Friday, April 29, 2011

TAMIL NADU: Cheque payment for relief irks fishermen

By G Saravanan
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on April 29, 2011:

CHENNAI: More than 1.43 lakh fishermen families living in the state’s 13 coastal districts are up in arms against the government after it decided to distribute the fishing-ban-period relief assistance of Rs 1,000 through cheques this year instead of the widely accepted cash payment.
“The state Fisheries Department should reconsider its decision to distribute cheques to fishermen families, as encashing it in banks is a tedious process since most of them are uneducated and had never stepped into banks in their life,” K Bharathi, president of South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association told Express.The distribution of the dole is scheduled to begin in another couple of days, sources said.
Though Fisheries Department sources maintained that the move was to stop chances of malpractice during distribution, the fishermen are of the view that distribution of cash would help them, since encashing cheques would take days.
The state government in 2009 distributed dole of Rs 500 in cheques, but faced the fisherfolk’s wrath as they struggled to get it encashed. Last year, Fisheries Minister K P P Samy’s timely ‘advise’ to the authorities made them distribute the amount in cash (Rs 800) to all fishing families.
Despite previous experiences, the officials have not taken the right decision, lamented M D Dayalan, president of Indian Fishermen Association. 
The fishermen also feel that Rs 1,000 was insufficient for 45 days, he added. When compared to the average wages of Rs 150 to Rs 250 during normal days, the amount, which worked out to Rs 22 a day, was very meagre, Dayalan said.

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