CHENNAI:After the new Sri Lankan government asked fishermen whose boats have been impounded for months, to file applications for the release of the vessels, the Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday pointed out to the Indian mission in Colombo that the procedure was not in vogue. It urged the mission to take expeditious steps to sort it out.
Tamil Nadu Fisheries Secretary S Vijayakumar on Wednesday wrote a letter to Y K Sinha, Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, seeking immediate action to secure the release of the 81 boats.
This followed a communication from the Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, that the State government should approach the Indian High Commission in Colombo to pursue it in earnest.
As the boats are the primary means for the fisherfolk to earn their livelihood, the State government has time and again brought this issue to the notice of the Central government.
“The procedure of filing claims is not in vogue,” Dr Vijayakumar said and pointed out that boats seized by the Sri Lankan authorities had been released simultaneously when the fishermen were released in the past so that their livelihood was not affected.
He urged Sinha to take up the issue through the highest diplomatic channels in Sri Lanka to ensure their early release. The Fisheries Secretary requested Sinha to clarify the procedure by which the owners of the apprehended boats could obtain the quick release of the vessels.
He also referred to reports that these boats that had been berthed precariously in the Sri Lankan waters had suffered great damage. Therefore, there is an urgent need to ensure that the boats are returned to the fishermen expeditiously, Dr Vijayakumar added.