KOCHI: While the automobile industry in the country is switching to Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) emission standards, fishing vessels propelled by sub-standard Chinese engines continue to pollute the environment and damage the marine eco-system.
According to office-bearers of the Kerala Boat Operators’ Association, the use of substandard engines, which emit unfiltered smoke containing harmful chemicals, has been causing environmental pollution.
“Seagoing vessels are classified into six categories (Tier-I to VI) based on the pollution caused by their engines. Almost all the fishing boats operating in the country come in the Tier-I category. There are only a few boats that work on Tier-III and Tier-IV engines.
It is the responsibility of state governments to ensure engines that comply with the norms are used in fishing boats. Registered fishing boats emit filtered smoke only,” said Association general secretary Joseph Xavier Kalappurakkal.
“While there is no mechanism to check the specifications of engines imported from China, it is estimated around 5,000 fishing vessels fitted with Chinese engines are plying in maritime states of India. Last year, around 1,000 engines were imported to Kerala,” he said.
The Association is all set to submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister, the Union Agriculture Minister, Commerce Minister and the State Fisheries Department.
Boat owners are demanding subsidy to procure engines compliant with emission norms. Fishermen are attracted to Chinese engines due to their low price. A Chinese engine non-compliant with the Indian pollution standards costs around `25 lakh, while one that is complaint with the norms costs about `40 lakh.
Diesel consumption by seagoing fishing boats is 300-400 litres per day. The smoke is filtered using a solvent that costs `90 per litre.