The Tamil Nadu Government is awaiting clearance from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to salvage 36 trawlers impounded by the Sri Lankan Navy in March 2015 and ordered to be released by the Government of the island nation last month, The Hindu newspaper reported.
After the Sri Lankan Government ordered the release of 42 boats – 36 belonging to Tamil Nadu fishermen and six to Karaikal fishermen – a seven-member team, led by G. S. Sameeran, Additional Director of Fisheries, inspected the condition of the trawlers from August 17 to 20 and decided to salvage them.
Based on the report submitted by the team, the State government prepared a list of salvage team members to bring back 36 boats – 11 belonging to Rameswaram fishermen, 24 to Nagapattinam fishermen and one owned by Pudukottai fishermen.
Immediately, the Fisheries department prepared a list of 36 boats, 242 fishermen and technical persons to tow the boats back to shore and sent the proposal to the MEA, official sources said.
The operation should have begun on September 10 but was delayed for want of clearance, the sources said. The State government had also sanctioned about Rs. 20 lakh for salvage operation – towards fuel and repair costs and ration for the salvage team members.
A sum of Rs. 15,000 had been offered for each mechanised boat and Rs. 10,000 for each country boat for repair work, they said.
The first batch of 15 boats, 93 fishermen and technical persons would leave immediately after getting clearance from the MEA.
The second batch of 21 boats, 149 fishermen and technicians would leave after three days, they said.
A three-member official team, led by the Deputy Director of Fisheries, would accompany them.
Indian Coast Guard (ICG) would escort the teams up to International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and hand them over to the Sri Lankan Navy to be escorted to the ports.
The ICG had been asked to be in a state of readiness, they said. The Puducherry government would send a separate team to salvage the six boats from the Union Territory, the sources added. The boats have been berthed in Kankesanthurai, Karainagar, Mannar and Trincomallee in northern Sri Lanka and Puthalam in the west. (Colombo Gazette)