With the Assembly elections at their doorstep, political parties in Gujarat are busy making promises and doling out sops. Now, the ruling BJP has increased the quota of diesel and kerosene for fishermen. The move comes amidst increasing concern in the party that the community, which has a prominent presence in at least nine constituencies in the state, is drifting away from the BJP.
With a 1,600-km coast, Gujarat is the leading marine fish producing state in the country, contributing 7.01% of the national production as of 2019-20. There are around 29,000 registered fishing boats in the state, of which around 20,000 are active. The fishing industry employs around 1.5 crore people directly and indirectly.
Fishermen can now buy subsidised diesel from all government-recognised petrol pumps, instead of the earlier norm of purchasing it only from petrol pumps run by the Gujarat Fisheries Central Cooperative Association or its associate cooperative societies.
The state government gives a subsidy to fishermen in the form of value-added tax rebate, with an upper limit of Rs 15 per litre of diesel. In case of kerosene, the per litre subsidy has been increased from Rs 25 to Rs 50 for on-board motor boats. The government also announced that boats run by petrol-fired on-board motors would also be covered under the kerosene subsidy scheme.
Chuni Gohel, a leader of the fishermen community and a former BJP MP in Rajya Sabha, was quoted as saying: “These are very good announcements. Fishermen had started drifting away from the BJP due to their long pending demands and had started thinking they would never get their due from the party.”