Criticising the Centre for not acting "effectively" on the issue of apprehending of Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka authorities, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Saturday said a decisive shift in dealing with the issue was "long awaited" and "need of the hour".
"I am concerned that the Government of India, despite my repeated requests and follow up, has not acted effectively to prevail upon the Sri Lankan authorities to desist from apprehending and detaining Indian fishermen while pursuing their peaceful avocation in traditional fishing waters", she said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Stating that three fishermen and their mechanised fishing boat were apprehended by Sri Lankan Navy on March 23, she said "a decisive shift in the manner of dealing with this sensitive issue is long awaited and is the need of the hour".
"The government of Tamil Nadu strongly reiterates the need to restore the traditional fishing rights of Indian fishermen in Palk Bay by annulling the Indo-Sri Lankan agreements of 1974 and 1976 as the constitutional validity of these agreements have been challenged on extremely valid and legal grounds in the Supreme Court", she said.
The Chief Minister urged the Centre to find "suitable mechanisms" to permanently resolve the long standing issue between Indian fishermen and Sri Lanka by "retrieving Katchatheevu and restoring the traditional fishing rights of our fishermen".
She requested Modi to direct the officials concerned in the External Affairs Ministry to take "concrete" action through diplomatic channels to secure the immediate release of the 102 fishermen and 84 fishing boats.
She said the prolonged detention and disuse of the boats and lack of maintenance would have caused "irretrievable damage to the boats and gear" and reiterated that the fishing boats be restored in refurbished condition at the earliest.