| by Nelson. S. Edirisinghe
( March 09, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Mr. Douglas Devananda, Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development visited the Kachchativu Island in the night of the last 3rd and met the Indian and Sri Lanka devotees who had come in thousands to participate at the St. Anthony’s Church feast. He mixed with them freely and inquired about their life in general. Later, the Minister held a discussion with the representatives of the fisheries Societies of both countries to rid of the brewing up hostilities and build up affability among them.
Indian fishermen and their representatives, expressing their views to the Media said that they were extremely thankful to Minister Devananda for the interest he had been showing for the wellbeing not only of the Tamil people but also of the Indian fishermen. Speaking further, the Indian Fishermen said that they were quite confident that a permanent solution to the problems faced by the fishermen of both countries could be obtained through actions if led by Minister Devananda.
Speaking at length, the Indian Fishermen said that though discussions to sort out the problems concerning fishermen of both countries had been going on from the year 1974, no practical solution had been arrived at so far. However, they were quite confident that an ever lasting solution to the issue could be arrived at through Minister Devananda’s intervention, as he not only had been working for the betterment of Sri Lankan Tamil People but also for the Indian fishermen, they added. They also said that no Indian Minister even had the practice of going into the people to inquire them of their grievances, and for all of them it was a new experience.
Representatives of Indian fishermen, expressing their views to the Media further said that there was no separate Ministry in Indian Central Government for, Fisheries Affairs and that they had heavily invested in the fisheries industry as they had no other alternative for livelihood. Tamil Nadu Government too was not allocating funds to enable them to get engaged in some other employment. As such they were at present subjected to severe difficulties, they added. The Sri Lankan fishermen thanked the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse for having granted them permission to fish in Kachchativu area and also said that they were grateful to Minister Devananda for taking action to enable the fishermen of both countries to meet and talk over a matter that needed serious attention.
Indian fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters and catching fish by methods not permitted in Sri Lanka, causing threat to sea life was also discussed at the meeting. Speaking at the discussion, the Minister Devananda said that representatives of fishermen of both countries as well as the two governments should collectively and committedly hold discussions to sort out this problem and it was only though such a course of action a meaningful solution to the problem could be arrived at, added the Minister. The Minister also said that the Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapakse had talks with the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the last SAARC conference and soon the two governments would take action to sort out the problem, added the Minister. The Minister recommended that the Naval Forces of both countries should jointly carry out surveillance operations to rid of this problem.
Mr. Jesudhasan, Secretary, Indian Trawler Owners’ Association in Rameshwaram District; Several representatives of Fisheries Societies in India; Leaders of the representatives of Fisheries Societies in the North; Mr. Ganeshamoorthy and Mr. Ravindran, Directors of Aquatic Resources Department of Jaffna and Kilinochchi; Mr. Kamalendran, EPDP Organizer, Jaffna District and Mr. Rajiv, Chairman, Delft Pradeshiya Sabha also participated at this discussion.