament.

The proposed Bill is aimed at development of ports vis-a- vis international trade and traffic of goods. However, the community has demanded a pivotal role in the Bill to ensure optimum utilisation of the coastal line in the country, in view of the substantial foreign exchange it earns the exchequer.

All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association

TAMP’s helping hand

Submitting its comments on the draft Bill, the All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association said that prior to enactment of various port Acts, fisherfolk could take their grievances to the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP), for a fair deal. There were instances when TAMP had been helpful, for instance in reducing jetty fees to a reasonable level when other departments refused to pass favourable orders.

However, the new Act that is going to be enacted soon is intended to keep away TAMP and the grievances of the fisherfolk would be brushed aside, said Joseph Xavier Kalapurackal, general secretary of the Association. The government should include some provisions in the proposed Act in favour of the sector, while imposing fees and penalties, he said.

Soon, ports sector to have CCI-like body to settle disputes

Small jetties that come under the Cochin Port Trust are being used as seafaring, fish landing, and boat repairing yards since 1950. Initially these jetties were operated free of cost with the assistance of local people. Subsequently, a fee of ₹100 was levied annually by the port, which rose to ₹1,200 in 1998. However, the amount was further raised in 2013 to ₹1,12,000. Though the sector could obtain an interim stay from the Kerala High Court on the increase in fees, such enhancements in jetty fees are a deterrent for fishermen to venture into the sea, he said.

Those drafting the Act may be ignorant of the ground realities faced by the fishing sector, which is a source of livelihood for 75,000 families. The Association is looking forward to a comprehensive Act to support the fishing community’s the livelihood opportunities, he said, and urged the authorities to involve agencies such as the TAMP in the Act to address the grievances of the community.

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Published on December 28, 2020
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