No fishing for Chenchus

KURNOOL, August 20, 2011

Collector refers matter to RDO A group of Chenchus from Sivapuram in Kothapalli mandal complained to Collector Ramsankar Naik about local fishermen and authorities depriving them of their fishing rights.
They alleged that a group of local fishermen and police forced them to sign a bond at a local panchayat that prevents them from fishing in the backwaters of Srisailam reservoir till 2015.
As per the agreement, Chenchu families will not be allowed to fish or sell their catch for the next four years. The fishermen of Sivapuram would have absolute fishing rights over the waters.
The confrontation between the Chenchu families and traditional backward class fishermen has been on for some time over fishing at Chintamanugadda, Chenchukonda, Ragimanupenta and Lingammagadda.
The confrontation stemmed after the introduction of semi-mechanised equipment by the traditional fishermen while the Chenchus still used age-old small nets and baskets. The local fishermen asked Chenchus not to disturb the water with their small nets while the Chenchu fishermen groused that the other group was altering topography by putting up structures to employ long nylon nets.
The friction led to them reaching the police stations at Kothapalli in Kurnool and Kollapuram in Mahabubnagar districts where the Chenchus received an adverse verdict. The local panchayat constituted by the police went in favour of the investment made by traditional fishermen and supported them by allowing them to exclusively take up fishing for the next four years to recover their investment.
Chenchu fishermen argue that 187 families of their community had been granted fishing rights by the fisheries department and had even approached the revenue authorities for the recognition of the right under the Recognition of Forest Rights Act.
The Collector referred the matter to the Revenue Divisional Officer since the issues under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 were involved. The RDO is the Chairman of the Sub-divisional Committee.
• Local fishermen ask Chenchus not to use small nets and baskets and disturb water
• Local panchayat favours traditional fishermen; give them exclusive rights to fishing waters