'India to Ratify ILO Convention 188': Minister for Labour
NFF Welcomes the Decision
New Delhi: Marking a major victory for the long struggle of fish workers across the country, and a huge shift from its earlier position, Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Oscar Fernandez has declared that India agreed to ratify the ILO Convention 188 - Work in Fishing Convention, 2007. He has made this declaration today (Nov 6) at the sit-in of National Fishworkers' Forum (NFF) in Delhi.
The Minister promised a comprehensive national level legislation incorporating the provisions and extending the scope of the Convention to cover all the fish workers in the country. Reiterating his commitment for its implementation, he has agreed to meet a delegation of NFF soon to discuss the details.
NFF welcomes this decision and appreciate the government for making this happen. "A genuine effort for the speedy implementation of the provisions in the Convention is what is urgently needed," Harekrishna Debanath, Chairperson of NFF said.
The sit-in, entering the third day, is getting support from different quarters. Organisations associated with National Alliance of People's Movements and Delhi Solidarity Group has visited the sit-in and has extended their support. Members of Parliament and other dignitaries have visited the sit-in. A NFF delegation would meet Minister for Defense Mr. A. K. Antony later this evening.
Summing up the determination of the fish workers, senior NFF activist, T Peter said, "We will not leave the sea and the coast for the sand-mining, tourism and industry lobby and will confront them every inch to reclaim them. If the government fails to take appropriate actions, they will face the consequences in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections."
The sit-in demands:
·Withdraw the draft Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) Notification and implement Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 1991
·Stop privatization of marine and inland water bodies and the coastal zone – enact appropriate legislation to protect traditional fisher peoples' preferential access and inalienable customary rights to coastal and marine resources
·Enact comprehensive fisheries legislation for the EEZ
·Cancel all letters of permit (LoP) given to foreign vessels for fishing in our waters
·Stop import of fish that threatens the livelihood of fisher people
·Lift ban on small-scale fishermen using sustainable gears and protect traditional livelihood
·Provide livelihood assistance on Kerosene and diesel for sustainable fishing
·Enact National Law to extend benefits of ILO convention to all fish workers
·Enact and implement the Unorganized Workers' Social Security Bill
·GoI to secure release of Indian fishermen and fishing boats captured by Pakistan and Sri Lanka
·Waive debts of fisher people along with the farmers
More than five hundred fishworkers from all the coastal states of India are part of this agitation in Jantar Mantar, Delhi, demanding protection of the coast and their traditional rights.
The Indian coasts, its traditional people and the coastal ecosystem are facing a crisis like never before. The traditional protectors of the sea and the coast, the fishworkers, are being thrown out of their habitats. The sea and the coastal areas are being pledged to vested interests and commercial establishments including foreign and domestic companies. Existing protection mechanisms like Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ, since 1991) are being violated and sabotaged to cater to the interest of hoteliers and industrial units. To further damage this fragile situation, the Government of India is bring in a new notification titled 'Coastal Management Zone' (CMZ), in line with the Swaminathan Committee Recommendations. The draft CMZ Notification of the Ministry of Environment and Forests is all set to bulldoze traditional and customary rights of the fishing community over the coastal zone. If implemented, the CMZ will disrupt the lives and livelihood of 3202 fishing villages across the 8000 km long coastline of India.
Fisher people conducted a national campaign titledMachhimar Adhikar Rashtriya Abhiyanalong the coastline of the country from Jakhau, Gujarat to Kolkata, West Bengal from 1st May 2008 under the aegis of National Fishworkers' Forum (NFF). As a culmination of the national campaign, more than five hundred fishermen and women from the coastal states have reached Delhi on 3rd November 2008 to put pressure on Government of India, with their Charter of Demands. Several agitation programmes side by side with a mass dharna at Jantar Mantar will take place from 4thto 7thNovember 2008 including a public meeting at the Constitution Club on 5th November afternoon are being planned by NFF.
Vasundhara Jairath Pallavi Mansingh Jibin Robin Bipin Rai
In support of NFF agitation in Delhi – Delhi Solidarity Group.
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Unrest looms over the coasts of our country. The coastal fisherpeople, under severe duress, have been compelled to unleash a national campaign to fight for conserving the coastal and marine resources and for protecting their lives and livelihood. The campaign starts from 1st May 2008 and ends on 27th June 2008. The national agitation of the fisherpeople covers the whole stretch of our coast from the Run of Kutch in Gujarat to Sundarban in West Bengal extending over all the nine coastal states.