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Deep-sea fishing deal row | Kerala had no right to ink pact, says Union Fisheries Minister

Giriraj Singh said that the Centre will reject any such agreement.

Accusing the Kerala Government of betraying the fishing community, Union Minister for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Giriraj Singh on Monday said Kerala had no right to ink the deep-sea fishing deal with U.S.-based EMCC International. The Centre will reject any such agreement, he said.

“The State government had no right to ink such an agreement. Beyond the 12 nautical mile-mark, sea-related activities are regulated by the Central Government. Whatever agreement Kerala has entered into with the foreign company, the Government of India will reject it,” Mr. Singh said in a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram.

Mr. Singh, who is in the State as part of the NDA election campaign, said fishermen have been approaching him wherever he went with the demand that they be rescued from the deal. The concerns of the church in this regard were shared by the Alappuzha Bishop of the Latin Catholic Church, Fr. James Anaparambil, when the Union Minister called on him on Sunday.

Mr. Singh further said that Kerala Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty Amma has not contacted him even once in her official capacity.

The Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation’s (KSINC) ₹2,950 crore pact with EMCC International, which included the construction of 400 deep-sea trawlers, had kicked up a political controversy. However, the State government had been forced to cancel the agreement in the face of stiff opposition.

The 222 notified fishing villages on the Kerala coast will be developed as smart villages in a phased manner, the Union Minister said. Efforts are also on to increase the incomes of the fishermen, while at the same time reducing the risk they face at sea. As part of this, cage culture will be promoted in the near-shore waters along the Kerala coast and also the backwaters, he said.

Mr. Singh said voters in Kerala are yearning for a change from the LDF and the UDF. The LDF Government in Kerala is nothing but a “commission government” that has been encouraging goondaism, love jihad and smuggling, he alleged. Likening the LDF and UDF to ‘nagnath’ (cobra) and ‘saampnath’ (snake), Mr. Singh said what Kerala needed is ‘Vikasnath’ (NDA).

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