Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedhi, an independent fishers’ union representing traditional fishers, has appealed to the State government to intervene for help in the wake of a steep rise in the price of kerosene. The union claimed that the price of kerosene had increased by ₹18.60 per litre over the recent days. The price of the fuel, which ruled around ₹96 per litre in January, had gone up to over ₹123 per litre now.
The fishers said they had been supported by a subsidy offered by the apex fisheries cooperative Matsyafed through the Public Distribution System. However, the subsidy had not been paid for nearly two months.
The impact of climate change and a fish drought had landed traditional fishers in a serious financial trouble. The hike in the fuel price would further sink them into indebtedness, said convenor of the fishers forum Charles George. The summer season forces fishers to negotiate long distances to get remunerative catch and the fuel price hike was a big setback, he said.
Subsidised kerosene is supplied to traditional boats at the rate of 129 litres per month for boat engines of 9.9 HP and 129 litres per month for boat engines of 20 HP or more. However, the supply is limited and not enough to meet even a day’s requirement for fishing expeditions, the fishers’ union said. As a result, the fishers were now forced to procure the fuel at ₹104 per litre from the open market.