Mathai raises the issue of TN fishermen with Lanka
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Last Updated: Monday, October 10, 2011, 19:03
Colombo: Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai on Monday met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and raised the issue of frequent attacks on fishermen from Tamil Nadu during his talks with authorities here underlining that there was no room for violence.

Ending his three-day visit to the Island, Mathai said that he had taken up the issue of fishermen with his Lankan government.

He was told that Lankan navy were not involved in the attacks and that the navy was under strict instructions not to attack Indian fishermen.

In Jaffna where he travelled yesterday, local officials made a presentation on how local fishermen were suffering due to alleged poaching by Indian fishermen in their waters.

Mathai told them that since the issue was one of livelihood there was no room for violence.

Representatives of the fishermen of the two sides should meet for talks to thrash out the issues, he said.

The Foreign Secretary said that he suggested deep sea fishing as means to prevent clashes between the fishermen of the two countries.

Mathai had called on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, in Chennai, prior to his visit here.

Jayalalithaa had conveyed to Mathai her serious concern over increasing attacks, 16 such incidents since May, on Tamil Nadu fishermen allegedly by the Sri Lankan navy.

Meanwhile, Mathai said that President Rajapaksa told him that parallel to his talks with Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on the devolution for Tamil regions, the parliamentary select committee process would be persisted with.

Rajapaksa said that elections would be held early as possible to elect a northern provincial council.

Mathai, who inspected the Indian assisted projects in the north, said that the project to build 50,000 houses for the IDPs need refinement.

He was happy with the progress in the railway track project between Omanthai and Jaffna and the KKS harbour rehabilitation project.

The Indian foreign secretary also had consultations with TNA, the main Tamil minority party.

TNA sources said that they had raised concerns over the alleged biased attitude against the Tamils over the issue of lands in the north, the high security zones and the outstanding problems concerning resettlement of the war displaced.

He also met with the main opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

During a separate meeting with Tamil politician S V Anadasangaree (TULF), D Siddharthan (PLOTE) and T Sritharan (EPRLF), Mathai was told about the coal power plant project in Sampur in the eastern Trincomalee, a joint Lanka-India venture.

Government had taken over 8000 acres of private lands in Sampur owned by about 1400 families, now accommodated in refugee camps for years.


First Published: Monday, October 10, 2011, 19:03

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