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Gilgit-Baltistan fish farmers struggle as Pak govt holds relief package after flood

Gilgit-Baltistan fishermen struggles as government holds relief package after flood (Photo: ANI)

Several fish farmers in Gilgit Baltistan suffered massive financial losses during the floods that hit in 2022.

The government’s assurance of a relief package for those who suffered livelihood losses remains unfulfilled, leaving fish farmers in a prolonged state of hardship as they await recovery.

Iqbal Hussain a victim who had lost a major part of his earnings at that time and still awaits his part of the relief package which does not seem coming anytime soon.

Hussain said, “The flood of 2022 ruined most of our farms. Several other areas like Ishkoman, Sherqilla, and Shingun had suffered the same fate. The government had surveyed at that time and had done lots of paperwork but nothing has been done to date.”

Further, he stated, “Several of our fishermen brothers are worried and struggle, for their livelihood, they want to start their lives again but they are now left with nothing. Banks are also no hope to us, they offer us loans but at high rates of around 28 to 30 per cent per annum. And that is unaffordable for us, we cannot give around one-third of our hard-earned money and then hope to survive.”

“Now the only option we have is to urge the government to clear our relief packages so that we can start our business again. Because not only we but several other people who are dependent upon us suffer because of our helplessness. Our employees and the businesses that run on fish like restaurants and food outlets,” he added.

Hussain while mentioning the support that the government gives to the fishermen stated that the government had announced constructing a chain of cold stores, in cities like Islamabad, and Gilgit but that also has not been fulfilled.

Furthermore, no relaxation has been given on feeds for fish. There were schemes in place, that provided these fishermen with two bags of feed but those also have been revoked.

“Long back the government had ordered an imported feed for us fishermen, however, which was a straight boost to our businesses, which they had promised to give us again but there is no response regarding that also” he stated.

Hussain emphasised the urgency of receiving assistance, stating that this period is critical for their struggling businesses.

“This is the most crucial time if they wish to give us feeds, as our businesses are struggling. And have no hope of reviving it, but if they had given us some support our business would have flourished again,” said Hussain.