New Delhi, Apr 4 (PTI) Over 240 fishermen were still missing after cyclone Ockhi hit India’s southern coast more than five months ago and the chances of their return may be very dim, according to a parliamentary panel.

The parliamentary standing committee on home affairs, headed by senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, has expressed concern over the fate of the missing fishermen and the reports that there was a delay in the launch of ‘search and rescue’ operations.

The committee, in its report submitted to Parliament today, took note of of the submission of the Ministry of Home Affairs that the government, despite the unprecedented circumstances, launched search and rescue operations in a timely manner.

“While the central government has made efforts to rescue the fishermen stranded at sea, the committee observes that nearly 244 fishermen were still missing as on January 4, 2018. With the search and rescue operation being called off by the government, the committee painfully notes that the chances of return of the remaining missing fishermen may now be very dim,” the panel said.

The committee said that it wants the MHA to collect the final number of missing fishermen and submit a report to it.

“The committee recommends that the government must make adequate arrangements for providing a viable means of livelihood to the families of missing fishermen and they should be provided livelihood assistance, as an interim measure, without any delay,” the report said.

Cyclone Ockhi, which formed as a depression over southwest Bay of Bengal on November 29, 2017, intensified into a cyclone off the Kanyakumari coast in Tamil Nadu on November 30 and travelled up to the Gujarat coast before it dissipated on December 6 after weakening into a low pressure area.

Ockhi is the first severe cyclonic storm in almost 40 years to have travelled about 2,400 kilometres from the Bay of Bengal to as far as the Gujarat coast, a senior Met Department official had said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.