24th January 2012, www.adaderana.lk
Former President of India, A.P.J.Abdul Kalam suggested that deep sea fishing, and fishing in turns in the Palk Bay, as possible solutions to resolve the contentious fisheries issue that India and Sri Lanka have been grappling with for the past few years.
Mr.Kalam, who hails from the fishing hamlet of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, pointed out that “a very small country in Europe” had a per capita income of US $ 40,000 because its fishermen had resorted to deep sea fishing in a major way, while Sri Lanka had a per capita income of about $ 3000 and India, about $ 2000. He suggested that if Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen took to deep sea fishing, they would earn more and contribute better to the economies of their countries.
Mr.Kalam, who is on a four-day visit to Sri Lanka, had discussed this and many other issues with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mr.Kalam had come here to take part in the launch of the tri-lingual initiative, aimed at making the next generation Sri Lankans fluent in Sinhala, Tamil and English. Mr.Kalam said that he had discussed the fishermen problem with the President. “I come from the fishermen area in Rameswaram. So, I know their problems,” he said
Mr.Kalam, the most prominent Tamil to visit Sri Lanka since the visit of Carnatic vocalist T.M.Krishna, said that he had also discussed empowering the various provinces with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa based on the 13 Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution. “How the empowerment can take place constitutionally…We had a discussion on this,” he said.
Asked for his impressions from the visit, he said that he could see that there was progress in development works. “The beginning has been made with the Trilingual mission. So many reforms, empowerment to the various provinces particularly North and the East, I hope will take place, with both governments working together. They are thick friends, I suppose,” he was quoted as saying by The Hindu.
Mr.Kalam said that the reaction to his suggestion that the concept of PURA (Provision for Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) was good. Many Ministers and others felt that this could be carried out in the 40,000 Sri Lankan villages. “I personally believe that… the Sarvodaya movement here, and the PURA can be integrated and work together to build the 40,000 villages,” he said.