The Tamil Nadu government today said it has appealed to the Centre to continue efforts to rescue fishermen who went missing due to Cyclone Ockhi. Chief Minister K Palaniswami said search and rescue efforts to locate missing fishermen was a task vested with the Centre. "We have appealed to the Centre in this regard," he informed members in the Tamil Nadu assembly. Cyclone Ockhi wrecked havoc in southern Tamil Nadu districts last month, particularly Kanyakumari. The Chief Minister was responding to a query from Leader of the Opposition M K Stalin, seeking information on search efforts as the Defence Ministry had stated that it had called off rescue operations. The DMK leader quoted Governor Banwarilal Purohit's address yesterday, which said that rescue efforts would be continued till every missing fisherman was rescued. Palaniswami said the government had borne the expenditure of Kanyakumari fishermen who volunteered and went on a rescue mission in their own boats to find their missing brethren. As many as 3,522 fishermen safely returned to their bases, he said. On January 7, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said in Coimbatore that the government had taken all possible steps to rescue the fishermen from November 30 last year. To a question on the cyclone and missing fishermen, she said she had posted tweets every day about updates on search operations which continued till December 27. On the still missing fishermen, the Minister said the government was aware of it and that she would hold discussions with the Home Ministry on sorting out the issue. Answering Congress member J G Prince who sought advanced communication gadgets to fishermen so that they could be intimated in advance in times of cyclone, Palaniswami said he had sought a dedicated satellite radio channel from the Centre to air weather bulletins to fishermen while they were at sea. He said when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kanyakumari recently, the State government also sought 1,500 high frequency wireless sets. He had also requested Modi to set up a Naval station in Kanyakumari with amenities, including a helicopter landing pad and hi-tech communication facilities, he said "You failed to do it when your (Congress) party was in power at the Centre," he told Prince. Had it been done, fishermen could have been rescued immediately, he said. Such a naval station would help rescue efforts in times of natural events like a cyclone, he added.
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