Subsidised kerosene yet to reach fishermen

Inability to purchase kerosene, has made fishermen unemployed

Though it has been almost a month since the ban on fishing was lifted, the traditional fishermen in the coastal districts have not yet been able to pick up the speed in fishing activities. Despite the government ordering for the allocation of subsidised kerosene to fishermen last week, the much needed kerosene to run the traditional boat engines are yet to reach the fishermen.

The traditional fishermen are a worried lot now, for their precious first month after the lift of ban on fishing, which is normally a month that gets them good fish catch, has gone waste. Unavailability of subsidised kerosene and unaffordability to purchase kerosene in the open market, has made fishermen unemployed. The government began supplying subsidised kerosene to fishermen in an attempt to encourage traditional boat fishing years ago. Any country boat fisherman who has registered with the fisheries department and produces the registration certificate to the food and civil supplies department is eligible to get subsidised kerosene upto 200 litres per month.

Change in policy

The subsidised kerosene is supplied to fishermen from September 1 to May end, by excluding three off-season months. However, this year the food and civil supplies department could not distribute kerosene to fishermen on time, apparently due to the change in policy of the department which streamlined the kerosene distribution under PDS by making five litres of kerosene common for non-LPG consumers across the State. Earlier, each cardholder in Bangalore city used to get seven litres of kerosene per month, six litres in corporation limits, five litres in towns and three litres in rural areas.

Of the 43,000 kilo litres of kerosene that Karnataka receives from three oil companies every month, 1,000 kilo litres of kerosene is the requirement of fishermen in three coastal districts. The department’s plan to help the poor BPL card holders in villages by increasing the quantity by two litres per family, became a bane to fishermen, due to the shortage of kerosene procurement.

Pouring out the grievance, Ramesh Hosabettu, a fisherman from Mangalore, said that fishermen get good catch in September, October and November. But, this season, traditional fishermen could not venture into the deep sea for fishing due to the unavailibity of kerosene. “Though I went for fishing for a few days near the coast using the kerosene which was remaining from last year’s stock, it is nowhere enough. I have lost my business of precious one month and my bank loans are increasing everyday,” he said.

Karnataka Karavali Nadadoni Meenugarara Sangha President Sharath Guddekopla said that nearly 6,000 traditional fishermen in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada districts are affected due to the delay in supply of kerosene. “Fishermen have registered their engines with fisheries department and officials from food and civil supplies department have completed the inspection process. Now all we are waiting for is kerosene. The State government which has promised of providing 400 litres of subsidised kerosene to each fisherman, in the budget, has failed to supply even 150 litres of kerosene to us, which makes us wonder how the promise made in the budget will be ever met,” he asked.

Reacting to the situation, Food and Civil Supplies Department Commissioner Harsh Gupta said that the department is working on logistics with oil companies. Kerosene will be supplied to fishermen with in a few days. On asked about how the demand will be met in the days to come, he said the department may have to make a few policy changes.
According to sources, the food and civil supplies department had also earlier proposed the fisheries department to provide open market kerosene to fishermen at subsidised rates or to replace kerosene with LPG kits.

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