Seafarers, associated with Goa Seafarers Association of India (GSAI), on Wednesday, held a one-day protest at Lohia Maidan in Margao against a decision to stop the central government’s pension scheme.
They have demanded either an increase from Rs 200 to Rs 5,000 per month or a one-time settlement of Rs 5 lakh. A demand was also made for representatives of the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) to come to the state and hold a meeting with the association to discuss a host of issues.
The seafarers have sought that the central government’s monthly ex-gratia monitory assistance (MEMA) scheme should be increased from Rs 200 to Rs 5,000. The ministry of shipping had sent letters to beneficiaries that the scheme would be stopped and a one-time settlement of Rs 12,500 would be given. Seafarers, however, have said that if any settlement is to be given, the minimum amount should be Rs 5 lakh.
Speaking to media persons, GSAI spokesperson Dickson Vaz said apart from the MEMA scheme, the community is facing other issues as well. “Every month, ship owners deduct an amount from the seafarer’s salary towards schemes like pension. Another such scheme is that of PF. There are 3,000 Goans who have unclaimed provident fund wherein beneficiaries get between Rs 5 and Rs 6 lakh. NUSI has not informed beneficiaries of this and is instead choosing to remain quiet,” said Vaz.
Lending support to their cause, Congress leader Babu Kavlekar has said he would take up the issue at the forthcoming Assembly session. “We are against the decision to stop the scheme as many are dependent on it. On the first day of the Assembly session this month, I will bring a calling attention with signatures of all our 16 MLAs,” he said.
He also added that the issue of pension provided by the state would also be raised. “The state had passed a resolution to have a Rs 2,500 pension scheme for seafarers and till date, it has not been implemented,” said Kavlekar.