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Coast Guard withdraws controversial idea after Jaya criticism

[MISC, Friday, 9 December 2011 08:29 No Comment]

(PTI) Against the backdrop of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa”s strong criticism of its controversial suggestion, Coast Guard today withdrew a portion from its counter affidavit before the Madras High Court that recommended a No Fishing Zone of five nautical miles along the Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime Border Line.

In an affidavit filed before the high court bench here, the Deputy Director General of Coast Guard on behalf of the Union Government said that respondents including the Union of India "want to remove para 13 along with its contents from the said additional counter affidavit. Kindly be removed from the additional counter affidavit and order or directions may be passed accordingly".

Jayalalithaa had on November 26 termed the Coast Guard”s stand in the high court on the fishermen issue as "outrageous" and had sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh”s intervention to rectify it before any "irredeemable damage" was done.

She said Indian fishermen traditionally enjoyed fishing rights since "time immemorial," in the waters of Palk Bay without any geographical or political boundaries.

The bench had on October 14 given an interim order to the Centre to take, within 10 days, immediate safety measures by deploying sufficient number of Coast Guard vessels, supervised by senior Indian Navy officials to ensure that Indian fishermen, particularly Tamil fishermen, were not subjected to alleged atrocities by Sri Lankan navy while exercising their right.

Praying to vacate its interim order, on November 16, V S R Murthy, Deputy Director General of Coast Guard, had filed an additional counter affidavit suggesting formation of a No Fishing Zone along Indo-Sri Lanka International Maritime Boundary Line, with punitive measures for defaulters.

He had pointed to the example of Gujarat, which had put in place such a zone along five nautical miles on Indo-Pak IMBL. Similar strict orders are needed for this IMBL to avoid illegal cross border fishing, the affidavit had said.

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