Valvettithurai fishermen to defy SLA order
[TamilNet, Sunday, 28 September 2003, 15:49 GMT]
The Fisheries Co-operative Society officials in Athikoviladi, Valvettithurai, Sunday said they would commence work Monday on micro breakwater for mooring fishing boats and deepening boat mooring space inside these, regardless of whether the Sri Lanka Army allows it. The SLA had Thursday stopped the fishermen from starting the work, fisheries sources said.
The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission officials have asked the co-operative society officials not to commence work on the project till 10 a.m. Monday until they speak to SLA and bring about an amicable solution to the problem.
However, the President of the Athikoviladi Fishermen's Cooperative Society, Mr. Selliah Kuttithamby, told TamilNet that the Society would commence the work on the project at 11 a.m. Monday even if the SLA stopped the work.
"We obtained the approval of the army to construct five micro-breakwaters and to deepen the boat mooring area inside these. The Northeast Community Restoration and Development (NECORD) project provided 2.5 million rupees
(26,000 USD) for the work," said an official of the Federation of Fishermen's Societies in Jaffna.
The Asian Development Bank(ADB) funding for the NECORD project was aimed at developing mooring and landing facilities for fishermen on the long neglected Vadamaradchi coast, fisheries officials in Jaffna said.
Before the war, the Vadamaradchi coast fisheries produced one of the highest volumes of catch in Sri Lanka. The industry is in great doldrums due to years of bans and draconian restrictions on fishing, some of which are yet to be lifted or eased.
Point Pedro, the main harbour on this coast, is out of bounds for local fishermen.Their boats are now moored inside shallows created by primitive micro breakwaters formed by coral reefs of the Vadamaradchi coast.
"The NECORD project to construct proper breakwaters and to deepen the boat mooring area would have provided a boost to the fisheries industry here," said Mr. Kuttithamby.
The Sri Lanka military did not give reasons for stopping the work, he added.