Pak confiscated boats leave Veraval fishermen in state of lament

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Veraval (Gujarat), Dec.3 (ANI): Ever since their boats were confiscated by Pakistan authorities, fishermen of Veraval and other minor ports in Gujarat are in trouble.

The names and registration numbers of their boats, presently detained in Pakistan, stand cancelled by the state and federal governments and they are not allowed to build or own new boats and trawlers with the same reference.

The government mooted this policy in the wake of the Kuber boat incident of 2008.

This boat was hijacked by the 10 Pakistan-based terrorists on the high seas to reach Mumbai on November 26 last year. Later the terrorists laid a siege at three prominent spots in the city and killed over 166 people.

The security-oriented move by the government has hit the income of the fishermen.

"Pakistani (maritime guards) imprisoned us with our boat (after we had strayed into Pakistan's territorial waters). We were released after sometime but they kept our boat. I informed the Gujarat (state) government and central (federal) governments about our plight but to nothing happened. Now, I have no means to earn my livelihood and I am finding hard to live life," said Shanker Mavji, a fisherman of Veraval.

According to the Directorate of Fisheries, the registration numbers of such boats have been annulled to avoid any other possible incident a-la the Kuber.

"Pakistan authorities after sometime released the captured fishermen but not their boat. As a result, the Gujarat government and central (federal) government have decided to cancel their registration numbers and the notification has also been annulled," said V K Shukla, Assistant Director of Fisheries, Gujarat, Veraval.

However, it was also clarified that a new scheme has been launched to help those fishermen whose boats have been in the custody of Pakistan.

"Under a new scheme (launched by the Indian government) a fisherman whose boat has been confiscated, will get rupees six lakhs (600 thousand rupees or 13008 US dollars) to restart his business. The amount would be deposited in the bank and he will also get subsidy," added V K Shukla.

Veraval alone has around 2500 boats and trawlers, a figure that is beyond the capacity of to the port's jetties. (ANI)

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