Kolabnagar: A pall of uncertainty has affected the lives of 725 farmers in Kolabarnagar under Jeypore block in Koraput district, thanks to the apathy of fisheries department personnel.
With no help from the administration, the fishermen families who mostly depend on fishing to run the errands of their families have been leading a life of neglect and exclusion. They alleged that they do not even have fishing nets and boats.
Meanwhile, the ‘Cage Culture’ built at a cost of Rs 2 crore is also on the verge of collapse.
According to sources, the Jeypore district fisheries department had formed a cooperative society for fishermen who go to fish in a dam, 31km away from Upper Kolab. The society was named as ‘Meenakshi Fishermen’s Cooperative Society.
The society formed way back in 1990s was doing pretty well till 2005. It gave livelihood to 725 Scheduled Caste (SC) and Schedule Tribes (ST) fishermen of around 30 villages.
The fishery department has also trained fishermen and provided them with proper equipment for fishing. This not only helped the fishermen families to earn a livelihood but also helped them make their own professional identity.
With the help of the administration, the fishermen also transported their fishes to other parts of the district and made quite a huge profit. Moreover, the fisheries department also built a ‘Cage Culture’ by spending Rs 2 crore.
Different varieties of fish fries were left in the cage culture. Fishes cultivated here are in great demand in the neighbouring districts including Koraput, Nabarangpur and Malkangiri.
However, things started changing after 2008. No officials paid heed to the pleas of the fishermen and the cooperative society. While new boats and fishing nets were provided to the fishermen every year, assistant was stopped after 2008 for reasons best known to the officials concerned.
Despite complaints, the fishermen have been neglected for 11 years. On the other hand, due to lack of maintenance, the ‘Cage Culture’ is also on the verge of collapse.
Many varieties of fishes were found dead and floating inside due to lack of care and food supply for the fishes. This has severely jeopardized the livelihood of the farmers who are forced to resort to other means of livelihood.
Families of fishermen have been drawing the attention of the authorities towards their plight at the earliest. They also warned of mass demonstration if no steps were taken by the authorities.