Strongly opposing the recent legislation on fishing restriction by Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami asserted the fishing rights of the State in the Palk Bay and further urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to protest the legislation and take steps to exempt the Bay from its purview, The Hindu newspaper reported.
Recalling efforts from both sides to resolve the fishermen issue, the Chief Minister said that the recent legislation was a “harsh step to undermine the diplomatic efforts” being undertaken by India to sort out the sensitive issue. “It would be fitting for the Government of India to register its strongest disapproval of such move and must organise an effective defence of the rights of our fishermen in the Palk Bay,” he wrote to the Prime Minister.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Palaniswami said the Palk Bay was the historic and traditional fishing area of Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu and the new legislation of Sri Lanka was “aimed at preventing our fishermen from exercising their traditional fishing rights in the fishing waters” and would deny their fundamental rights conferred by the Indian Constitution.
Palaniswami also urged the Prime Minister to direct the Union Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Mission in Sri Lanka to effectively respond to the Sri Lanka legislation by registering strong protest and to further ensure that necessary provisions are made in the new legislation to exempt the Palk Bay from its purview.
The new Bill passed by the Parliament of Sri Lanka was a “retrograde step” and would “hamper” the joint initiatives taken by both Indian and Sri Lankan government over the fishermen issue and was a “severe setback” to the diplomatic efforts being taken to resolve the issue amicably, Palaniswami contended.
“The current inhumane strategy of Government of Sri Lanka has already been inflicting huge pecuniary losses to the fishermen of Tamil Nadu. The new legislation will further aggravate the situation. The move by the Government of Sri Lanka has caused great disquiet and anguish to the fishing community in Tamil Nadu,” he added.
Sri Lanka on Thursday imposed a ban on the destructive fishing practice of bottom-trawling in their waters and thereby made violators liable for a fine of LKR 50,000 (approximately ₹20,000) and face two years imprisonment. The legislation passed in Sri Lankan Parliament could directly impact fishermen from Tamil Nadu, some of whom engage in bottom-trawling and have often been found drifting into Sri Lanka’s territorial waters.