Special Correspondent

Usual quota to fishing sector to be continued

Increase in oil prices gave rise to fears

KOCHI: There is no move to cut oil supply to the fishing boats in the State, senior executives of the three oil companies have said.

“There was no move and there is no move (to cut oil supplies to the fishing sector),” a senior official of Indian Oil Corporation told The Hindu.

There has been an apprehension in the fishing industry, particularly mechanised boats and ‘valloms’ with inboard-engines, that there would be a cut of around 40 per cent in the diesel supplies to them. This reportedly was in view of the rise in oil prices and its stress on the public-sector oil companies.

There are 54 exclusive oil pumps in State which supply oil to the marine sector. Many of them had told fishing boat operators that there would be substantial cut in supply once the current monsoon fishing restrictions were lifted by the end of this month, Joseph Xavier Kalappurackal, leader of the mechanised boat owners, said. A cut in the fuel supply would hit hard the jobs of fish workers as well as marine exports, he pointed out.

Following the scare, the chairman of the MPEDA (Marine Products Exports Development Authority) on July 18 called a meeting of senior executives of the three oil companies and representatives of the fishing industry. On July 21, Fisheries Minister S. Sarma also called such a meeting to discuss the issue.

“We have assured the MPEDA chairman and the Minister that we have no plans as of now to cut fuel supplies to the marine sector,” a senior official of Hindustan Petroleum Ltd. told The Hindu. He said the usual quota with normal marginal increases would be continued to be supplied to the fishing sector.

Big mechanised boats that go on a long haul of up to one week usually refuel 2,000 to 3,000 litres of diesel at one go. Boats generally keep a buffer of up to 1,000 litres. “If this quantity is cut substantially, the boats will not be able to go far into the sea and will have to cut short their normal voyages,” Mr. Kalappurackal said.

The exclusive pumps supply to a few dozen boats regularly and in most cases the supply is on credit.