In order to address sanitation issues and minimize sea pollution levels, the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) has floated a project mandating the installation of bio-toilets onboard mechanized fishing boats.
However, the fishing community is skeptical about the success of the project as clarity eludes key aspects- mainly in context to facilities towards the on-land scientific disposal of the liquid sewage that will emanate from the digester tanks of the bio-toilets.
After conducting a survey to chalk out steps needed to be taken for maintaining on-board hygiene following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the fisheries department decided to install bio-toilets in mechanized fishing boats that use six or more high-powered cylinder engines.
The project was launched under the aegis of the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY)- a flagship scheme of the central government aimed at focused and sustainable development of the fisheries sector in all states and union territories across the country.
“The project looks good on paper, however, ground realities have not been taken into account it seems. A major challenge is the safe disposal of the accumulated liquid waste once the boat returns from its fishing voyage. Are local civic bodies including- municipal councils and corporations at respective landing points equipped to handle the liquid waste?" questioned Bernard D’mello who is the working president of the Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kruti Samithi.
The fisheries department claims to have launched several initiatives like messages on social media platforms and presentations on World Fisheries Day (21, November) to create appropriate awareness about the much needed bio-toilets for fishing vessels. The bio-toilet project which is a part of the Blue Revolution Scheme and Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Package offers a subsidy of Rs. 20,000 to boat owners ( Rs.30,000 in case the owner is a woman) for the installation of the tailor-made bio-toilet which is priced at Rs. 50,000. The quaint fishing villages including-Uttan, Pali and Chowk and Manori is home to around 750 mechanized fishing boats in the region.