Trawlers off Kochi sell diesel to LTTE agents
As the war bet-ween the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Army is escalating,
reports have surfaced about fishing trawlers off Kochi coast making the
best out of the war by selling diesel to the LTTE agents at the mid sea
for exorbitant rates.
With the war assuming high proportions, the LTTE has been left with
no other choice but to aggressively scout for fuel to power their
defence and supply vehicles. An official of the coastal base station in
Kochi, which undertakes patrolling up to 12 nautical miles off coast,
said they had come across fishing boats fitted with additional overhead
tanks filled with diesel.
The overhead tanks, mainly used to store fresh water, had concealed
compartments to carry additional quantity of diesel. Above all, the
boats fill their tanks beyond the required capacity for the journey. As
of now, there is no legal framework to restrict the boats from carrying
additional quantity of diesel, the official said.
He said though the patrolling team had impounded various boats, they
get away saying that they required more fuel to be in sea for more
number of days. A mechanism should be in place to check the quantity of
diesel consumed by the boats, otherwise they will continue to illegally
sell the government-subsidised diesel to third parties, he said adding
that the majority of the crew in the fishing boats were from Tamil Nadu.
Confirming that there were certain reports of diesel pilferage at mid
sea by the fishermen to the LTTE, an official of the Fisheries
Enforcement Department said their duty was very much confined to
checking the registration of the trawlers.
Our job is to assist the Fisheries Department and make sure that the
trawlers adhere to rules and regulations laid down by the Fisheries
Department, he added. Fisheries Department Deputy Director K L
Raveendran said the Government provided a subsidy of Rs 1.50 per litre
for diesel for the fishing boats and it was limited to a maximum of Rs
1,500 per month for a trawler.