A state government initiative to offer new cycles fitted with insulated ice-boxes to fishermen to ensure delivery of the day’s catch at capital households will finally be off the hook this year.
The state animal husbandry and fisheries department, which had come up with the novel plan last year with an aim to put fresh fish on the plates of residents and also augment the income of vendors, will distribute 90 kits among selected fishermen by October.
So far, the department has received applications from 200 fishermen and vendors. However, it will shortlist only 90 among them depending on their need.
Speaking to The Telegraph on Thursday, district fishery officer Ravi Shankar said: “We floated fresh advertisements in June this year following which our field staff started visiting the fishermen and vendors to collect applications after verifying certain details.”
“Out of the 200 applications collected, 90 will be selected after proper scrutiny that will begin in a day or two. We will then start distributing the cycles with boxes and will wrap up the process by October,” he added.
Selection will be done on a number of parameters like whether the applicants own fish ponds and ride old cycles to sell their catch.
Special preference will be given to those who sell fish on the roadside.
The insulated ice-boxes can hold up to 20kg of fish that will remain fresh for nearly five hours, while the new cycles will help the vendors deliver the catch to their customers faster.
The fishermen will also get brand new uniforms, electronic balance et al.
Each bicycle with the kit will cost Rs 7,000 with the state government offering a subsidy of 75 per cent to BPL beneficiaries and 50 per cent to general category.
However, the scheme, which was launnched in March last year, failed to take off, as fish sellers did not register with the district fisheries department as asked.
Sources said the fishermen, being unlettered, didn’t know how to go about the process while many were not even aware about the advertisement that the department had published in newspapers.
But when asked, Shankar said: “We cannot say why the cycles could not be distributed last year.”
A few vendors like Vinod Sahu, who has been selling fish near RIMS for the past 10 years, are praying that nothing goes wrong this time. “I was approached by a saab (official) of the fisheries department, who has taken down my details. He has promised to provide me a cycle very soon. I will be able to deliver fish at houses then,” Sahu said.