Fishers give revenue, denied govt facilities
Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation (BFDC) collects a large amount of revenue every year through the fish landing centre in Mahalchhari upazila of the district, but fishermen and fish traders do not get any facilities from the government.
Mahalchhari fish landing centre is one of five landing centres on the bank of Kaptai lake. Although the government collects revenue from the centre every year, there has been no development of the centre. The BFDC office is run with only five employees, while the ice factory there never went into production, and there is no arrangement for fish packaging.
The government imposed restrictions on fishing in Kaptai lake in the fish breeding season (from May to July).
Officer-in-Charge of Mahalchhari sub-station of BFDC Nasir Ullah Ahmed said BFDC earned Tk 32.43 lakh in August and September after lifting of the ban, while the catch was 2 lakh 17 thousand 643 kg.
Leaders of Mahalchhari Fisheries Association said there are 1,688 registered fishermen in the upazila. Apart from this, many fishermen catch fish in Kaptai lake every day. The fish are sent to Feni, Comilla and Dhaka.
The leaders of the association complained that they pay revenue to the government but get little benefit. There is no shed for fish packaging and the BFDC ice factory is not in operation, they said, adding that they cannot preserve the fish due to lack of ice.
Rabiul Islam, a leader of the association, said the ice problem is very serious in Mahalchhari. Ice is needed during storage and transport of fish, but the necessary quantity is not produced there.
There are several private ice factories in Mahalchhari, but they cannot meet the needs of the fishermen, he said, adding that the BFDC ice factory could have met the demand as its production capacity is more.
Mahalchhari Fisheries Association General Secretary Abul Khayer said the fishermen live in want during the ban period, but the government does not have any incentive for them, while the fishermen of Rangamati get benefit from the government.
Nasir of BFDC said the centre needs more manpower.
District Fisheries Officer Abdul Rauf acknowledged the problems of the fishermen in the upazila.