With its vast coastal belt, Gujarat is India’s largest fish producer, with fisheries situated across a catchment area of 1600 Kms. Even in the blocks of Mundra and Mandvi, fishing is the primary occupation in the villages located around the coastal region. The area surrounding the coastline also houses the fishermen families engaged in Pisciculture (fish farming).
Over the years, a myriad of problems has emerged to make catching fish a challenge for local fishermen. Unstable markets, lack of awareness on modern fishing techniques and methods, combined with no availability of alternative employment opportunities make fish catching a daunting task.
Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Power Company, collaborated with Swadeep, an organisation that works with the fishing community in Tragadi Bunder, to help the fishing community make a sustainable livelihood and quality life. The initiative focuses on steering the fishing community towards socio economic progress as well as ensures community engagement for the migrant fishing community working in the coastal temporary hamlet of Tragadi Bunder under its ” Sagarbandhu Program”
The Sagarbandhu program has been initiated by CGPL since 2010-11. The aim of the program is for all-round development of the migrant fishermen community at Tragadi Bunder. The program is focusing on several initiatives like formation of Development Committee, Provision of schools for the children of the migrant fishermen in convergence with the ongoing govt schemes to create a suitable learning environment for the children , establishment of Fishermen Information Centre, Technological intervention through introduction of Potential Fishing Zone which is helping the fishermen a lot for their fishing activities, motorable roads, capacity building and exposure visit for better fishing, Solar boat light and street light for the boats and for sorting of the fishes in their hamlets. The initiative also provides good quality equipment including fishing net and hand gloves in Tragadi Bunder. Periodic health camps and also this site is covered under the CGPL mobile medical van for better health services, Sanitation facility etc. Through the program which is aimed for betterment of the fishermen , sports and also other cultural activities are being organised.
In addition, the initiative also assists the debt-ridden fishermen in finances. Four microfinance groups have been formed, with a sum of Rs.28,37,000/- distributed amongst the fishermen to pay-off their debts. The finances can further be used by fishermen for buying equipment. These microfinancing initiatives have proven to break the shackles of debt and in turn, improve their quality of life.
CGPL’s intervention has demonstrated to be a boon for the fishermen, whose situation has undergone a sea-change. For CGPL, it is just a small step forward in its attempt to transform lives.