Tamil Nadu fuel crisis spells losses for fishermen, rice growers

August 19th, 2008 - 8:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Aug 19 (IANS) Tamil Nadu’s transporters, fishermen, cold storage operators and vegetable and food grain growers could lose at least Rs.250 million a day because of an acute diesel crisis triggered by an unending electricity shortage.While green and dry grocers said their cumulative losses would cross at least Rs.100 million, transporters pointed to bigger shortfalls in income.

Transporters from various parts of Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka told IANS they would wait for the shortage wave to ebb before sending goods to Chennai.

Tiruchirappalli-based transporter N.K.V. Srinivasan blamed the oil companies for the situation.

According to him, the demand for diesel has gone up by 40 percent as small industries and households have begun buying the fuel to run generators on account of the incessant power shortage. However, he said, the oil companies were refusing to meet this demand.

“Oil companies are citing losses, but we will be ruined because our clients produce perishables. We can reach Chennai, but since fuel isn’t available there, how will our vehicles return?” asked Srinivasan.

As a result, commodity prices too are rising. Wholesale prices at poultry farms in Namakkal - the biggest centre for the produce - went up beyond Rs.2 per egg Monday.

G.R. Veeranna, a truck driver from Karnataka, said he was worried about his pregnant wife back home in Bangalore, but didn’t know how would he return. “I have only 30 litres of diesel in my truck tank and don’t know if I can refill en route,” he said.

The condition of fishermen here and along the 600-km coastline is no better.

Vaseekaran, a fisherman near here, said he could not go fishing as the fuel tanks in his boat were dry.

“My family will starve, and my cousins in Cuddalore and Nagappattinam, stuck with catches worth nearly Rs.250,000, will go bankrupt as the fish is bound to rot on the shore because trucks are not available,” he said.

It’s the same scenario at the hill stations of Udhagamandalam, Kodaikanal, Valparai, Yercaud and Yelagiri - from where vegetables are supplied to Chennai.

Rice growers in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu who sell their produce in the cities have stayed back, stuck with piling stocks, as they are not sure how they will return to their villages.

Fuel station owners, however, do not wish to blame oil companies completely.

“We do not want to name any particular company,” said K. Sambashivam, a petrol vend owner here whose supply of diesel has run dry. “If they supply more fuel, they lose more. They are forced to initiate steps that are painful to the entire society.”

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