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Chandy meets PM Modi, takes up fishermen's issues

New Delhi: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the latter's residence in New Delhi on Friday and discussed the issues concerning fishermen, two days after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi criticised the Centre's decision to extend ban on trawling.

Fishermen in Kerala are on the warpath against the NDA government's decision to extend trawling ban from 45 days to 61 days to protect marine health and certain provisions of the Meenakumari report on deep sea fishing in coastal areas. Chandy also submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister, requesting him to reconsider the notification imposing total fishing ban for 61 days and to limit the fishing ban period to 47 days from June 15 to July 31 every year.

In a meeting convened by the Union Agriculture Minister last month, the Kerala Fisheries Minister had explained the effect that the present uniform fishing ban would have on the economic and social activities of fishermen and requested to impose the fishing ban for 47 days as practised earlier, the Chief Minister said in his memorandum to Modi.

"We have expected that our request would be considered favourably. In spite of our request and memorandum, the Ministry has issued a notification for imposing a fishing ban for 61 days from June 1 to July 31 disregarding the appeal," the memorandum said.

Pointing out that the National Fisheries Development Board has reduced the grant issued to the state government from 75 per cent to 40 per cent, Chandy sought the Prime Minister to restore the grant to 75 per cent for helping the state to complete the projects.

This apart, he also urged the Centre to take immediate steps for uninterrupted supply of kerosene to the traditional fishermen of the state. Later, Kerala Culture Minister K C Joseph, who accompanied the Chief Minister during meeting with the Prime Minister, told reporters that the issue of ban on traditional fishermen from fishing beyond 12 nautical miles was also discussed.

"We discussed about the problems of traditional fishermen community, who are affected by the ban on fishing beyond 12 nautical miles... Traditional fishermen should be given that freedom and there should a relaxation in this regard," Joseph said. Earlier, Rahul Gandhi had criticised the Centre's decision to extend ban on trawling and vowed to fight for the fishermen during his visit to Kerala.
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