Fishing for funds: Tamil Nadu writes to Centre for ₹1,000 crore for harbour development

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on July 19, 2020

Tamil Nadu is seeking ₹1,000 crore for the development of fishing infrastructure and an additional ₹247 crore for the development of seaweed farming from the Central government’s Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) scheme.

The ₹20,050-crore fisheries development scheme was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May, as part of the government’s plan for jump-starting the Covid-19-hit economy. The Central government would bring in ₹9,407 crore, states ₹4,880 crore and the (beneficiaries) private sector ₹5,763 crore and the scheme is to be implemented between 2020-21 and 2024-45.

Of the ₹20,050 crore outlay, ₹5,000 crore has been earmarked for the development of fishing harbours and ₹640 crore for seaweed cultivation.

Funds for fishing infra

Tamil Nadu’s Director of Fisheries, GS Sameeran, told BusinessLine that the State government is close to finalising the pitch for ₹1,000 crore grant for the development of fishing infrastructure. This includes improving infrastructure at the 11 fishing harbours and imrpving the infrastructure of the 600-odd ‘fish landing points’ into ‘fish landing centres’ with a shed and an auction hall, where the catch would be handled hygienically. The private sector would be invited to set up cold rooms in harbours.

According to data provided by Tamil Nadu’s fisheries department, the State is home to 1 million marine fisherfolk in 608 marine fishing villages and has 62 reservoirs. Another 2,30,000 fishermen are engaged in inland fisheries.

Tamil Nadu has sent a proposal to the Centre for ₹247 crore required for seaweed development in the State. The report includes a ‘seaweed park’ in Rameswaram, a sort of an industrial estate where the private sector would set up processing units.

Asked if it was not a high proportion of the ₹640 crore meant for the whole country, Sameeran said that Tamil Nadu needed the money because it already had a robust seaweed industry, which could be developed further.

Seaweed production

Seaweeds are referred to a huge range of marine plants, rooted and floating, which are rich in nutrition. Their extracts are used in food, pharmaceuticals and plant nutrients industries.

At Mandapam in southern Tamil Nadu, about 900 families of fisherfolk have been engaged in seaweed farming for three decades, with each family earning between ₹8,000-12,000 a month from this activity. Seaweed farming has been recognised as a women-centric employment generation activity.

Although India has immense potential, this vocation has remained confined to Mandapam, but now the government of India is keen to take this all along the country’s coastline. The country today produces about 20,000 tonnes of seaweed. Rajeev Ranjan, Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries, said that the country’s production can be easily scaled up to 1 million tonnes. Global production is estimated at around 33 million tonnes, valued at $8 billion. China accounts for over half of it and Indonesia and Philippines making up for most of the rest.

Tamil Nadu aims to take the lead Sameeran spoke about setting up skill development centres and R&D labs to be set up in the next five years. Nurseries have been planned to be built in the sea where fish could also be cultured.

An idea for creating an authority, on the lines of the Tobacco Board, has been mooted to conduct auctions so that seaweed farmers are not exploited.

Published on July 19, 2020

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