Puri fishermen in distress amid corona scare

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Puri: The worldwide coronavirus scare and subsequent government measures to tackle the situation have affected the livelihood of thousands of fishermen at Penthakata here.

At least 10,000 families of Penthakata usually depend upon fishing activities in the sea to earn livelihood. Most of the fishermen of the locality usually venture into the sea in early morning and return to the shore in the afternoon.

Some fishermen also carry out fishing activities at night and return home in the morning, sources said. The fishermen sell their catch to traders and hoteliers, sources added.

However, the coronavirus scare has discouraged people to take non-vegetarian meals even though there was no advice in this regard from the Health department. Besides, almost all hotels and restaurants in the city have been closed down as a precautionary measure against the deadly virus.

“In the prevailing situation, traders are unwilling to buy fish from us. Discontinuation of train services and the restrictions imposed on vehicular traffic have also prevented us from sending fish to other places. So, most of the fishermen have stopped fishing. Now, we are facing difficulties to meet our daily expenses,” said Ishwar Rao, a fisherman of Penthakata.

Chandrasekhar Reddy, another fisherman of the locality, claimed that restrictions on vehicular traffic have also caused shortage of ice to preserve the fish. “There is no demand for fish in the market. We are in a difficult situation. We urge the state government to provide financial assistance to the fishermen of Penthakata,” Reddy said.

It is worth mentioning here that cyclonic storm Fani that made a landfall on Odisha coast May 3 had damaged majority of fishing boats at Penthakata. Besides, hundreds of houses had been destroyed by the storm. “The cyclonic storm had given a severe blow to us. We struggled hard to manage the situation. Now, the coronavirus scare has taken away our livelihood,” Reddy added.

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