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Fishermen threaten fast unto death

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Livelihoods under threat

MR, Rajitha made ‘false promises’

Fishermen in Balapitiya threaten to launch a fast unto death claiming that repeated calls for authorities to build a fisheries harbor in the vicinity of the Madu Ganga (Madu River) have fallen on deaf ears.

Currently the fishermen are unable to set out to sea from the port due to the accumulation of sand where the Madu Ganga enters the sea. According to them, this occurs every three months and requires the extraction of sand through mechanical means.
“We have to carry our boats over the sand banks for a long distance if we are to go fishing” said fishermen S. Chandrasekara adding that this issue has become a serious problem to their livelihood.

According to Galle District Fisheries Organization Treasurer R. Senaratne many politicians including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Cabinet Minister Rajitha Senaratne, during their tenures as Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, laid foundation stones promising to construct a harbor in the area.

“These were all false promises that did not come to fruition due to various issues” he said adding that a harbor is the only permanent solution to the dilemma they face. The fishermen question as to how areas with less fishermen in surrounding areas were given fisheries harbors by the previous government? Currently there are around 500 fisher families in the area.  Last week the fishermen staged a protest requesting the sand be extracted to help them to carry out their trade. Not receiving a timely response from authorities the sand banks are now being dug up using donations made by Balapitiya chief organizer of the United National Party Kamal Jayantha De Soysa and PS Member Ushan Mendis. The duo have currently footed a bill of rupees one hundred thousand for the project. This project is expected to cost around rupees three hundred thousand to see its completion.  Speaking to The Nation, Media Secretary to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, Gihan De Silva said while he is aware of the fact the previous government had plans to build a fisheries harbor in Balapitiya, he was currently unaware of its status. (See Insight)

Last modified on Friday, 03 April 2015 18:38
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