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Either hike ex-gratia to Rs 5K pm or give OTS of Rs 5 L per beneficiary: Seafarers

Story: the | goan | 12th July 2018, 02:51 Hrs

MARGAO

Seafarers under the banner of Goan Seamen Association of India (GSAI) staged a day-long peaceful dharna at the historic Lohia Maidan on Wednesday where they made a plea to the Seafarer’s Welfare Fund Society (SWFS) and NUSI to reconsider the decision to stop the payment of ex-gratia monetary relief of Rs 200 to the retired seamen and widows.   

Congress leaders led by Leader of the Opposition, Babu Kavlekar, MLAs Reginaldo Lourenco, Wilfred D’Sa and Clafacio Dias also joined the dharna to express their solidarity with the seafarers.

Armed with placards and banners, the seafarers resorted to the day-long dharna days after SWFS dispatched letters to the beneficiaries of the ex-gratia monetary relief, including retired seafarers and widows, disclosing its plan to close the scheme from July 1 with an offer to pay a one-time settlement of Rs 12,500.   

GSAI, which has taken up cudgels for the retired seafarers and widows of seamen, has rejected the SWFS decision and has blamed NUSI for not protecting the interests of the seafarers. GSAI spokesman Dixon Vaz told the media at the Lohia Maidan that the seafarers had no option but to resort to the peaceful dharna. “The ex-gratia relief is the hard-earned money of the seafarers and the contributions made by the shipping companies. NUSI owes an explanation to the seafarers why the scheme is being closed down when it has in its kitty thousands of crores of rupees,” Dixon said.   

Directing his tirade at the NUSI management, Dixon warned the former will not be able to get away with the decision to stop the relief. “Either NUSI or SWFS should increase the ex-gratia relief to Rs 5000 per month or close the scheme with a one-time settlement of Rs five lakh per beneficiary, or the seafarers will shut down the NUSI Maritime Academy within three months,” he warned.   

The GSAI spokesman further warned that NUSI should hand over the hospital land to the Sociedade de Cuncolim so that the land can be utilized to provide medical benefits to the seafarers.   

The Congress MLAs promised to raise a calling attention motion in the ensuing session of the House to draw attention of the government to the plight of the seafarers. While Reginaldo said that NUSI has no right to stop the ex-gratia relief scheme, Cuncolim MLA Clafacio said he would find out why the NUSI hospital has been shut down and explore the possibility of getting the land back to the people.   

Leader of the Opposition Babu Kavlekar told the media that the Congress will not only raise the calling attention motion, but would demand a hike in the Goa government’s pension to the seafarers from the existing Rs 2500 to Rs 5000 as per the resolution adopted by the House in the previous session. 

Meanwhile, GSAI president Franklin D’Costa said a delegation of GSAI also called on TCP Minister Vijay Sardessai, who assured to look into the matter and talk to the Chief Minister.

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