Mathai raises the issue of TN fishermen with Lanka

Ending his 3-day visit, Mathai said that he had taken up the issue of fishermen with his Lankan government.

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

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

He also met with the main opposition leader Ranil

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

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


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