Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi registering the State government’s concerns on the enactment of a new law by the Sri Lankan Government imposing huge penalties on Indian fishermen if they engage in fishing in the Palk Bay, The Hindu newspaper reported.
The new legislation has created “widespread resentment and panic among the fishermen of Tamil Nadu, especially among those fishing in the Palk Bay,” he contended and urged the Prime Minister to direct the External Affairs Ministry to register its strong protest and ensure that the Act is not implemented.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr. Palaniswami said that the new legislation, with provisions to “incarcerate fishermen for longer periods of time and impose huge penalties”, would affect Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu who “will then be left to the mercy of the Sri Lankan government.”
The move by the Sri Lankan government was “extremely unfortunate”, since Ministers of both countries had met twice in the recent past for working out a permanent solution to resolve the long-pending issue, he contended.
Listing out the efforts taken by the Tamil Nadu government to decongest the Palk Bay and wean away fishermen from trawling, he said the “unilateral” move by Sri Lanka government would impact the livelihood of thousands of fisherfolk from the State.
The Palk Bay is the “historic and traditional fishing area” of fishermen from Tamil Nadu, he claimed and further pointed to the case pending before the Supreme Court over the issue.
The Chief Minister also referred to the fishermen and boats [from Tamil Nadu] presently in the custody of Sri Lankan authorities and called for their immediate release.