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Uttara Kannada fishermen to take out rally on Friday

KARWAR, JAN. 11. Several fishermen's organisations of Uttara Kannada district have decided to take out a rally at Kumta on January 16 to urge the Government to fulfil their demands.

The President of the district unit of the National Fisheries Federation, Ganapati Mangre, and the President of the federation's State unit, Rama Moger, told presspersons here recently that the district was suffering from a fish famine for the past four years. This was due to fishing by foreign vessels in deep waters off the Karnataka coast. At present, nearly 500 foreign vessels were engaged in deep sea fishing, they said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which had taken out a "Matsya Yatra" from Gujarat to Kanyakumari to oppose the presence of foreign fishing vessels in Indian waters, was maintaining silence on the issue after it came to power at the Centre, they said.

They demanded that the Government announce a special package for fishermen like the one being implemented for farmers hit by drought. The package should provide for waiver of interest on loans taken by fishermen and exemption from coastal regulatory zone rules. This apart, they demanded that only fishermen be given the rights to extract sand from river beds, and fisherwomen be given loans at a low interest rate. They also demanded that there should be a separate ministry for fisheries at the Centre.

Harihar Harikant, fishermen leader, said the rally would send across the message to people's representatives that fishermen would vote for them only if they supported their cause.

Mr. Moger said that fishermen were not opposed to industrial development. But any industry which posed a threat to their vocation would not be allowed to come up.

He said R.V. Deshpande, Minister for Large and Medium-scale Industries, would participate in the rally. Margaret Alva, MP, would inaugurate it.

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