CHENNAI/NAGAPATTINAM:Chief Minister ‘Edappadi’ K Palaniswami on Wednesday granted assistance of Rs 90 lakh to 18 fishermen whose boats could not be salvaged after they were seized by Sri Lankan navy.
According to an official press release, Palaniswami handed over cheques of Rs 5 lakh each to the fishermen at the Secretariat. The boats, which were in the custody of Sri Lanka, were released through a series of initiatives taken by late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the release said adding the State government had formed teams to repair 64 boats, which suffered minor damages.
“The Government had borne the total cost involved to repair the boats. However, 18 boats that were extensively damaged, sunk in the Bay of Bengal,” it said. Following this, the CM directed officials to disburse aid from the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund. The 18 fishermen who received the assistance belong to Ramanathapuram.
Explaining the reason behind the decision to compensate only 18 fishermen , Amal Xavier, regional joint director, Fisheries Department Nagapattinam said, “In 2014, when Sri Lanka decided to release 80 boats it impounded from Tamil Nadu fishermen, the State government deputed officials to ascertain the condition of those boats. On inspection, it was found that 18 boats were damaged beyond repair and a report was submitted to the government. Now the government has announced Rs 5 Lakh each to owners of the boats.”
Reacting to the development, representatives of fishermen association in Nagapattinam, said Rs 5 lakh was a meagre amount considering the actual value of a mechanised vessel. P Mohandoss, fishermen representative of Akkarappettai, said, “A mechanised boast costs H30 to Rs 40 lakh. When the government announced H5 lakh as compensation for damaged boats, the owners refused to accept it saying the amount was insufficient. We don’t know what made them accept it now.”
Our demand is that the government should grant at least half the price of a boat as compensation, Mohandoss said adding there were 138 mechanised boats currently in Lankan custody. “Steps must be initiated to get retrieve them also.”