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Current Affairs

Katchatheevu island

Date: 31 May 2022 Tags: India & World

Issue

Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin has asked India to get back control over the Katchatheevu island.

 

Background

The island was handed over to Sri Lanka under the India-Sri Lanka Maritime Boundary Agreements between 1974-76.

 

Details

Retrieving the Katchatheevu island is a long-standing demand in Tamil Nadu. Fishermen of the state want to exercise their rights.

 

About

It is an uninhabited island located in Palk Strait, which connects the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea. Till 1976, it was administered by India.

 

History

The island was formed due to volcanic eruptions in the 14th century. The Raja of Ramnad owned the island and it later became a part of the Madras Presidency.

 

The dispute

  • Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen have been fishing in each other’s territorial water without issue. The dispute emerged after India-Sri Lanka signed maritime boundary agreements.

  • The agreement allowed Indian fishermen to use the island only for resting, drying net and for annual religious festival.

  • Indian fishermen did not follow the directive and ventured into Sri Lankan waters for better catch.

 

LTTE years

  • Fishing was highly restricted during LTTE years. The coast guard was deployed to prevent movement of boats.

  • The Sri Lankan government feared that rebels could freely travel between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka in guise of fishing.

  • This provided Indian fishermen an opportunity to expand their areas into in Sri Lankan water for rich catch. 

  • After defeat of LTTE, fishing activities resumed in Palk Strait. Sri Lankan fishermen opposed Indian fishermen‘s presence in their territorial waters.

 

Present situation

  • Sri Lankan coast guard has increased its vigilance in Palk Strait. They have arrested Tamil Nadu fishermen and destroyed their equipments.

  • There are also incidents of firing on Tamil fishermen by Sri Lankan coast guards. They justify their actions as a necessity to protect their territory.