Fishermen refuse to call off strike despite diesel price hike reduction

Fishermen in the city are not ready to call off their strike in spite of the petroleum minister decreasing the diesel price hike from Rs 11.62 to Rs 4.62 per litre. They feel they should not pay more because they are bulk buyers. This, in turn, has led to a shortage of supply of fish in markets since the past three weeks.

A group of fishermen met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily on Wednesday in New Delhi, where they requested that diesel be sold to them at regular consumer rates. Previously, fishermen bought diesel at Rs 43.62 per litre (cost after deduction of government subsidy of Rs 9). Now they will have to pay Rs 53 (Rs 4.62 more than the market rate) to buy diesel and later get the subsidy of Rs 9 (which will amount to Rs 47.62).

MiD DAY had earlier reported how, if the strike is not called off, local vendors may run out of supplies soon. Over the past few days, fishermen have been steering clear of the seas due to the unfair hike in diesel prices for commercial consumers —this, after being already discouraged by the dwindling catch.

The ongoing strike affects about eight lakh families in the city. About 11,000 mechanised boats run on diesel in Maharashtra, which are not venturing in the sea. Exports worth Rs two crore have been affected.

Damodar Tandel, president of the Akhil Maharashtra Macchimaar Kruti Samiti, said, “The government needs to provide concession or give us the diesel at market rate so we can get our subsidies like before.”

Vijay Worlikar, Vice President of the National Association of Fishermen and Maharashtra Koli Mahasangh, said, “We will go back to the sea only when we are not considered bulk buyers and don’t have to pay anything beyond the market rate.” 

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