"In that case, Indian fishermen will have about 20 nautical miles to fish and they would not have to enter Sri Lankan waters," he said.
Meanwhile, Secretary of the Mannar District Fisheries Co-operative Society N.M. Alam said, We have learned through the media that the Kachchativu sea area is to be given to India on a long term basis. He said that the actual situation is yet unknown but said that India has been trying for a long time to get back Kachchathivu.
The Fisheries and other organizations held a media briefing on the 19th and revealed details of the plans to lease Kachchathivu to India.
President of the Mannar District Federation of Rural Organizations Justin Zoysa, Anthony Shankar, Treasurer of the Northern Province Fisheries Association, Balasuresh Achchudan, Vice President of the Federation of Fisheries Associations of the Northern Province and Yogaraj Cruz, President of the Federation also addressed the media.
Alam said during the meeting that India is trying to take advantage of the country’s economic crisis to get back Kachchathivu, adding that the former Finance Minister may have already drawn plans for this purpose. He added that if the island is given back to India it will cause major issues. He said already Indian fishermen are poaching on Sri Lankan waters and there are various illegal activities taking place.
In 1974 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi handed over Kachchathivu to Sri Lanka based on the friendship between her and Sri Lanka’s then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
Today Kachchathivu is an important center for the fishing community of both India and Sri Lanka. Recent clashes between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen also took place near this island.
The Mannar fisheries leader said that by handing over Kachchathivu to India it would create serious problems not only for the Northern fishermen, but it poses a threat of many places being taken over by India.
They also pointed out that another island ‘Uchchamunai Island’ in the Kalpitiya archipelago comprising about 300 fishing families with a government school and a Catholic church, has also been given over to a Swiss company for Tourism Promotion, and a 30-year lease agreement has recently been signed recently.