Fishermen’s wait for subsidised kerosene continues

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Even after a wait of over six months and frequent protests, the government is yet to consider fishermen’s plea to resume the supply of kerosene at subsidised rate.

Suspected sale of kerosene in the black market is in full swing on the coastal belt targeting outboard engine operators who have no other means to survive.

In Kozhikode district alone, there are over 3,000 fishing boats fitted with outboard engines. All of them are heavily dependent on private kerosene distributors who charge exorbitant rates. The situation has remained unchanged for over six months with no intervention by the authorities.

“The quality of stock available with private suppliers is very poor, and we suspect rampant adulteration. Such low-quality kerosene will damage outboard engines,” said V.C. Rasheed, a fisherman from Beypore. Boat operators have no option but to buy kerosene at ₹140 a litre without any subsidy from private suppliers, he added.

According to fishermen, a subsidy of ₹25 was available for a litre of kerosene. Though it was not enough, its cancellation hit fishermen badly, they said. Interestingly, States such as Tamil Nadu have been making interventions to ensure steady availability of good-quality stock at an affordable price.

Meanwhile, some fishermen’s organisations have called upon members to prepare for a State-level protest. They have held meetings at various harbours to express solidarity with boat owners and take up the matter with the government in a more persuasive way.

“The operational cost of boats, apart from the steep decline in daily catch, is dragging the fishing industry to a total loss these days. The only way out is to maintain possible government assistance, besides considering new projects for their welfare,” said K. Rajan, a former functionary of a State-level fishermen’s welfare committee. He added that the lack of coordination among fishermen’s organisations had resulted in the Central and State governments cold-shouldering various welfare initiatives.

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