July 06, Colombo: Indian government is considering to make a pact with Sri Lanka to find a permanent solution to the repeated capture of Tamil Nadu fishermen in Sri Lankan waters, a Times of India report said.
The Indian government is discussing various measures including reaching an agreement with Sri Lanka to allow Indian fishermen to operate around the Katchatheevu island for a payment, according to a news item published by the Times of India Saturday.
Tamil Nadu fishermen consider they have a traditional right over Katchatheevu because of its historical administrative connect with the state. However, India ceded the uninhabited island to Sri Lanka in 1974.
Although the Indians are allowed to visit the island, which has only a catholic shrine, they are not allowed to fish near the island.
Indian fishermen, mainly from Tamil Nadu defy the restriction and fish in Sri Lankan waters and the Sri Lanka Navy continually arrest those who violate the maritime boundary.
A senior home ministry official has told TOI that the Indian government's position on Sri Lankan ownership of the islet is final.
"But we are concerned about the repeated capture of our fishermen and their livelihood. The government is considering whether through an arrangement of payment (say Rs 10,000 per trip or any other mutually agreeable amount) per trip to Sri Lanka, Indian fishermen can be allowed fishing in the zone," the official has said.
Tamil Nadu politicians including the Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa have urged the Indian government to retrieve the Katchatheevu islet from Sri Lanka
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister had recently written to Indian PM Narendra Modi seeking a lasting solution to the problem. The PMO has held three meetings over the issue with representation from various ministries including external affairs, home, defence and fisheries, the TOI reported.