Millennium Post

1,700 Sunderbans fishermen to get boat licence certificates

Kolkata: The state government will issue as many as 1,700 boat licence certificates (BLCs) to fishermen in the Sunderbans, allowing them the privilege to venture into the rivers for catching fishes and crabs. A majority of the people inhabiting the mangrove forest are dependent on fishing and catching crabs for their livelihood.

As per records of the state government, there are a total of 4,700 BLCs issued to the fishermen. Around 1,723 of them are lying inactive, with the licence holders hardly venturing out. The licences were issued over 8 years ago. "We want needy and poor fishermen to reap the benefits of BLC. I have instructed the committee responsible for dealing with the issues of fishermen to ensure this," state Forest minister Binay Krishna Burman said.

A high level meeting was held at Aranya Bhavan in Salt Lake on Monday in presence of ministers in charge and higher officials of the state Forest, Fisheries and Sunderban Affairs department and the Fishermen's Association in the area. Apart from Burman, state Fisheries minister Chandranath Sinha and Sunderban Affairs minister (Independent Charge) Manturam Pakhira were also present in the meeting.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had formed a committee in 2017 that has representatives from the ground level to address the issues of fishermen and ensure that they can eke out a decent living. The committee will make a list of the 1,700 fishermen to whom the BLCs will be issued.

Meanwhile, an association of fishermen demanded fishing rights in the entire area of Sunderbans Tiger Reserve and also allowance of mechanised boats for fishing. However, officials of the state government made it clear that fishing activities should be carried out in accordance to the rules earmarked for fishing.

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