Minister gives ear to Mannar fishermen’s wartime loss of 81 boats | Daily News

Minister gives ear to Mannar fishermen’s wartime loss of 81 boats

Minister P. Harrison alights after testing a farmer’s tractor in Mannar, while Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and farmers look on.
Minister P. Harrison alights after testing a farmer’s tractor in Mannar, while Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and farmers look on.

Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Irrigation and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister P. Harrison assured Mannar fisher-folk that he will take up the matter of the 81 ocean boats seized by the South Indian Ocean Patrol/Guards in the 1980s.

These 81 boats were fitted with outboard motors at the time they were confiscated in Indian waters due to the ongoing war, the fishermen told the Minister, who assured them that he would take up the matter of the boats in the coming weeks with NARA and NAQDA officials, in meetings to be held in Colombo.

On the invitation and request of Vanni District MP and Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister Harrison toured Mannar on August 26 and met fishermen and farmers.

Minister Harrison also launched several farmer support 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 long hours and listened to their issues and discussed them. He also launched several projects for the farmers. We thank him for his interest in the Mannar people’s issues,” said Vanni District MP and Industry, Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons, Cooperative Development, Skills Development & Vocational Training Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.

There are around 1,000 fisher families in the Vankalai area of Mannar. These fishermen informed the Minister of the issues they faced, such as illegal fishing by foreign fishermen. They also voiced their need for a new sea sand belt that would prevent heavy erosion of their beaches and called for a new fishery harbour in Pesalai.

Farmers and fishermen praised both Ministers for their initiatives to resolve their issues by meeting them at their own locations. “There are more than 1,000 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 Venkalai fisherman Rajan Mark. “The loss of the 81 boats to Indian authorities in the 1980s 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. This is a key request that we made to both Ministers today.”

Minister Harrison also commissioned ground water pumps at the Marichchikatti Agrarian Services Centre that was completed in 2010 but was held back due to an issue over its land. Another Agrarian Services Centre was also opened in Vilankulama on the same day.


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