Seafood exporters want separate fisheries ministry (Lead with correction)

May 26th, 2009 - 8:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Kochi, May 26 (IANS) A seafood exporters’ lobby in Kerala has urged the government to create a separate ministry for fisheries.
“This would be beneficial not only for us, but also for the five million people who are dependent on the industry including the fishing community,” said Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) president Anwar Hashim.

“If the industry gets a separate minister, it will help things move faster,” Hashim told IANS.

K.V. Thomas, a Congress party parliamentarian from the Ernakulam constituency, has reportedly begun vying for the ministerial post.

He was the fisheries minister in the A.K. Antony-led state cabinet in 2001-04.

SEAI has made a representation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi in this regard.

The exporters’ demand comes amid reports that in order to raise resources, the new government could revive the disinvestment ministry - created earlier by the Bharatiya Janata party-led coalition government but reduced to a department when the UPA came to power in 2004.

At present, the aquaculture and farming operations of the seafood industry falls under the agricultural ministry, the financial aspect comes under the purview of the finance ministry, the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) operates under the commerce ministry, and the processing and other activities are part of the food processing ministry.

“A separate ministry will bring all these functions under one roof and help us improve business potential,” Hashim said.

For instance, he said, exporters had planned to set up an effluent treatment plant and a dedicated electrical sub-station at Aroor near here, but the proposal could not be taken forward in the past two years because of the complications in getting approvals from various ministries.

The central government had earlier promised to grant Rs.50 crore for setting up treatment plants and a power stations.

“If the demand from our side for a common treatment plant at Aroor is met, our costs will come down. More importantly the entire area becomes free from pollution,” a sea food exporter told IANS.

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