Indian officials say 31 boats held in Sri Lanka can be salvaged

A seven-member team, led by G S Sameeran, Additional Director of Fisheries, which inspected 42 trawlers impounded by Sri Lankan Navy in March 2015 and ordered to be released by the Government of the island nation, has said 31 boats could be salvaged after repair work, The Hindu newspaper reported.

The team, which returned to India on Sunday evening after assessing the condition of the boats berthed in Kankesanthurai, Karainagar, Mannar and Trincomallee in northern Sri Lanka and Puthalam in the west from August 17 to 20, said even the 31 boats could only be towed back in view of the bad condition of their engines.

After the team submitted a report to the government in a couple of days, salvage operation would begin in the first week of September, official sources said.

Of the 42 trawlers impounded in Sri Lanka, 36 belonged to Tamil Nadu fishermen and six to fishermen from Karaikal in the Union Territory of Puducherry. Of the 36 trawlers owned by fishermen of Rameswaram (11), Nagapattinam (24) and Pudukottai (1), 27 could be salvaged after repair, while nine have to be disposed of as scrap in Sri Lanka itself, sources in the team said.

Pictures of the extensively damaged trawlers were shown to the owners and they would be scrapped in consultation with them, they said. Fishermen in the salvage team would be accompanied by carpenters and mechanics to carry out necessary repair work. The State government would bear the cost of fuel and minor repair work.

Four of the six boats belonging to Karaikal fishermen could be salvaged after repair and it would be done by a separate team. Two of their boats had to be condemned, the sources said.

After the release of trawlers, 130 boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen would still be in the custody of Sri Lankan Government. Fishermen who were part of the inspection team urged the Central and State Governments to secure the release of all the boats at the earliest.

Most of the boats, which were confiscated in the later part of 2015 and early 2016, had suffered extensive damage. Only about 50 trawlers, which were impounded recently, were in good condition, they said. (Colombo Gazette)


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