THE third national conference of All India Fishers and Fisheries Worker’s Federation (AIFFWF) was successfully held at Uluberia, West Bengal on 11-12 May 2022. 189 delegates from 9 states participated in the conference, which was inaugurated by Tapan Sen, general secretary of CITU.
Tushar Ghosh, president of AIFFWH, Kootai Basheer, Sudhan Das, Uma Sarkar, L Balakrishna and Karuna Moorthi acted as the presidium.
The conference unanimously adopted the report placed by Hemalata, general secretary, including the charter of demands and the tasks and the statement of accounts.
A 41 member working committee was unanimously elected by the conference. The working committee in turn unanimously elected a team of 15 office bearers with Debashis Barman as president, Pulluvila Stanley as general secretary and G Mamatha as treasurer of AIFFWF.
The conference decided to expand and strengthen the AIFFWF across the country by consistently taking up the local issues of all segments of fishers, raise their awareness about the neoliberal policies and also overcome the organisational weaknesses. It has decided that the charter of demands adopted by the conference and the tasks up to the lowest level village/ habitation committees of the organisation.
The conference unanimously demanded the withdrawal of the ‘Blue economy policy’ and it also emphasised on the importance of demanding policies which protect the livelihood and habitat of fishers who constitute the poorest sections of the society. It also strongly demanded a halt to all activities related to ‘Sagarmala’ project and asked the government to organise a more detailed discussion with the stakeholders.
The conference highlighted the importance of having a stable natural ecosystem and demanded the concerned governments to take pro-active steps to protect the environment, and thereby the human population as a whole. It also called upon all the fishers and toiling people to uphold their unity, and unitedly defeat the heinous attempts which are communal and divisive, polarising the society which ultimately serve the domestic and foreign corporates. The conference also demanded the central government to provide kerosene at subsidised rate and also to ensure group accident insurance coverage of Rs 10 lakhs to all fishermen and fisheries allied workers by providing insurance premium free of cost.
The national conference resolved to overcome all the weakness and shortcomings in the functioning and development of the All-India Federation, as a strong national level organisation of the fishers and fisheries workers. It put forth a charter demands for campaigns in the days to come. The charter of demands includes various important issues related to fisher folk viz, issue of identity cards to fishers, ensure social security benefits to fishers which include pension of Rs 3000 per month, free health care, free education to their children, ban the licences of foreign fishing vessels, provide loan at low interest rates, ban catching of fish during major breeding season, ban mechanized trawlers to catch fish within 12 nautical miles, ensure effective implementation of Coastal Regulation Zone notification, protect the livelihood of fishers, formulate relief and rehabilitation package for all the fishers displaced due to the developmental projects, provide fuel at subsidised rate, provide wide network of cold storage facilities, ensure sea wall to prevent coastal erosion, scrap the four labour codes, stop privatisation etc.
The conference decided to strengthen the all India centre of the federation with cadres to improve its functioning so as to address the issues of the toiling and marginalised people of fisheries and allied sectors in various states of India. It was also decided to form village/habitat level committees of the union in all villages/mohallas so as to enhance the membership in 2022 to five lakhs, by conducting special membership campaign in all the states. It was decided to take up a month long campaign in June to popularise the charter of demands adopted in this conference among all segments of fishers across the country. On the occasion of 75 years of independence, a 15-day campaign highlighting the vision of toiling people in the struggle for independence, the need to protect unity of our people and their constitutional rights would be organised culminating in a mass programme on August 14, 2022. Ten days campaign will be taken-up against the communal divisive forces and on the need to strengthen unity among the fishers. It was also decided to take up campaign against the policies of central government like deep sea fishing, Sagarmala, Blue economy etc.
The conference thanked the West Bengal Rajya Matsyajeebi Samiti for the very good arrangements made for the conference. Debashis Barman presented the vote of thanks.