Trinco fishermen to bring their boats from Tamilnadu after 13 years

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 02 September 2003, 19:41 GMT]
Sixty one fishing crafts of Tamil fishermen in Trincomalee that have been lying at Nagapatinam in Tamilnadu, India, under the custody of Indian custom authorities since 1990, will be brought back to Trincomalee next week with the assistance of Indian and Sri Lankan Navies, North East Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement Ministry Secretary, Mr.S.Sivathasan, said Tuesday.

Hundreds of Tamil fishermen in Trincomalee with their families fled to Tamilnadu in their fishing crafts to save their lives when Sri Lanka Army unleashed violence against Tamils in the eastern port town in 1990, sources said.

The fishermen sought refuge at Nagapatinam in Tamilnadu. Some years later they sought permission from Indian customs to take their boats back to Sri Lanka. When the Indian customs refused permission, the fishermen brought their families back to Trincomalee, leaving their crafts at Nagapatinam in the custody of Indian customs. Thereafter several unsuccessful attempts were made by the fishermen to bring back their crafts, sources said.

Once a team of Sri Lanka Navy officials visited Tamilnadu and held talks with Indian officials, but no progress was made in this regard, sources said.

With the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, the affected fishermen had made a fresh attempt with the assistance of Trincomalee district parliamentarian, Mr.R.Sampanthan, who in turn contacted the Prime Minister and the NE Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement Ministry to find a way to bring back the crafts from South India, sources said.

The World Bank came to the assistance of the affected fishermen to repair their boats lying at Nagapatinam before being brought to Sri Lanka. The affected fishermen then formed a co-operative society called North Coast Boat Owners Co-operative Society, with Mr. Muthulingam Sithirasegaram as president and Mr.Nagappan Gengatharan as secretary. Both are now in Nagapatinam making arrangements to take the boats to Trincomalee next week.

The World Bank released the necessary funds through the NEPC to the Department of Co-operative Development. The money has been directed to the North Coast Boat Owners Co-operative Society through a revolving fund. The society should repay this money once the vessels have arrived Trincomalee and the fishermen commence fishing using the vessels, co-operative department officials said.

Indian Coast Guard vessels will provide escort to the fishing crafts from Indian shore to the Sri Lankan territorial waters from where the Sri Lanka Navy will provide escort to Trincomalee Codbay jetty, NEPC sources said.

The owners will also travel with their boats from Nagapatinam to Trincomalee, NEPC sources said.

 

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