SL government establishes Coast Guard Department
[TamilNet, Friday, 10 July 2009, 14:00 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Parliament Thursday approved the bill to set up a Coast Guard Department (CGD) under the Ministry of Defence, Public Security and Law and Order replacing the Coast Guard Unit which operated under the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. The bill was passed with amendments.
Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake opened the debate on the bill. He said that an urgent need has risen for such a department to stop illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, taking place in the Sri Lankan waters after the defeat of LTTE and to further secure territorial waters.
“The Department will prevent illegal fishing and poaching by other nationals in Sri Lankan maritime zone", the Premier added.
The Department will be vested with powers to co-operate with the law enforcement agencies and the Armed Forces by taking necessary measures for the suppression of destructive terrorist activities occurring in the maritime zones and the territorial waters of Sri Lanka, he said.
Parliamentarian Mr. John Amaratunge of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) said that his party would support the establishment of the CGD as it was long overdue.
However, he wanted the government to appoint an Army Officer as the head of the newly formed Coast Guard Department instead of a civilian officer.