Bid to bring back fishermen

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JULY 6. The Home Department and the fraternal organisations of fishworkers are making a joint effort to bring back the three fishermen who were reported missing after they went out to sea in outboard motorpowered boats from Vizhinjam harbour on June 25.

The three fishermen, Ani Grace Justin, Christudasan and Alphonso Peter were traced at Negembo in Sri Lanka the other day. They were rescued by their Sree Lankan counterparts when they were found adrift in the high-seas.

The Vizhinjam parish priest, Fr.Eugene Pereira, said that the South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies had already passed the details of the missing fishermen to their units spread in Sri Lanka, Lakshadweep and other places. Once they were traced in Negembo, the SIFFS informed Fr.Eugene about it.

The society spokesman said Justin, Peter and Christudasan were in good health and in the custody of Lankan police. The State Home Department had already informed the Union Government and the Indian Embassy was liaising the Sree Lankan Government to expedite the return of the three fishermen to Kerala. Fr.Pereira said that the fishermen are likely to return within a week.

Meanwhile, there are complaints that the district administration has not stepped up the machinery to rescue the missing fishermen. The local fishermen say that the personnel manning the control room in Vizhinjam are reluctant to venture into the deep sea in the event of a mishap. They are not properly equipped too.

The Kerala Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation wanted the Government to set up a permanent security mechanism in Vizhinjam to stabilise the rescue operations.

There are complaints that the five rescue boats which were built spending lakhs were not operational during the monsoon season. Though it was brought to the notice of the Government that the rescue boat Kaveri in Vizhinjam is not operational, no steps have been taken so far.

The federation wants to make the boats operational and appoint traditional fishermen as crew members. Fishworkers should be trained in the mechanism of the engines used in boats so that they can survive a crisis.