Fishermen say ‘yes’ to auctioning of Indian boats | Daily News

Fishermen say ‘yes’ to auctioning of Indian boats

The reported auctioning of 125 mechanised boats, lying in Sri Lanka, has been planned only after taking into confidence fishermen concerned, according to officials of the Fisheries Department and a senior representative of the fisher community.

The fishermen’s associations had also requested the State government to arrange for the auctioning of the boats, said D. Jayakumar, Fisheries Minister, in a statement.

A team of four officials and 10 representatives of the fisher community visited Sri Lanka during October 10-16, 2018. This was done to ascertain how many of the released boats could be brought back to Tamil Nadu. After deliberations among the officials and the representatives, it was decided to take home 36 boats and let the rest to be auctioned in Sri Lanka.

Consequently, those boats were brought back to Tamil Nadu during January 16 – February 6, 2019, says a senior official in the department. The State government, according to the Minister, had spent Rs.47.95 lakhs for bringing back the boats.

In May this year, a team was supposed to visit Sri Lanka to bring back 10 more boats but the COVID-19 pandemic had disturbed the plan. As the boats, identified for auctioning, are the properties of Indian nationals, the proceeds to be collected out of the auctioned would be handed over to the Indian High Commission so that the amount would eventually be passed on to the owners of the boats concerned, an official said.

Jayakumar said the State government had requested the External Affairs Ministry to send the money to it for distributing it to the owners.

P. Jesu Raja, president of the Ramanathapuram district chapter of the All Mechanised Boats-Fishermen Association, said he was one of those who went to Sri Lanka and it was agreed that the unsalvageable boats could be auctioned in the neighbouring country itself.

As the value of each boat is in the range of Rs.1.5 million to Rs.3 million, the owners or the fishermen stand to lose heavily if the expected revenue through the auction is “just Rs.300,000 to 400,000 per boat. This is why the Central and State governments should provide compensation to the respective fishermen in addition to the amount to be collected through the auction, Jesu Raja said.

Meanwhile, following the news of a Sri Lankan court clearing the auction or destruction of over 100 Indian vessels – seized between 2015 and 2018 – Sri Lankan officials said they sought the court’s permission only after the Indian side had deemed the vessels “unsalvageable”, owing to corrosion.

“The district fisheries authority petitioned the court on auctioning the vessels, based on a discussion between the Sri Lankan Fisheries Department and Foreign Ministry officials in August, on what we could do with vessels yet to be claimed,” said Jayarajasingham Sudaharan, assistant director at the Fisheries Department in Jaffna.

The Sri Lankan side had taken on board the India mission’s input on the issue, according to officials.

- (The Hindu)