Success of Fish Workers and Jal Shramik Convention in Patna, Bihar – ActionAid India
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Success of Fish Workers and Jal Shramik Convention in Patna, Bihar

Published on: Tuesday, 3rd October 2023

Author: Shalini Perumal (with inputs from Saurabh Kumar)

On April 9, 2023ActionAid Association helped organize the Jal Shramik Sangh provincial conference in Patna in collaboration with the Ganga Mukti Andolan, Jal Shramik Sangh and the Braj Kishore Memorial. Sarvodaya leader P.B. Rajagopal presided over the function, while National Coordinator of Ganga Mukti Andolan Ramsharan and Rashtra Seva Dal Provincial President Uday conducted it. The program’s special guest was Arvind Nishad, a member of the Most Backward Classes Commission.
During the convention, Yogendra Sahni, provincial convenor of the Jal Shramik Sangh, said that in 1991, the right to fish was given to traditional fishermen. Still, all the rivers and streams of Bihar were not gazetted. According to the Gazette, fishing by poisoning, explosion or electrocution is prohibited, yet this law has remained ineffective due to lack of stringent implementationEfforts were needed to ensure the livelihood of fishermen and prevent migration. Also, authorities must balance the right to fish with the need to avoid depleting rivers from fish stock. The fishermen stressed the need for the Legislative Assembly to pass a bill giving communities the right to fishThrough that Act, practices deemed detrimental to the eco-diversity of rivers, such as fencing and running of small nets, should be declared a cognizable offence, with strict punishment. Furthermoreparticipants expressed the need to include fishermen in Scheduled Tribes. This would go a long way in recognizing their vulnerable status and help in taking steps to improve their livelihoods.
The meeting decided to send a delegation to the Hon’ble Minister of Fisheries and Animal Husbandry of Bihar and convey the issues of concern raised by the participantsThe conference also expressed the need for fisherfolk to form a registered union. The meeting elected an executive committee and declared that the association should be named Matsyajibi Water Workers Union.
Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director, ActionAid Association, spoke at the eventsharing how climate change has impacted traditional livelihoods, underlining the need to assess such damage caused and provide proper compensation to all.
A large number of civil society activists attended the conference. About 400 fishermen from various districts of Bihar, including Bhagalpur, Munger, Nawada, Supaul, Samastipur, Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Saran, Bhojpur, and Patna, participated.