People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 45

November 11, 2012





‘Fisherfolk Must Join Struggle

against Neo-liberal Policies’


FISHERS and fisheries workers of the country must unite with other toiling masses and wage a common struggle to protect their rights and livelihood in the face of severe onslaught of neo-liberal economic policies. They must actively take part in the coming struggles of the working class against UPA-II government’s ruinous policies.


This was the call given by CITU president A K Padmanabhan to the fishers while addressing the rally of fishers and fisheries workers in Vishakapatnam on November 5, 2012. The rally marked the inauguration of three-day Second National Conference of All India Fishers and Fisheries Workers’ Federation (AIFFWF). The rally started from Convent Junction and culminated at Ganshi statue near Municipal office.


The conference began in the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Nilam that battered the coastal regions of Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, damaging crops and property. Despite continuous rains and flood like situation in many parts of the north coastal districts, fisherfolk turned up for the rally. The already ruined farmers and fishers took a heavy hit due to cyclone Nilam. Padmanabhan demanded that the government must offset the losses suffered by fishers and fisheries workers during such cyclones. Instead of the government just being content to giving advice to fishermen during not to venture into sea during such calamities, it should proactively take steps to compensate the fishers and provide relief, he said.


Calling for a united struggle to achieve legal status to their right to fishing, he said fishermen in coastal areas had a common problem – the threat of depriving them of their right to fish in the seas due to indiscriminate allotment of lands and seacoast to corporates and big investors. Strongly criticising the central and state governments that do not hesitate to shoot at fisherfolk for daring to ask that their livelihood be protected, the CITU leader called for continuing the militant struggles. The fisherfolk of Vishakapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam along with other toiling masses waged bitter struggles against establishment of thermal merchant power plants in the area. The Congress government resorted to firing in Kakarapally and Sompeta to quell these struggles. “The fishers are not asking the government to build for them the 27 storied bungalow of Mukesh Ambani in Mumbai. They are just seeking protection of their livelihood by granting them rights to fish”, he said.


Padmanabhan told the gathering about the two-day general strike called by central trade union on February 20 and 21 next year and requested full-fledged participation of fishers in it. He said this was the first time that a two-day all India general strike has been called by unions and the demands being focussed include universal public distribution system; continuation of subsidies; efforts to stop marine pollution and ban FDI in retail outlets. He said the national conference would discuss threadbare the issues facing the fishers and formulate struggles to achieve the demands.


Former  chairman of Kerala Matsyafed and general secretary of AIFFWF V V Saseendran in his speech said the UPA-II regime was so insensitive that it did not bother when Italian Navy personnel shot our fishermen at sea. The government instead of protecting our fishermen is bent on ruining their lives by snatching away their rights to fishing. The fisherfolk who were earning valuable foreign reserves for the country through exports were themselves facing ruin due to neglect of governments. They have no proper shelter, access to education etc. He listed out the positive steps taken by the Left governments in Kerala and Bengal safeguarding the interests of fisherfolk. He said the conference would discuss the issue of allowing foreign trawlers into our waters and demand its banning.


AIFFWF state unit general secretary L. Balakrishna said out of 974-km long coastline in AP, the government has sold off 264 km to multinationals, Special Economic Zones and others with a vested interest ignoring the demand by fishermen not to displace them.


Former CITU state president Ch Narsinga Rao, AIFFWF state president N Kumaraswamy , reception committee chairman K Polayya and others also addressed the rally.