Chennai: “My school going grandchildren do not know that their father and grandfather are dead. The irony is that though my husband's body washed ashore last week in Andhra Pradesh, my son is still missing,” said Mary Malkiya of Kasimedu fighting tears.
Mary along with her daughter-in-law Desam, in her early 30s, with police FIR, death certificates and legal heir documents are now petitioning various government authorities seeking steps to trace the missing fisherman, Sahayaraj of north Chennai and also release of funds from the Chief Minister's relief fund and fishermen welfare society that are due to the bereaved family.
“With government officials focusing on elections, administrative files related to various accidents are postponed and there are several such cases in all fishing hamlets of Tamil Nadu,” said Nanjil P. Ravi, spokesperson, National Union of Fishermen Association.
The fisheries department cites the model code of conduct for delay in paying compensation. The family with kids, sans their breadwinners, is
literally starving. The young widow has to pay the school fees for her children next month, said Ravi, who is now meeting local politicians and fisheries department officials.
According to M. E. Raja, an advocate, there are a lot of administrative lapses in the functioning of the fisheries welfare board and fisheries department when it comes to handling relief for fisherfolk.
For instance, a compensation of `2,000 is not given during the period of ban on fishing. The money reaches fishermen only later. Similarly, village heads of fishermen cooperative societies delay depositing the sum paid by members and this at times leads to denial of compensation to fishermen.
When contacted, a senior fisheries department official admitted that a few files were pending due to model code of conduct. “We will look into the matter,” the official said.