KOCHI: The traditional fishermen community in the state has expressed concern over the drive launched by the fisheries department for verification of outboard engines used by country craft involved in marine fishing. According to fishermen leaders, the department has announced that only the permits of engines purchased within 10 years will be renewed. This will lead to denial of permit to thousands of fishing craft, said Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi state president Charles George.
The joint inspection of fishing crafts will be held on January 16 and the last day for submitting applications was on Friday. The last inspection was held in 2015. Traditional fishermen receive kerosene at subsidised rate from civil supplies department and from Matsyafed. While the subsidy for kerosene purchased from Matsyafed will be credited only six months later, the civil supplies department provides spot subsidy. A fishing craft will get 129 litres of kerosene a month from the department.
“The government should allow us to use fishing boat engine for 15 years. The engine of a country craft costs Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh according to engine power and setting a deadline on its use will add to our burden. The verification is held only once in three years and only boats that are registered during the verification drive are eligible for kerosene permit,” said National Fishworkers Forum treasurer Jackson Pollayil.
Denying the allegations, the fisheries minister’s office said restrictions have been imposed to weed out illegal beneficiaries. “Though we provided 15,000 permits in 2015, only 10,000 beneficiaries used it. People who don’t own country craft are illegally claiming permit and selling the subsidised kerosene at a higher rate.
Though the 10-year cap has been fixed for providing kerosene subsidy there is no restriction on its use. While the market rate of kerosene is Rs 96 per litre, we are providing a subsidy of Rs 25 per litre. The government is trying to increase the kerosene quota from Centre and has recently got an allocation of 1,435 kilo litres,” said an officer.