251 fishermen released from Lankan custody in 2017 : Sushma Swaraj

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sushma swarajExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has consistently flagged India’s concerns over the detention of fishermen with the Government of Sri Lanka.

She said that the issue of Indian fishermen being held by Sri Lanka has been taken up at top-level meetings including by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was also present in the House.

Also, the government has secured the release of 251 fishermen and 42 fishing boats in Sri Lankan custody in 2017.
Government has been attempting for the early release of Indian fishermen who are being held by the Sri Lankan Navy for ‘allegedly’ fishing in their waters, she said in the Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour.

In a written reply, Swaraj said that the number of Indian fishermen and fishing boats in the custody of Sri Lankan authorities as on July 31 this year was 15 and 117 respectively.
She also said the government has decided to promote deep sea fishing and a scheme with a budget of Rs 1,500 crore has been formulated which also will help in resolving the difficulties faced by the fishermen.

Responding to questions about ban on bottom trawling (trawling along the sea floor) by Sri Lanka, Swaraj said the practice damaged the environment. Even in Tamil Nadu, new licenses were not being granted as bottom trawlers damaged the sea surface, she said.

Giving details, Swaraj said the government regularly takes up the matter of early release and repatriation of Indian fishermen with the government of Sri Lanka.
She also referred to the case of seven Indian fishermen held along with two trawlers by Sri Lanka.

The fishermen were produced in the court on July 27 and the court extended their judicial custody upto August 10.