India fishermen delegation to visit Sri Lanka

With Indian fishermen facing problems along the Sri Lankan border, Government on Saturday decided that a delegation of fishermen associations from Tamil Nadu will visit Colombo for discussions with their counterparts.

Last Updated: Feb 26, 2011, 17:44 PM IST

New Delhi: With Indian fishermen facing problems along the Sri Lankan border, Government on Saturday decided that a delegation of fishermen associations from Tamil Nadu will visit Colombo for discussions with their counterparts.

The decision was taken at a meeting convened by Foreign Secrertary Nirupama Rao with officials of various departments like the Defence Ministry, Coast Guard and the
Tamil Nadu Government.

The meeting, in which Tamil Nadu was represented by Chief Secretary S Malathi and the Fisheries Secretary, "emphasised that resorting to firing and use of force in such situations as had happened in January 2011 had no justification".

"Satisfaction was expressed at the release of the 136 Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Government," an official statement from the MEA said. Sri Lankan Navy had apprehended these fishermen last week after they crossed into its waters.

India had strongly condemned the use of force against its fishermen and last month dispatched Rao to Colombo to register its strong protest with the Sri Lankan Government.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna had on Wednesday asked the fishermen to be "conscious of the sensitivities" on the Sri Lankan side and their fishermen.

The meeting, which was also attended by the Director General of Coast Guard, welcomed the convening of the Indo-Lanka Joint Working Group on Fishing proposed for March, which would also discuss the proposed draft MoU on development and cooperation in the field of fisheries.

"It was decided that the Governments of India and Tamil Nadu would encourage a delegation of local fishermen`s associations from Tamil Nadu to visit Sri Lanka in March to meet with their Sri Lankan counterparts," the statement said.

The meeting also noted that such contacts have proved to be mutually beneficial and underlined the need for strengthening them.

During the meeting, the Tamil Nadu Government referred to the ongoing efforts to inform fishermen about the need to observe security and safety parameters while engaging in fishing activities in the waters between India and Sri Lanka.

The meeting also focussed on measures to further augment security in the vicinity of the International Maritime Boundary Line.

During the meeting, it was also decided that the Tamil Nadu Government will finalise the necessary arrangements, in consultation with the Centre, to facilitate the participation of Indian pilgrims at the St Anthony`s festival at Kachchativu
Island.

"The welfare, safety and security of our fishermen will continue to receive the highest priority of both the Central and state governments," the statement said.

PTI