Chief Minister MK Stalin on Monday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi's urgent intervention to stop the proposed auction of over 100 boats belonging to Tamil Nadu fishermen by Sri Lanka and to obtain its concurrence for a proposed visit of state government officials.
Sri Lanka has initiated action for auctioning 105 fishing boats belonging to Tamil Nadu fishermen from February 7 to 11.
"This is not legal and also a matter of grave concern and therefore must be stopped," Mr Stalin said in a letter to PM Modi.
The Chief Minister said that last month he had written to him and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar as well urging 'to finalise the efforts' for the transparent disposal of 125 'unsalvageable' Tamil Nadu boats that were apprehended by Lankan Navy before 2018. Also, he had requested steps to ensure early release of 75 boats and fishing gears seized after 2018.
Following this, the External Affairs Ministry on January 28 informed Tamil Nadu that the matter had been taken up with Lankan authorities. The Centre assured that Lanka would not proceed with the announced auction of fishing boats.
It was said that Sri Lanka also had concurred with the proposed visit of Tamil Nadu officials for this purpose and that they had requested fresh dates.
"The revised date for the visit has since been proposed as 01.03.2022 to 06.03.2022."
Under such circumstances, Lankan government 'going back on its words' and proceeding with the auction without consultation is bound to derail the efforts of the Indian High Commission and the Tamil Nadu government.
"It is pertinent to note that these unsalvageable fishing boats were released by various Sri Lankan courts following due judicial procedure."
Tagging the matter as a burning issue, Mr Stalin requested Modi's 'urgent and personal intervention' to stop the auction of boats proposed by Sri Lanka.
Also the intervention was needed to obtain Lanka's concurrence for the proposed visit of TN officials and stakeholders in connection with both the 125 unsalvageable boats and 75 other boats and fishing gear to protect the livelihood of the state's fishermen, he said.