According to a report in the Business Standard, Karnataka’s fish production (both marine and freshwater) for the year 2010-11 went up by 29 per cent to 5,27,000 tonnes. In terms of value, the state registered 102 per cent jump at Rs 3,109 crore as against Rs 1,539 crore during the year. The marine fish production for the year 2010-11 went up 37 per cent to 3,41,000 tonnes. Mangaluru Fishing Harbour Stage III was a project under a state-centre partnership that took off in 2010. The project expands the old Mangaluru port at Hoiege Bazar, Balor. The project was expected to be finished in October 2015. The project is still not finished in 2018. The project aims in expansion and modernisation of the old port including rest sheds, net mending sheds, auction house, radio towers, cafeteria, and dredging around the area.
The project was halted when opposed in the High Court. The High Court had passed on the case to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which had dismissed the case and had given a clearance to the project in 2016. According to John Richard Lobo, the former MLA of the Indian National Congress, the project could not take off from there as the centre is not releasing grants.
Addressing a press meet in Mangaluru on June 24, 2018, he blamed the central government for the stagnation of the project.
In 2010 the project had gotten a nod from both the state and central governments. Lobo noted that “The estimated cost of this project was Rs 57.60 crores and the central government's share was Rs 43.20 crores.”
Phase III provides additional fishery harbour facilities to the south of the existing fishing harbour along Gurupur riverside. Observing the lack of help and interest of the Central government in the project, Lobo said, “Prior to the case, Rs 51.89 crore had already been spent on this project, with the state government giving a share of Rs 38.89 crore and the central government pitching in only Rs 13 crore. "Out of the central government's share of Rs 43.20 crore, only Rs 13 crore has been released.”
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The estimated cost of the project was revised by NGT and was increased to Rs. 98.26 crores from Rs. 57.60 crores. Noting that the Central government has not responded to this revision, he said, “ There has been no response so far from the central government to the revised estimated cost of Rs 98.26 crore, which has made it difficult for the state government to move forward with this project."
No money for “Blue Revolution”?
The Phase III project was one of the projects that the Karnataka government embarked on along with a massive expansion of fishing in the three coastal districts on the west coast for an investment of Rs 275 crore, and these projects were all supposed to be state-centre partnership projects.
As in the case of this project, the Modi lead central government has been critiqued for neglecting the fisheries. For example, the centre was formulating a programme to tap water reservoirs and neglected water bodies such as wetlands for breeding through modern technologies. This programme, according to a Business Standard report, was part of “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a Blue Revolution.” According to this report, the Centre allocated Rs 1,800 crore over the period of five years and this is “much lower than what was envisaged by a working group on the 12th Five-Year Plan.” While the plan had estimated Rs 6,000 crores to achieve an average six per cent annual growth in fish production during its tenure, 2012-13 to 2016-17- the centre has allocated just the 30 per cent of this.
Lobo accused the central government of not being invested in benefiting the fish production. The report noted that “Though India’s overall fish production has shown a steady rise in recent years, the sector suffers from low-scale, stagnating yields of inland and freshwater aquaculture, and poor infrastructure for the marine fishery, leading to an estimated 15-20 per cent post-harvest loss.” The report also noted that “India’s total fish production in 2014-15 was estimated to be 10.07 million tonnes (mt), comprising 6.58 mt of inland and 3.49 mt of the marine fishery. With 5.6 per cent of global production and 2.5 per cent of world trade in fish, India is one of the world’s largest in the sector.
In a Daijiworld report, Lobo talked about the negligence of the fisheries by the central government and said that “the centre has given nothing to the fishing sector and has utterly failed in responding or even showing any concern.” He noted that the state government of Karnataka has provided diesel subsidy up to Rs 7 to 9 lac for fishing boats.
He also said, “The central government should understand on its own the urgency of releasing the funds. We have coordinated enough with the central government. Once the project is sanctioned there should be an automatic release of funds. This project has been hit not because of the rift between the state and the centre but because of the failure of the central government in releasing enough funds for the project."
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