The retrieval of Katchatheevu was the “only solution” to the fishermen issue and the Tamil Nadu government was taking legal steps towards the solution, Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar informed the State Legislative Assembly on Tuesday. Tamil Nadu government has been taking steps in phases to prevent disputes pertaining to fishermen drifting into Sri Lankan waters.
When Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) legislator K.A.M. Muhammed Abubacker (Kadayanallur) raised the issue in the House, Mr. Jayakumar said the State government has been implementing the scheme to roll out tuna long liners cum gillnetter fishing vessels.
Contending that fishermen from Tamil Nadu were “not deliberately” crossing the international maritime border, Mr. Jayakumar said the boats with fishermen on board were drifting into Lankan waters due to wind currents.
To Mr. Abubacker’s suggestion for strengthening fishermen-to-fishermen contacts in Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu through a cooperative society, Mr. Jayakumar said a total of three meetings were organised over reducing tensions. The scheme would be implemented over five years, he said.
Though Tamil Nadu accepted the Sri Lankan authorities’ demand for discontinuing usage of certain type of nets for fishing, the Lankan authorities were not for giving time for Tamil Nadu to implement the decision. The Minister indicated any decision could not be implemented within a day.
The Minister also said that fishermen in the State were benefiting from the Prime Minister Blue Revolution Scheme.
Due to the efforts taken by the AIADMK government, the attacks and shoot-outs on Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan authorities have drastically reduced over the past nine years, he underlined. During another debate, intervening DMK MLA Anitha R. Radhakrishnan (Tiruchendur), Textiles Minister O.S. Manian said attacks on Indian fishermen by Lankan authorities have come down.