Fishers demand increase in diesel subsidy

Citing escalation in fuel prices over the last few months, fishers have urged the Central and State Governments to increase subsidy for diesel.

Opposing the fuel price hike, fishers in delta region joined their counterparts elsewhere in the country to hold protests recently. Besides Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur and Thanjavur districts in delta region, protests coordinated by the National Fishworkers Forum were also held in Chennai, Villupuram, Cuddalore, Karaikal, Ramanathapuram, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari districts.

Questioning the rationale behind the hike, the forum’s national vice-president, R.V. Kumaravelu, said the hike was akin to rubbing salt on the wound.

Notwithstanding the economic impact of the lockdown, the Tamil Nadu government hiked the State VAT on diesel. It was immediately followed by a sharp hike in central excise on diesel by the Central government despite a drop in prices of crude oil globally. The hikes led to oil companies increasing their consumer prices by ₹5.23 per litre. Despite huge hikes at both State and Central levels, there was no change in subsidies for fishworkers, Mr. Kumaravelu said.

The incomes of fishworkers collapsed during the lockdown, and fishers were struggling to resume their professional activity for the new season.

The fuel price hike also came at a time when the whole sector as well as the identity of fishworkers in India was being threatened with the National Fisheries Policy 2020, which was released without any consultation or intimation, he said.

The Central and State governments earned almost ₹53 for every litre of diesel. At present, Tamil Nadu only subsidised the State VAT for fishers, but had not ameliorated the impact caused by the hike in central excise.

Marine fisheries provided direct employment to over one crore people and over four crore were employed in allied sectors. The Central and State governments could ill-afford to ignore the demands of fishers, Mr. Kumaravelu added.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 2:47:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/fishers-demand-increase-in-diesel-subsidy/article32215293.ece

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