Alappuzha: KC Venugopal, a senior Congress MP, on Sunday defied the Centre's directive of 61-day uniform trawling ban by venturing into deep sea fishing in a motorized boat along with his party colleagues and traditional fishermen.
Justifying his action of using a motorised boat to go beyond 12 nautical miles from Azheekkal harbour in Kayamkulam in the district to catch fish, Venugopal, former Union Minister and Alappuzha MP, said "it is not humanly possible for someone to go beyond 12 nautical miles in a non-motorised boat and catch fish in troubled season".
Talking to PTI over phone from the sea, Venugopal flayed the Centre's order on June 3 exempting non-motorised fishing boats from the uniform fishing ban imposed in the exclusive economic zone which extends 12 nautical miles beyond territorial waters.
"I am challenging the government to take action against me for violating this order. How can a traditional non-motorised boat go beyond 12 nautical miles, catch fish and return safely particularly during Monsoon season? The poor fishermen are not yoga experts to perform wonders like Narendra Modi," the Congress MP said.
Venugopal, who vociferously protested the Centre's trawling ban decision in Lok Sabha during budget session of Parliament, said 30 traditional fishermen led by him and 'Kerala Pradesh Matsya Thozhilali Congress' leader T N Prathapan, party MLA, went up to 14 nautical miles from Azheekkal in a motorised boat for fishing operations.
"The Narendra Modi government is insensitive towards fishermen community. The government is trying to take away the rights of seas from this poor section of our society. The government is doing so to help their corporate friends who are keen on exploiting all our natural resources including the seas," Venugopal said.
Stating that he would continue to raise the issue of fishermen in Parliament, he lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying "Modi believes only in monologue and not in dialogue" and he should also "try to understand the problems of marginalized sections of the society like fishermen community in the country". "We will continue our agitation....we will violate the Centre's insensitive order," Prathapan said.
Earlier, the Congress-led UDF government in Kerala said that the state will not implement the Centre's directive to impose uniform ban on trawling by all fishing vessels in coastal areas from June 1 to July 31. The Congress leaders' agitation came a week after Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi criticised the Modi government on the fishermen issue, accusing it of trying to take away their access to seas the same way it has been "taking away precious land from farmers."