Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh has expressed hope of a positive outcome in the ministerial-level talks to be held between India and Sri Lanka over the fishermen issue even as he hit out at the Congress for 'failure' to resolve it during its tenure.
Leaving for Colombo from Chennai to participate in the two-day talks beginning later today over the dispute on fishing rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen in the Palk Bay, he said the BJP-led NDA government was taking all steps to find a permanent solution to the issue.
Speaking to reporters at the airport, Singh attacked the Congress for not solving the issue. "Congress party did not act to solve the issue during its tenure and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking all steps to protect our fishermen and solve their issues," he said.
Singh said he hoped for a positive outcome in the talks. The Minister said he was participating in the talks as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was convalescing after recently undergoing kidney transplant. In a tweet, Singh said, "I will be visiting #SriLanka from January 2nd to January 3rd 2017."
He said the visit will focus on "discussing permanent solutions to the problems and issues of fishermen." Ascertaining possibilities for cooperation in patrolling, release of apprehended fishing vessels and fishermen of both sides and promotion of deep sea fishing by providing tuna long liners to (Indian) fishermen will be the other areas of focus, he said.
Tamil Nadu government has been urging the Centre to take up the fishermen issue with the island nation and find a permanent solution. Chief Minister O Panneerselvam in a recent letter to the Prime Minister had said the recurrent instances of 'attacks and abduction' of the state fishermen should be stopped immediately.
"Our fishermen should be allowed to pursue their peaceful avocation of fishing in their traditional fishing waters of the Palk Bay," he had said in the Dec 21 letter.