‘Spare the fisherfolk, don’t privatise the harbour’

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The Sindhi Mahigir Ittehad (SMI) has alleged that the Sindh government is planning to lease Karachi Fish Harbour (KFH) to a private investor, which will be the economic murder of fisherfolk. Addressing the media at a press conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Wednesday, Sindhi Mahigir Ittehad patron-in chief Haji Muhammad Younis said that the provincial government is also supporting the Karachi Fisheries Harbour Authority (KFHA) in this conspiracy at the cost of the fisherfolk community.
He said that the Fishermen Cooperative Society (FCS) was founded in 1945 with the key purpose of playing an effective role for welfare and betterment of the fisherfolk and ensuring access to duty-free modern facilities required for carrying out their fishing activities on sustainable basis.
“In 1959, the KFH was established with the financial support of the US government and all fishing-related business activities were transferred from the Khadda market, Lyari to the KFH, while the FCS head office was also made operational at the harbour.”
“In 2003, under the chairmanship of then Sindh fisheries minister Sardar Manzoor Ali Khan Pahnwar, it was agreed that the FCS will pay Rs 10 million annually to the harbour authority for being granted the lease for 25 years of the KFH,” Younis said. “However, it is disappointing that neither any proper measurement of the leased land was conducted nor any lease plan shared with the FCS.”
The Sindhi Mahigir Ittehad patron-in chief said the FCS, since then, has been continuously writing to the KFHA for giving a legal shape to the lease agreement but till date, no lease ownership with a demarcation map has been given to the fishermen society. “The present government claims to be a democratic one and against interference in the democratic system, but the Sindh government is continuously bypassing by-laws by imposing administrators on the FCS.”
He added that the FCS has its own rules and regulations to manage its affairs.
Regarding announcement of the schedule for fresh elections for constitution of the FCS board as well as the fishermen society’s chairman and vice chairman, the Sindhi Mahigir Ittehad patron-in chief said that the elections should be held as soon as possible and the illegal appointments of FCS administrators stopped immediately. “If elections are not announced within 15 days, a protest movement will be started and a sit-in will be organised in the first phase until fresh board elections are held and illegal interference by the Sindh government stopped.”