Malpe fishermen stage protest outside taluk office in Udupi

Oppose plan to credit tax exemption amount in bank accounts

Members of the Malpe Fishermen’s Association staged a protest outside the taluk office on Tuesday, against the proposal of the government to credit the tax exemption amount to the bank accounts of fishermen, starting August 1.

The protesters took out a procession from Malpe till the taluk office, where they also submitted a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner Dr Vishal R, to be handed over to the Chief Minister.

Heeriyanna Keediyur, association president, who addressed the protesters, demanded that the government provide the tax exemption amount to the diesel at delivery point. He also demanded an amendment to the law that required a single person in a family to avail the boat facilities.

“The diesel quota for each boat should be hiked to 600 litres a day, as against the current 300-litre quota. The time span too should be extended from one month to a year. The horsepower limit should be increased to 500 HP, from the present 350 HP. Owners of boats that have not been legalised should be assured licence letters,” demanded the president.

The boats had extended the fishing holidays – which ended on August 1 – till August 6. The fishermen staged the protest from 9 am to 5 pm as their boats did not venture out into the sea. The government decision to credit the amount of tax exemption to the respective bank accounts from August 1 has invited the wrath of fishermen, as the single boat would be owned by many fishermen based on the partnership ownership pattern. The foreign exchange through fishing is Rs 30.213 crore for the country, while it is Rs 1.21 crore for the State. There are nearly 2000 boats involved in fishing at the harbor in Malpe, wherein 50000 people are directly involved in the business.

The people indirectly involved in the fishing trade – including women selling dry fish, vendors, loaders, mechanics, carpenters, fishnet repairers, workshop labourers, boat builders, boat pullers, electricians, fibre workers and daily fish-selling women – are at least 8.50 lakh in number. Fishing business is tough, involving risks to life as for nearly 10-12 days, the men are working at sea. In other states, the profit share between partners is done after deducting the amount incurred through expenses. However, the scenario in Karnataka is totally different. The profits sharing in Purse seine boat is 30 per cent, while in small boats, it is 30 per cent, Leyland boat is 25 per cent, the sharing in trawler boat is 30 per cent. He said the deep fishing boats should at least have the fish catch of Rs five lakh, if the trade should be under profits. The boat owners in partnership should bear the loss. The ID card is issued to all the boat crew. The insurance and other beneficiary schemes are assured based on the identity. The amount for the financial schemes is paid by the owners of the boat. Besides the deep sea fishing boat requires 5000 to 6000 litres of diesel for 10 days.

However, the cooperative societies would earlier ensure the credit facilities for the trips on regular basis. At present the financial institutions would not assure the loan facilities to the boats as the present system would ensure the deducted amount only after 10 days, he complained.

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