Fishermen's issues: After land, Rahul Gandhi to wage war over sea

Kochi: Apart from running a high voltage campaign against Narendra Modi government over farmers' issue, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi will step up his outreach to more working class segments by taking up traditional fishermen's woes during his visit to Kerala's coastal hamlet next week.

Congress whip in Lok Sabha K C Venugopal said Rahul will visit Chavakkad, a small coastal town in Thrissur district, next week where fishermen are agitating against the Centre's decision to extend trawling ban from 47 days to 61 days. Gandhi's two-day Kerala visit will begin on May 26.

During budget session of Parliament, Gandhi had accused Modi government of going against the interests of fishermen in coastal states, saying a ban by the 'suit-boot ki sarkar' was not allowing them to do fishing but foreign trawlers were allowed to do so, a charge denied by the government.

Venugopal said Gandhi would interact with members of the fishermen community during his Chavakkad visit on May 27. "Trawling ban has been extended by the government from 47 days to 61 days and from 12 nautical miles to 200 nautical miles of the Indian sea. It has created a lot of apprehension among the fishermen community in the country," the Alappuzha MP told PTI.

The issue was raised in Parliament, he said. Congress-led UDF government in Kerala has said the state would not implement the Centre's directive to impose uniform ban on trawling by all fishing vessels in coastal areas from June 1 to July 31 in the 12 nautical miles off state coast. As usual, monsoon trawling ban would be imposed in the coastal belt of the state for 47 days, the government has said.

Normally, the trawling ban in the state is between June 15 to July 31. Venugopal said the Centre's decision to extend trawling ban has been taken as per the recommendation of Syda Rao-Gopalakrishnan Committee. But Syda Rao, who was chairman of the Experts Committee which studied the pros and cons of a uniform fishing ban, has dissociated with the controversial recommendation of the Committee, he said.

"It is against the Kerala Act also. So, the Centre should withdraw the order," said Venugopal.

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