A group of fishermen gheraoed the office of the additional fisheries officer (marine) demanding payment of government subsidy here in Ganjam district Friday. The fishermen alleged they were deprived of boats, engines and fishing nets through government subsidy. They said they ran from pillar to post for release of subsidy but their pleas fell on deaf ears for years. They alleged that the problem has been prevailing for the last two years. This has affected their livelihood and has had a serious impact on their families, they added. According to sources, the office of the additional fisheries officer (Marine), Khetrabasi Behera, is near Takaria Berhampur under Kanmana panchayat in Chhatrapur block. However, Behera has been absent from work for the last five months and is nowhere to be seen, alleged the protesters. Failing to meet Behera for the last four months, fishermen Friday locked the office and staged a demonstration outside the office. According to rules, a boat engine costs Rs 57,850. Accordingly, a beneficiary is supposed to deposit Rs 34,000 in a bank while the remaining amount would be made available as subsidy from the bank. The bank will provide a cheque after obtaining clearance from Behera. However, the beneficiaries are deprived of the subsidy even after depositing the initial amount. They are not getting subsidy as Behera is absent from the office for the last several months now. “It is now prawn season and we require engines, the fishermen said. The protesters said Behera is in-charge of three offices and all the fishermen are facing problems. They demanded strict measures in this regard and warned of mass demonstrations if no steps were taken. They later forwarded a copy of a written memorandum in favour of the district collector while another copy was forwarded to senior officials of the fisheries department. The demonstration was held under the guidance of Aryapalli panchayat naib-sarpanch M Gumali while more than 20 fishermen participated in the demonstration. Some of the fishermen included Surendra Behera, Sridhar Surendra, M Surendra, J Gangadhar, M Kedar, B Bhimsen and B Krishna.

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