Government today urged fishermen of Sri Lanka and India, who will meet in Chennai on January 20, to participate in the talks with all seriousness to resolve the dispute over fishing rights in each other’s territorial waters.
“This is a problem that can be solved if there is goodwill and give-and-take on both sides. We are confident that a solution can be found,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters here.
He also attacked the Tamil Nadu government for “not cooperating” for quite sometime and causing “delay” in finalising the dates for the talks.
Replying to questions, he said fishermen’s associations “must meet and work out” ways to resolve the problem.
There was a “wrong impression” that all Indian fishermen, detained by the Sri Lankan Navy, were not being released. “In fact, hundreds of Indian fishermen detained (by Sri Lanka) have been released. India also detains Sri Lankan fishermen,” Chidambaram said.
In a letter to the Prime Minister earlier this week, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had said her government would extend all help to the Centre to facilitate the January 20 talks between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen.
She had also attacked the Centre for its “meek and weak” response to repeated instances of attacks on the fishermen in their traditional waters had emboldened Sri Lankan Navy.
Frequent arrests of Tamil fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy for maritime violations has been a bone of contention between the Centre and the state and also threatened to strain Indo-Lanka relations. (Outlook India)