Odisha renews drive for bio-metric IDs for seagoing fishermen

Kendrapara: Odisha government has renewed its drive to cover seagoing fishermen under an advanced bio-metric identification card system to invigorate coastal security mechanism.

After a four-year hiatus, distribution of Marine Fisheries Identity Card (MFIC) to the fishermen at their doorsteps has been resumed. It would serve as a vital means of identification to cover them under various state-sponsored social security schemes.

In the first phase of card distribution undertaken in 2012-13, 1.53 lakh fishermen and stakeholders were covered.

The second phase of the exercise has gone underway recently.

“We plan to cover 1.05 lakh people depending on sea fishing and ancillary activities,” Additional Fisheries Officer Bharat Bhusan Sahoo said.

“MFIC is a vital document for identification throughout the nation’s coastal areas. The smart card containing personal information including digital photo, fingerprints, domicile status and address, provides marine fishermen an identity number,” he said.

“We have targeted to distribute the cards to each of the identified fishermen by January end next year,” the Additional Fisheries officer said.

The data is stored in the card in a microprocessor chip, Sahoo said, adding it will empower fishermen to get benefits of state and Centre’s welfare schemes.

The state government have a fishery monitoring, control and surveillance centre, he added.

Seagoing fishermen are considered the eyes and ears of coastal security mechanism, as they can easily keep track of suspiciously moving vessels.

The MFIC project was envisaged as part of strengthening coastal surveillance system soon after the terror attacks of 26/11 in Mumbai in 2008. Besides the social security schemes for marine fishermen, the cards are being distributed as part of sea-route security measures along the coast.

The cards empower seagoing fishermen with an identity which protect them from interception during security patrolling, said nodal officer of coastal security and Additional Superintendent (Paradip) Madhabanand Sahoo.