Chennai, Feb 27: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam today asked the Centre to take urgent steps for release of 29 fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy, besides releasing a financial package of Rs 1,520 crore for improving the socio-economic status of the state's fishermen.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the CM said besides arresting the fishermen yesterday, the island navy had also seized their three boats.
"It is unfortunate that this incident has taken place even after the change in regime in Sri Lanka. Nearly 10 lakh fisherfolk in Tamil Nadu depend on marine fishing as their only source of livelihood," Panneerselvam said in his letter.
Stating that a two-pronged approach was necessary to allay apprehensions of the fishermen, he said, "One is the sanction of financial package of Rs 1,520 crore and a recurring grant of Rs 10 crore per annum for maintenance dredging would go a long way in improving the socio-economic status of the fishermen."
"The second is the abrogation of the 1974 and 1976 agreements and retrieval of Katchatheevu as well as restoration of the traditional and historical fishing grounds the Palk Bay to the Tamil Nadu fishermen," he said. Panneerselvam requested Modi to instruct the External Affairs Ministry to take up the matter immediately and ensure prompt release of the 29 fishermen and their three boats.