After high diesel prices and low fish rates, Gujarat fishing season endstext_fields
The official end of the fishing season in Gujarat was on May 31 but locals say about 90% of the fishermen stopped going to the sea in February due to the high cost of diesel. Fisherfolk buy the fuel in bulk. When the price of subsidised diesel became the same as the retail price, many ended the fishing season.
On March 21, oil marketing companies hiked the price of diesel by Rs 25 for bulk consumers like railways and malls. When the price of diesel reached Rs 114.75 per litre, it made fishing operations unsustainable. Some boat owners kept fishing operations on till May 18. But the economic risk forced them to shut shop.
Mukesh Panjari, president of Porbandar Machhimar Boat Association (PMBA), told The Indian Express the communities in major fishing hubs of Porbandar, Veraval, Okha, Mangrol, and Jakhau are worried over the price of fuel increasing when the price of fish is falling. China is a big market for fish and the demand from the country has been decreasing due to the latest wave of Covid-19.
The Gujarat government allows Rs 15 per litre VAT (value-added tax) rebate on up to 24,000 litres of diesel per annum per fishing boat. However, the boat owner must buy fuel from one of the 18 pumps run by cooperative societies or the Gujarat Fisheries Central Cooperative Association (GFCCA) Limited. But the steep hike annulled the subsidy.
The absence of subsidy made diesel costlier by an average of Rs 14 at these pumps. After several appeals to Union Fisheries Minister Parshottam Rupala and Union Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, the price was decreased for fishermen. But it is still Rs 8 higher than the retail price. Such developments made the fisherfolk buy fuel from private pumps.