Leaders of different trade unions in the fisheries sector staged a demonstration in front of the office of the Deputy Director of Fisheries here on Monday protesting the government’s plans to directly transfer diesel subsidy to the accounts of mechanised boat owners.
Out of the 924 trawl and purse seine boats registered, 780 are eligible to get subsidy. The government has been waiving off sales tax of about Rs. 7 per litre of diesel sold to them. At present this concession is offered at the sales point. Under the new scheme, the fishermen will have to make the full payment and wait for reimbursement of the subsidy.
The State government has proposed to transfer an amount equal to the average subsidy obtained in the month of March in advance immediately after the boats register the bank account number of owners and subsequently pay soon after each purchase of diesel. The government, which has earmarked Rs. 105 crore in the recent budget for this, has already released Rs. 10.6 crore for the payment of subsidy.
Trawl Boat Fishermen’s Association president Nitin Kumar said the fear of the fishermen was that the government may withdraw the scheme suddenly citing lack of funds as it involved actual transfer of funds unlike the erstwhile scheme where the fishermen could purchase diesel for a lesser price.
The government could also postpone payment under the same pretext. Under the present system, the fishermen would know about any change in subsidy immediately and could launch a protest. Under the new system, the State government could go back on the promise easily.
Also, the fishermen who had more than one boat in a family were likely to be denied subsidy for additional fishing gears, he said. There were about 200 such families.
Deputy Director M.D. Prasad, who maintained the scheme was meant to stop pilferage, said the guidelines were awaited and it was so far not clear whether the subsidy could be extended to additional boats or not. He said the boat owners were not registering their account numbers at his office and hence the scheme had not taken off yet.
Mangaluru has 924 registered motorised mechanical boats, Malpe and Gangolli 1,710
Only 780 boats in Mangaluru and 1,517 in Udupi district eligible for subsidy
In 2014-15, 52,708 kl of diesel was given to Mangaluru and 83,740 kl in Udupi district
Orders placed for supply of subsidy-less diesel from Oil companies effective from April 1
Scheme fails to take off as boat owners refuse to provide bank accounts