Mrunal Manmay Dash

Thousands of fishermen from Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts arrived in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday and congregated at the Lower PMG square staging a protest against the Odisha government.

The fishermen have congregated under the banner of Odisha State Fishermen Federation.

Wearing blue caps and waving blue flags, the fishermen demanded subsidy in diesel, regular dredging in sea mouths, stoppage of chemical waste from industries draining into the sea, an end to misbehaviour by forest department officials and coast guards and formation of a fishermen welfare fund.

They alleged that despite requesting the government many times in the past, the administration has turned a deaf ear to their demands.

“We are fishermen. Our job is to fish in the rivers and sea. It is unfortunate that we have to leave the waters and take to the streets because of the government's apathy towards us. With a rapidly depleting fish in the sea, our livelihood is already hit. And with Rs 94 per litre diesel rate, it has become really difficult to feed our family,” rued a protesting fisherman.

“No less than seven coastal states are providing diesel subsidy to fishermen. But Odisha is the only exception. We have written many times to the government. But nobody is concerned about our plight. So, we are forced to come to Bhubaneswar to press our demands,” he added.

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