Udupi, Aug 6,2016: News indicates, Ice Plant and Cold Storage Units Owners’ Association of coastal districts has taken a decision to hike the price of ice as it has not been hiked in the last two years. The coastal belt has a total of 196 cold stage units. Among them, 79 units are in Dakshina Kannada, 70 are in Udupi and 47 are in Uttara Kannada districts. The increase in the price of ice blocks has come as a surprise to fisherfolk who ventured into the sea on August 1 following the onset of the new season.
Association’s general secretary Uday Kumar told media the price of the raw materials required for manufacturing the ice has gone up and they have no other option other than increasing the price of the ice blocks.
He said the ammonia gas cylinder used to manufacture ice costs Rs 4,000 now as against the earlier price of Rs 2,000.The price of salt imported from Tamil Nadu is Rs 2.50 per kg at present. Earlier it was Re 1. The power tariff has also increased. For instance, the hike for one unit power was 20 paisa in 2014-15. It was increased to 30 paisa in 2015-16, he explained.
Kumar said the expenditure is too high despite the government support in the form of subsidy for the expenses incurred due to the use of electricity. "The commercial price for one unit power is Rs 6.15 and the government subsidy per unit is Rs 1.50 which is insufficient when it comes to the annual turnover of the investment. We have to pay the salary for a laborer up to Rs 10,000 per month. It was somewhere around Rs 7,000 earlier," he said.
He said the current price for one huge block of ice is Rs 180 (earlier 150), the medium sized ice block costs Rs 120 (Rs 100 earlier) and the small block costs Rs 60 (Rs 50 earlier).
Kumar said appeal has been made to the district in-charge minister to consider power tariff offered to ice plants in the neighbouring states like Goa and Kerala and adjust the tariff here. The power price per unit in Goa is Rs 3.85 while it is Rs 4.50 n Kerala. Hence the price of ice in these two states is much less when compared to the price of the ice blocks in Karnataka, he added.
He said, "It is unfair if the customers want to buy ice blocks for a lesser price. We are not offered any concession or incentives unlike the neighbouring states. The manufacturing of the ice blocks and the expenses incurred has direct links with the fishing. If the fishing activity is stopped, the industry remains dysfunctional. But the power will be kept functioning to stop the melting of the ice prepared earlier."
Kumar said, "Though we do not get customers every day, our business investment remains constant."
He also spoke about water shortage in summer. "We have to set aside extra amount for proper water supply to the plants. There are many problems. But there is no adequate support from the government except the minimal subsidy, he poured out woes.
Ramesh Suvarna, who works in the deep sea fishing trawlers, said the expense for the fishing trade would be too much in the current season due to the hike in diesel price.
Suvarna said the price of one litre diesel is Rs 56 as compared to the last year’s price of Rs 44.
Above this, the hike in ice block price would also have an impact on the trade. In all, the business would be a huge challenge, he maintained.