New Delhi: As many as 57 Indian fishing boats, which were in custody of Pakistan, have returned to Gujarat after the vessels were released by the maritime authorities of the neighbouring country.
The boats sailed from Karachi on March 21 and arrived at International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) next day and reached Porbandar on Monday, a Home Ministry statement said here.
A team of 57 towing boats, 407 fishermen and 10 Gujarat government officials had sailed from Porbandar to the designated IMBL site on March 21, 2015 to receive the India boats from Pakistan.
These boats were towed away by Pakistani trawlers to the designated location at IMBL site in sea under the supervision of Pakistan Maritime Security Agency. Two India Coast Guard ships - Rajratan and Vijit - along with adequate manpower were supervising the whole operation.
The Home Ministry had arranged the movement of 8-member team from the Gujarat government to Pakistan for inspection, repair and return of the boats on March 10, 2015.
The Ministry of External Affairs, High Commission of India, Islamabad, Indian Coast Guard, Indian visiting team, Government of Pakistan and Pakistan Maritime Security Agency had several rounds of discussions regarding the return of boats to India, the statement said.
The Home Ministry coordinated and monitored the whole operation. The Ministry also provided an amount of Rs 1.28 crore for the repair and return of the boats which was carried out from March 11 to March 19.
It is mentioned that the average cost of each boat is approximately Rs 25?30 lakh. Return of these boats will also ensure livelihood for a number of fishermen families.
Last time, the operation of bringing 53 Indian fishing boats from Pakistan was in 2003-04.