To address the security concern raised by the Indian Coast Guard, the department of fisheries will conduct a 11-day drive to issue biometric identity cards to fishermen. Starting from June 20, the drive will be held in the three coastal districts of Karnataka – Uttara Kannada, Udupi and Dakshina Kannada. The drive will be aimed at providing a valid identity card to all the fishermen who are yet to receive one. Coast guards are wary of fishermen spotted on the high seas without the cards. The department has so far issued 67, 000 biometric cards to the fishermen in three districts including 10,327 in Dakshina Kannada, 21,500 in Udupi and 34,300 in Uttara Kannada. It has plans to provide 5,000 odd cards to fishermen in DK, 10,000 cards to fishermen in Udupi and 15,000 cards in Uttara Kannada during the drive that ends on June 30. It has also identified 25 places in the three districts where these camps will be held to issue ID cards. H S Veerappa Gowda, director, department of fisheries said that the officials in the districts will finalise the places where the camps are to be held and dispatch biometric unit and application scanning equipment to these places from June 18. “We will be seeking assistance from the local fishermen bodies and organisations to conduct these camps and also their assistance to identify local fishermen who are yet to receive the biometric identity cards,” he told TOI. Admitting that the Coast Guards had expressed concerns over a large number of fishermen from Karnataka coast entering the sea without biometric smart cards, Veerappa Gowda said at a recent meeting in Bengaluru, “Coast Guard officers pointed that they had randomly checked boats in sea and found that many fishermen did not possess smart cards. The fishermen should bring their Aadhaar cards and other documents sought by the department while coming for the camp.” The camps are being held as per specific directions given by the Union government to all coastal states to expedite the process of issuing such cards to fishermen, he said adding that it also coincides with an off-fishing season. The department will issue the cards to labourers from northern states and other non-coastal districts who work on fishing boats once they return after the fishing holiday, allaying concerns among fishermen leaders on this vital issue.

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