Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Wednesday held a review meeting with senior officials of Indian Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard on rescuing missing Tamil Nadu fishermen. Most of the fishermen hail from Kanyakumari district. A government release, quoting the meeting, said most of the fishermen who could not return to shore following cyclone Ockhi have been rescued by joint efforts of the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard in association with the state government.
Families of some fishermen who went for deep-sea fishing expressed apprehensions that they might be stranded in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and in between Lakshadweep and Maldives, it said.
The Chief Minister insisted that the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard should continue with coordinated search and rescue in Arabian sea till the fishermen were rescued.
The latitude and longitude details of areas where the fishermen were likely to be stranded have been given to city based Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre and the information was shared with defence officials present in Wednesday’s meeting.
The Coast Guard unit based in Tuticorin has been asked to carry out maritime and aerial surveillance to search and rescue missing country boat fishermen from Kanyakumari, it said.
Further, Palaniswami urged the Eastern Commands of Navy and Coast Guards located here to jointly carry out search and rescue with their southern and western counterparts, and requested them to provide essentials like food and diesel to the rescued fishermen.
He added, during such times in future like a cyclone, the Coast Guard and Navy should undertake aerial sorties to ask fishermen in mid-sea to return to the shore.
“The Chief Minister requested that the long-time demand of Kanyakumari fishermen for setting up an exclusive Coast Guard centre there with helipad facilities be implemented,” to enable quick search and rescue operations in the future, it added.
Further, Palaniswami deputed senior IAS officials to Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala and Lakshadweep to coordinate with the respective state governments for the safe return of some stranded fishermen there.
He announced providing 750 litres of diesel per motorised boat and Rs 200 for every country boat to enable their return here.
The CM also announced a cash assistance of Rs 1,000 per fisherman towards buying food items.
Cyclone Ockhi had battered Kanyakumari last week, crippling normal life.
Fishermen were the worst affected as scores of them who had ventured into the sea, had to be rescued by the forces, even as many of them still have not returned home, raising apprehensions among family members.
Some of them are reportedly stranded in other states like Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Wednesday’s meeting was attended by Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, Rear Admiral Alok Bhatnagar, Flag Officer Commanding, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Naval Area, IAF Station Commander Sundar Mani, and IG, Coast Guard Eastern Command, Rajan Bargotra, besides senior IAS officials.