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'Sri Lankan bill a setback to diplomatic efforts'

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K.Palaniswami has said the reported passage of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Amendment) Bill by Sri Lankan Parliament is a severe setback to the diplomatic efforts being taken by India and Sri Lanka to resolve the fishermen issue amicably.

Jul 7, 2017
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K.Palaniswami has said the reported passage of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Amendment) Bill by Sri Lankan Parliament is a severe setback to the diplomatic efforts being taken by India and Sri Lanka to resolve the fishermen issue amicably.
 
He also said the Indian government should register its protest with the island nation and also organise an effective defense of the rights of Indian fishermen in the Palk Bay.
 
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Palaniswami said: “The passing of the ill-advised bill at a time when the ministers of India and Sri Lanka as well as Joint Working Group on Fisheries have met only recently to resolve the Indo-Sri Lankan Fishermen issues is shocking.”
 
“The unilateral move by the Government of Sri Lanka will definitely hamper the joint initiatives taken by the Government of India as well as Government of Sri Lanka. The legislation proposed is, in fact, a severe setback to the diplomatic efforts being taken to resolve the issue amicably,” Palaniswami said.
 
Citing reports Palaniswami said under the provisions of the Bill, the fishing trawlers as well as fishing gear used for fishing in the Sri Lankan territorial waters will be confiscated, fishermen imprisoned for two years and huge fines upto 50,000 Lankan rupees will be imposed.
 
It is further reported that the bill is predominantly aimed at Indian fishermen who have been carrying out fishing for many centuries in their traditional waters of Palk Bay, he said. 
 
“As you are aware, Palk Bay is the historic and traditional fishing area of Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu. The historical rights of the Indian fishermen were simply signed away as part of the ill advised Indo-Sri Lankan agreements of 1974 and 1976 which also unilaterally ceded Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka without having any foresight or concern for the plight of our innocent fishermen,” Palaniswami added.
 
He said there are 50 Tamil Nadu fishermen and 143 fishing boats belonging to Tamil Nadu fishermen in Lankan custody since 2015.
 
The new legislation of Sri Lanka is aimed at preventing our fishermen from exercising their traditional fishing rights in the fishing waters in which they have continued to fish for several centuries and  will deny their fundamental rights conferred by the Constitution of India, he stated. 

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