By BS Reporter
The Kerala government has demanded allotment of more kerosene to the state as it is facing acute shortage, especially in the fisheries sector which is the backbone of the coastal economy.
A memorandum in this regard was submitted to the Prime Minister on Tuesday by fisheries minister K Babu.
Kerala’s fisheries sector needs at least 150,000 litre kerosene annually, but the actual allotment is below 40 per cent. Fuel expense constitutes as high as 80 per cent of the cost of fishing. The recent increase in fuel prices has made fishing an unviable economic activity, it said. A country boat requires 30 litre kerosene daily and around 25,000 such boats operate in Kerala requiring 187,500 litre annually. Fishermen have to buy kerosene at much higher prices -- Rs 60-70 a litre - from the grey market, while the PDS rate is Rs 14 only.
The government has also urged the Centre to either have a separate quota of kerosene at PDS rate or a special package of subsidy-linked scheme for the fishing sector.
Kerala with a long coastal line of 590 km has fishing as a major economic activity. The state has 1.1 million fishermen. The total fish landings here stands at around 670,000 tonnes and the state is ranked first in the marine fish landings in the country.
The sector contributes about 1 per cent to the GDP of the state while marine export earnings account for Rs 1,850 crore per annum — 18 per cent of the total export of marine products. There are around 240,000 active fishermen in the state and most of them belong to the traditional sector and use out board motor.
The motorisation of the sector started in the early 1980s and the number of crafts using out board motors has reached 25,000 recently. All these out board motors are operated using standard kerosene oil as fuel.