New Delhi, Feb 27: In a written reply to a question raised in the Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Facility envisages connectivity between Indian ports on the eastern seaboard and Sittwe Port in Myanmar suggesting that this alternate route would facilitate the transport of goods between the eight north eastern Indian states and Myanmar, Mukherjee said that the approximate cost of the project is expected to be Rs. 545 crores.
The time-frame for the project is five years from the date of actual commencement of the project, which will be after the Agreement and the Protocols are signed by the two Governments, he added. In another reply, Mukherjee informed the House that 460 Indian fishermen had been taken into custody by the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) in 2005, 365 in 2006, 124 in 2007 and 22 in 2008.
251 boats were similarly taken into custody between 2003 and 2005, 58 in 2006, 29 in 2007 and 4 in 2008. As per information available, 372 Indian fishermen and 342 boats continue to be in the custody of the Pakistan authorities, he said, adding that the fishermen and boats are mostly from Gujarat and the Union Territory of Diu and Daman.
Since 2005, 1579 fishermen have been released by Pakistan, including those taken into custody before 2005. Government have been taking up the issue of the release of fishermen and their boats regularly with the Government of Pakistan, including at the highest level.
He said that a Judicial Committee, comprising judges from India and Pakistan, has been formed to expedite the release of prisoners in either country.
The Committee has been meeting over the last two days.