Almost no hilsa fishermen received rice from the government’s vulnerable group feeding programme since October 12, when a 22 day-ban on catching and selling hilsas were imposed.
Until Friday, mobil courts arrested and sent to jails 994 fishermen found catching hilsas in coastal and inland river waters flouting the ban, department of fisheries control room officials told New Age Saturday.
Genuine hilsa fishermen complained that they had been left out of the list of VGF rice recipients prepared by chairmen of upazila and union parishads and municipal mayors.
They also complained that VGF rice distribution among hilsa fishermen could not be started in most of the upazilas and unions with their chairmen saying that they would do it after the council session of Awami League was over.
Ramgati upazil parishad chairman Abdul Wahed who is still in the capital told New Age that he could not distribute VGF rice among the fishermen since October 22, as he was staying in the capital.
Bhola district’s Chandpur union parishad Chairman Fakrul Alam also said the same story.
On September 29, the disaster and relief ministry provided 7,134 tonnes of rice for distribution among 3,56,723 families of marginal fishermen in 76 upazilas of 14 districts.
Family of each marginal fisherman was due to receive 20kg of rice under the VGF programme.
The 14 districts include Chandpur, Lakshmipur, Feni, Noakhali, Cox’s Bazaar, Chittagong, Bhola, Patuakhali, Barisal, Barguna, Pirojpur, Jhalkhathi, Shariatpur and Madaripur.
Virtually no needy fishermen in the 14 districts received rice under the VGF programme, said Bangladesh Khudra Matshyajibi Zele Samiti general secretary Anwar Hossain Sikder.
Abdul Khaleque, a marginal fisherman from Chandramohan union, told New Age, marginal fishermen were starving due to the ban on catching hilsa.
Shah Alam Mallik, president of Chandpur district fishermen’s association said that at least 5,033 marginal fishermen in the district were dropped from the list of VGF rice recipients .
Cox’s Bazaar Fishing Boat Owners’ Association organizing secretary Mostaq Ahmed said that the list prepared by local government units omitted the names of genuine fishermen.
Since 2007, fisheries department imposed bans on catching small hilsas from March to April and oozing hilsas from September to October.
From this year, the government introduced VGF support to fishermen to keep them away from catching hilsa during the bans.
According to Bangladesh Fish Research Institute the ban imposed in 2015 provided the nation with around 4,94,364 crore hilsa fries.
BFRI chief scientific officer MD Anwar Hossain said, proper implementation of the VGF scheme would motivate fishermen to follow the ban.
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