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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2703

Northern fisher-folk hear good news on boats snatched offshore in war time

Colombo, 06 September, (Aiantribune.com):

Having faced a three decades’ of unrest followed by many environmental and other woes, the fishermen and farmers in Mannar region breathed a big sigh of relief on 26 August, after they met their sectoral line Minister in their own soil. They also received some good news from him on the recovery of their machinery seized in offshore during 1980-‘85.

On the invitation and request of Vanni District MP and Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Irrigation and Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development P Harrison toured Mannar on 26 August and met fishermen and farmers. Minister Harrison also launched several farmers supports projects in Mannar on the same day.

“Minister Harrison not only visited and met our farmers and fishermen right here in Mannar, but stayed for longer hours and listened to their issues and addressed them. He also launched several projects for the farmers here today. We thank him for his interest on Mannar people’s issues” said Vanni District MP and Minister of Industry, Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons, Cooperative Development, Skills Development & Vocational Training Rishad Bathiudeen, in Vankalai, Mannar.

Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the fishery community of Vankalai, Mannar accompanied by Minister P Harrison who toured Mannar, met fishermen and thereafter launched several farmer support projects.

• 1000 fisher families, farmers from Mannar meet Fishery Minister Harrison after Rishad makes quick arrangements
• ‘Scheduling a Colombo meeting next’- Minister Harrison
• Many new infrastructures, supplies for Mannar farmers; ‘Our Thanks!’ -Rishad

There are around 1000 fisher families in Vankalai area of Mannar. These fishermen informed of the issues they faced such as illegal fishing by foreign fishermen in their fishing grounds and how to overcome them. They also voiced their need for a new sea sand belt that would prevent heavy erosion of their beaches and also called for a new Fishery Harbour for them in Pesalai.

The fishermen also wanted compensation for their 81 ocean boats seized by the South Indian Ocean Patrol/Guards in 1980-’85 period. These 81 boats were fitted with outboard motors at the time they were confiscated in Indian waters due to the ongoing war, they said.

Minister Harrison gave the assurance to Mannar fisher-folks that he will take up the foreign fishermen’s issue and the return of 81 boat in the coming weeks along with NARA and NAQDA officials, in meetings to be held in Colombo.

Farmers and fishermen praised both Ministers for their initiatives to resolve their issues by meeting them on their own locations. “There are more than 1000 fishery families and many more farming families in Mannar for many generations. We now need support from the authorities for us to maintain our livelihoods said Vankalai Fisherman Rajan Mark. “The loss of 81 boats in to Indian authorities 1980’s dealt a big blow to fishermen here. Since they are now unusable even if returned to us, compensation for them for us will greatly help our lives-a key request that we made to both Ministers today” Rajan added.

Minister Harrison also launched ground water pumps and the Marichchikatti Agrarian Services Centre, that was completed way back in 2010 but was held back without launching till to-date due to an issue on its land. Another brand-new Agrarian Services Centre was also launched in Vilankulama on the same day.

- Asian Tribune

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons, Cooperative Development, Skills Development & Vocational Training (ICTPDPCDSDVT) and Vanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen and the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Irrigation and Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development P Harrison listen to the woes of Mannar fishermen on 26 August in Mannar.
Minister of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Irrigation and Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development P Harrison (right) tests a farmer’s tractor in Mannar as the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons, Cooperative Development, Skills Development & Vocational Training (ICTPDPCDSDVT) and Vanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen looks on in Mannar on 26 August.
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