The intermittent hike in kerosene prices has put Kerala’s traditional fisherfolk in a crisis. According to them, the hike in fuel prices which are ruling at ₹123 per litre from the ₹96 per litre in January, has forced them to dole out more for their daily fishing activities.

Charles George, President of the Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi (TUCI), said the unavailability of fish in the coastal waters due to sea drought, especially during between January to May has prompted traditional fishermen to venture into deep seas for their catch and it requires more fuel for their daily operations.

The subsidy for kerosene through PDS and the State government agency Matsyafed has so far helped them to a certain extent from the ill effects of steep hike of kerosene prices. But the government has stopped paying subsidies for kerosene in the last one and a half month, he said.

At present, fishing boats with 9 HP are getting 129 litres of kerosene on a monthly basis, while 20 HP boats with 179 litres. This is insufficient and will not last for a day’s operations, he said, adding that the frequent rise in kerosene prices and its non-availability coupled with fish scarcity reportedly due to climate change issues has put the fishing community in a mess.

Qouta for fishing sector

The association has sought urgent intervention of the government to retain the kerosene subsidy and ensure its uninterrupted availability by fixing a quota for the fishing sector.Matsyafed should be entrusted as the wholesale dealer to supply kerosene to the fishing sector.

He said the Kerala Government in the last year’s budget had allocated ₹60 crore to provide kerosene to the fishing community at ₹25 per litre. However, the latest budget has not considered the allocation made last year.

The association has threatened to go on an indefinite agitation across coastal areas until their demands are met.