TN fishermen worried about delay in getting their boats back from Sri Lanka despite release order

Sri Lanka Navy arrests 73 Indian fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters

MADURAI: Though Sri Lanka ordered the release of 81 boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen on February 12, ahead of President Maithripala Sirisena visit to India, the inordinate delay in repatriating the boats has become a cause of concern for the fishers in the state.

The fisheries officials who left the country with power of attorney from fishermen on February 12 are yet to return. The fishermen are clueless why there is delay in getting their boats back.

“Ten days have passed since Sri Lankan courts released our boats, but we don’t know when we will get our boats back. Officials say some boats have been damaged and that is the reason for delay,” said P Muniasamy whose boat has been moored in Talaimannar since June last.

S Emerit, a fishermen leader in Rameswaram, said their representatives should have been included in the team that went to Sri Lanka.

“Only fishermen can assess the extent of damage to boats and the methods to salvage them with minimum cost. They could arrange a voyage for couple of fishermen and fishermen leaders to Sri Lanka to inspect these boats. As of now only officials are in Sri Lanka, and we are left to wonder what is happening there,” he said.

U Arulanandam of the Alliance for Release of Innocent Fishermen said there was no such delay in earlier incidents when the country released Indian boats.

“We are left to wonder why fisheries officials collected power of attorney from boat owners though Lankan courts released the boats without any such formalities. We used to collect court order through fax and sent salvage team from here. We used to get our boats back in a couple of days. Though the state government said it would bear expenses of repatriation of boats this time, such prolonged delay from fisheries department is puzzling our fishermen,” he stated.

Fisheries official said they were waiting for salvage orders of the boats. Additional director of fisheries K Rengaraju said they were working out formalities and boats will be repatriated shortly.

(Times of India)