Jayalalithaa slams Coast Guard call for curbs on fishing

Indo Asian News Service

Chennai, Nov 26 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa Saturday termed as 'illogical, preposterous and absolutely outrageous' the central government's stand that the state proclaim a 'no fishing zone' within five nautical miles (NM) from the India-Sri Lanka international maritime boundary line and punish its violators.

In a letter to Prime minister Manmohan Singh, the text of which was released to reporters here, she slammed the stand taken by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) on the no-fishing zone in a court.

Referring to the Coast Guard affidavit, Jayalalithaa said: 'While expressing my total disagreement with this illogical, preposterous and absolutely outrageous stand taken by the Indian Coast Guard before a court of law, I wish to remind you of the stand of my government on this issue as elucidated in a memorandum handed over to you by me in New Delhi on June 14.'

The affidavit was filed before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on a public interest litigation (PIL) that sought direction to thye Coast Guard to give protection to fishermen in the Palk Bay waters.

The Coast Guard contended that fishermen crossed the international maritime boundary line and fished in Sri Lankan waters using banned nets.

'It has also been suggested by the Indian Coast Guard in their affidavit that Tamil Nadu should proclaim a 'No Fishing Zone' within five nautical miles from the India-Sri Lankan international maritime boundary line (IMBL) and impose strict punitive measures against the defaulters,' Jayalalithaa wrote.

'I understand that the issue of allowing fishing in each others' waters on a mutually agreed basis is being discussed by the joint working group (JWG) involving Indian and Sri Lankan authorities. That being the case, it is really surprising that the Indian Coast Guard has taken such a blatantly condemnable stand,' the letter said.

According to Jayalalithaa, if this stand was implemented, Tamil Nadu fishermen would 'have to stop fishing and starve, which, I am sure, is not the intention of the government of India'.

She requested the prime minister to instruct the authorities concerned to rectify the stand in court.