Act immediately against Sri Lanka’s Fisheries Bill, Vaiko urges Centre

‘Legislation gives sweeping powers to Navy and is detrimental to Indian fishers’

MDMK general secretary Vaiko has urged the Centre to immediately lodge its protest with the Sri Lankan government over the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Amendment) Bill, saying it would be detrimental to the traditional fishing rights of Indians. He has also called on the Central government to ensure that the island nation withdrew the ‘controversial’ provisions of the Bill.

Speaking to reporters here on Friday, Mr. Vaiko said the proposed law, which had the approval of the Sri Lankan government’s Cabinet, would give more powers to the Sri Lankan Navy personnel to arrest Indian fishermen and seize trawlers and fishing nets. Above all, the Sri Lankan officials would impose hefty fines and harsher jail terms. The law, he alleged, was being brought in to stop fishermen of the Indian region from engaging in fishing.

Apprehending such a move, Mr. Vaiko said he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi as early as in July 2017 and impressed upon him the need to convey to his Sri Lankan counterpart the consequences that fishermen may face in the future if such proposals were implemented.

Conveys condolences

The MDMK leader offered his condolences to the family of Manikandan, the cab driver who immolated himself after he was allegedly roughed up by the traffic police in Chennai for not wearing his seat belt. “The policemen concerned should be booked and the State government should pay ₹10 lakh to the bereaved family as compensation,” he said.

To a query on the controversy surrounding the Kanchi Mutt, whose seer was seen seated when the Tamil invocation song was played during a recent event, prompting allegations that he had shown disrespect, with various political parties demanding an apology, Mr. Vaiko said an expression of regret by the junior pontiff of the Kanchi Mutt would put an end to the row.

The Edappadi K. Palaniswami-led government had failed miserably on all fronts, and the bus fare hike was a classic example of how not to run a State, he said, and demanded a rollback of the ‘unfair’ and ‘abnormal’ hike in bus fares.