Fisherfolk staged a protest march on Wednesday demanding the Central government roll back the recent hike in diesel prices.

The residents, belonging to Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur, also demanded that the State government increase the quantum of diesel provided at subsidised rates.

M.D. Dayalan of Indhiya Meenavar Sangam said that the Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) catamarans were being provided 300 litres of subsidised diesel a month and mechanised boats received 1,500 litres.

“This is hardly sufficient. FRP catamarans use about 10-15 litres while fishing near the shore and if they go deeper and stay for 18 hours, they require 35 litres,” he said.

The fisherfolk are demanding that FRP catamarans be provided 1,000 litres per month and mechanised boats 9,000 litres a month. For mechanised boats, the Karnataka government provides 9,000 litres of diesel at a subsidised rate.

Nanjil Ravi of Akila India Meenavar Sangam said that Tamil Nadu had around 25,000 FRP catamarans and 10,000 mechanised boats operating from nine coastal districts but was unable to be the leader in marine exports as the required facilities were not being provided.

“If facilities are provided for fishermen here, we can improve exports. Our fish is being sent to Kerala as we do not have proper processing facilities,” he said.

He also added that foreign fishing vessels that have permission to fish in Indian waters are given diesel without any taxes or duties. The fisherfolk, however, were not demanding such a subsidy, but only an increase in the quantum, he said.

They are currently being provided a subsidy of Rs. 7 per litre.

The fisherfolk belonging to the three districts also demanded a waiver of road tax from the subsidised diesel. When the protestors tried to march to the main gate of the Chennai Port Trust, police arrested around 130 people and later released them.

The fisherfolk did not venture out into the sea on Wednesday.

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