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PM launches deep-sea fishing scheme for Rameswaram fishermen

Acceding to a long-pending demand of the Tamil Nadu government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched a deep-sea fishing scheme for fishermen of this region, saying it would help them overcome problems of fishing in Palk Strait.

PM launches deep-sea fishing scheme for Rameswaram fishermen
PM Narendra Modi and TN CM K Palaniswami

Under the initiative taken up under the "Blue Revolution" scheme, the Centre would allocate Rs 1,500 crore over a period of time for conversion of bottom trawling boats into deep sea liners.

Handing over the sanction letters to select beneficiaries of the Long Line Trawlers under the scheme at a public meeting here, Modi said it would help fishermen to get better revenue and overcome problems of fishing in the Palk Strait.

The measure was instantly hailed by Chief Minister K Palaniswami, who in his speech at the event, thanked Modi for ensuring the prompt release of funds for conversion of bottom trawlers of state fishermen to long liners.

"I wish to thank Prime Minister Modi for extending financial assistance of Rs 200 crore this year for conversion of the bottom trawling boats to deep sea long liners ... and for launching this scheme today," he said.

Under the Blue Revolution scheme, Rs 100 crore was allotted and as a Special Financial Package Rs 100 crore was sanctioned by the Centre for this initiative, he noted.

Recalling that late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had battled for retrieval of Katchatheevu to end fishermen woes when she had met PM Modi in 2014, Palaniswami said she had also repeatedly taken up with the Centre a deep-sea fishing and infrastructure package of Rs 1,520 crore since 2014.

In May, this year, he too had made the demand, he recalled.

Along with the Centre's contribution of Rs 200 crore, the state government too allotted Rs 86 crore for the conversion of bottom trawlers to long liners, he said.

In the first phase, a total of 500 bottom trawlers will be converted into long liners at the cost of Rs 286 crore, he said adding a total of 2,000 bottom trawlers will be customised as long liners at a cost of Rs 1,621 crore in three phases.

Palaniswami thanked Modi for accepting "Amma's proposal" to alleviate the sufferings of Tamil Nadu's Palk Strait fishermen and personally directing the relevant Union ministries to ensure release of adequate funds for the plan.

The use of bottom trawlers by the state fishermen was being vehemently opposed by Sri Lankan government, whose navy often arrests them on charge of poaching.

Deep sea liners are expected to help fishermen make a turnaround in their fortunes against such a background.

Palaniswami also requested Modi to "kindly use your good office to persuade" the Sri Lankan Government to release all the 75 Tamil Nadu fisherman and 149 fishing boats in its custody.

He also said in the temple town of Rameswaram, amenities were being improved through the 'Swach Bharat' and 'Amrut' Central schemes totalling worth about Rs 48 crore.

Thanking Modi for such initiatives, he sought the Centre's nod for a Rs 78.17 crore improvement scheme to further upgrade the civic amenities for Rameswaram.

He said the opening of the new highway up to the Arichalmunai point from Mukuntharoyar Chatiram at Dhanuskodi was a 50-year dream come true for the Rameswaram people.

Palanisamy also drew parallel between Kalam and Modi, saying both belonged to "small villages, poor background and have reached great height by sheer hard work, honesty, integrity, sharp intellect and self-confidence."

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