The CAA is thought to be facing big staff cutbacks. Of the seven members on board the CAA, only the assistant director and technical assistant are in place, an official told TheNewIndianExpress on condition of anonymity.
The situation was slightly better till early last year when there were three officials. Then, the director’s post also fell vacant.
“The State Fisheries Board approves licences for farms and sends them to CAA. But the CAA has not been able to issue the licences to the farmers,” the source added.
This is affecting shrimp farmers who have started the shrimp farms without licences. According to the Coastal Aquaculture Authority (CAA) Act, 2005, the offence attracts a fine of '1 lakh or imprisonment of three years or both. It is believed that about 60 per cent of shrimp farms in the State are unregistered.
“It’s been two years since I have applied for a licence to get my farm registered, and I’m still waiting,” said Rajendran of Pattukottai, showing documents to prove his charge.
“When I went to the CAA for the third time, I was told that my application was lost. Then I reapplied but the wait has not ended.”
“I don’t have a licence but I’m given the seeds by the hatcheries, which don’t insist on the farm having a licence. The Marine Products Exports Development Authority (MPEDA) also supports me with supplements. After I’m done farming, the produce is taken for export and I get my income. But after all this, they come for inspection and destroy my farm by putting bleach in it for not having a licence,” Mr Rajendran said.
“I’m tired of making representations everywhere, from the Collector and revenue department to the CAA. It’s been two and a half years,” said N Chellappa from Muthupettai in Tiruvarur district.
“In the absence of the director, there is no proper authority to control the affairs. Sometimes they register all the farms and hatcheries without even inspecting, but sometimes they register none,” said an official candidly.