Push Sri Lanka Not to Arrest Fisherfolk

CHENNAI: Bringing to the notice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi yet another incident of arrest of Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Lankan Navy, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday urged him to take immediate steps to release the 16 fishermen and their boats.  She also urged the PM to initiate proactive measures that would bring about a permanent solution to the sensitive issue affecting the livelihood of thousands of fishermen in Tamil Nadu.

“Till a comprehensive solution to this vexatious issue is found, I request you to appropriately convey to the Lankan authorities to instruct their Navy to refrain from apprehending our fishermen and impounding their fishing boats,” the Chief Minister said in her letter to the PM. She also said that there was high expectation in Tamil Nadu that the government headed by him at the Centre would act decisively on this very sensitive issue, which involved the livelihood of lakhs of poor fishermen in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu.

angry-jayalalithaThe Chief Minister said, understanding the plight of Tamil Nadu fishermen, her government had been implementing various innovative schemes to build up their capacity to venture deeper into Indian Exclusive Economic Zone for fishing.

Jayalalithaa recalled that she had recently launched a landmark scheme of providing Rs 30 lakh subsidy assistance to 580 fishermen families for building 171 new Deep Sea Fishing Boats, the first of its kind in the country and a sum of  Rs 51.3 crore had been sanctioned for the scheme.

The Chief Minister also recalled that she had sought an assistance of Rs 1,520 crore as a comprehensive financial package from the Centre for diversification of fishing into India’s EEZ and to relieve pressure on the Palk Bay. “I request you to direct the Ministry of Agriculture to expeditiously consider and approve this  proposal,” she added.

The Chief Minister requested the Prime Minister to direct the Ministry of External Affairs to take up the matter with the Sri Lankan authorities urgently and secure the immediate release of the 16 fishermen and 26 fishing boats in Lanka’s custody, at the earliest.