VISAKHAPATNAM: There is more than what meets the eye behind the scarcity of diesel in the fishing harbour, notwithstanding the official reason that it has been triggered by the two-day truckers’ strike.
Three weeks after they ended the annual ritual of 62-day layoff, mechanized boat operators are still following diesel rationing imposed by their associations.
Though diesel is available outside the harbour, what prevents them from buying there is the fact that it will deprive them of subsidy. Subsidy is given through the A. P. Fisheries Central Cooperative Federation for purchase of up to 3,000 litres for each boat a month if it is procured at HPCL or IOC bunkering at the harbour.
Oil firms’ strategy
Sources told The Hindu that the oil companies were keen on creating an artificial demand and later forcing the customers to buy premium variants. The boats consume high flash high speed diesel, which is in short supply. If they buy diesel outside the harbour, it will cost Rs.37.33 a litre at IOC and Rs.37.40 at HPCL bunks – a difference of 10 to 12 paise a litre in addition to the extra expenditure on transport.
Over the past ten days, the daily supply is only 30 to 40 kilolitres. As part of the rationing, the AP Mechanised Boat Operators Welfare Association (APMBOA) and Visakha Dolphin Operators’ Welfare Association (VDBOWA) have introduced a quota system by supplying 500 litres for each boat.
Fisheries Department Joint Director Sivarama Reddy, in response to representations submitted by the two associations, promised to sort out the matter by speaking to the oil companies.
“The situation is very bad. IOC has a stock of 30 kl today whereas there is nothing available for bunkering at HPCL outlet,” said Ch. Satyanarayana Murthy of VDBOWA.
He said there was a deliberate bid to push up sale of expensive diesel variants. P.C. Appa Rao of APMBOA shared this view. A boat needs 2,800 litres costing nearly Rs.1 lakh to undertake fishing in Paradip, Puri and Konark coasts of Orissa, a voyage that lasts 10 to 12 days.
Of the 350 boats that operate from the Vizag coast, only a few are able to venture far into the sea because of diesel scarcity, while others settle for fishing in nearby Bhimli, Pudimadaka and Kalingapatnam.