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India Sri Lanka Agreement 1974

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Negotiations resumed in August 2010 and a reciprocal visit by Sri Lankan fishermen took place. This time, the Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister supported the visit and the Tamil Nadu government agreed to send observers to the meeting. Fishermen in Tamil Nadu reported being harassed and intimidated by the Sri Lankan navy and expressed their desire to revive the 2004 agreement; Sri Lankan fishermen deplored the damage caused by bottom trawling and called for an immediate end to the practice. Indian delegates stressed that it would not be possible to stop trawling if their government had not taken concrete steps to buy back the trawlers. While conclusions of the dialogue were presented to government officials, the dispute was not resolved. In 1974, Katchatheevu was ceded to Sri Lanka by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by the Indo-Sri Lanka maritime agreement to settle the Palk Street maritime border with his counterpart Srimavo Bandaranaike. This forced Mr. Karunanidhi, then Prime Minister of Tamil Nadu, to write to Indira Gandhi how the country was historically part of Ramnads Zamindari. It can be argued that the unilateral abrogation of the maritime border agreement on the Indian side would cause irreparable harm to India`s image in the Community of Nations.13 There are two approaches: (1) reclaiming Kachchatheevu Island to “sustainably stagnate” or (2) allowing authorized Indian fishermen to fish in a specific area of Sri Lankan waters and vice versa.

The first measure would allow Sri Lanka to retain ownership of Kachchatheevu, but to lease the island for the long term so that Indian fishermen can continue to fish in and around Kachchatheevu.14 Tin Bigha`s case is a good example that can be emulated; The India and Bangladeshi agreement of 1974 gave India sovereignty over Tin Bigha, but a permanent lease allowed Bangladeshis to use it for civilian purposes. Jayalalithaa and Muthuvel Karunanidhi, former Prime Minister of Tamil Nadu and leader of the DMK party, have proposed this option on numerous occasions in New Delhi, but have not been able to convince New Delhi to reopen the subject15. The 1976 border agreement, which allowed licensed Sri Lankan fishermen to fish on the shore of the Wadge (a fertile fishing country near Kanyakumari) for a period of three years, sets a precedent. In return, Sri Lankan fishermen may be allowed to fish in India`s exclusive economic zone under the same conditions as those for Indian fishermen.16 Successive Tamil Nadu governments supported this action, but New Delhi has long turned a blind eye to the option.17 India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives signed another agreement in July 1976 to determine the triple point in the Gulf of Mannar. Subsequently, in November, India and Sri Lanka signed another agreement to extend the maritime border in the Gulf of Mannar. [3] 34 PTI, “Sri Lanka Lauds Jayalalitha`s Proposal to Phase Out Bottom Trawling,” The Indian Express, August 2, 2016, indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/sri-lanka-lauds-jayalalithaas-proposal-to-phase-out-bottom-trawling-2950130/.