Against the backdrop of attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen allegedly by Sri Lankan Navy, the Centre has come out with some proposals which included making Katchatheevu a trade centre where Indian and Lankan traders could barter their products and sign various trade pacts. "We are informally thinking, at the central government, to moot the idea of making Katchatheevu a trade centre, like the Pragati Maidan in Delhi, to Sri Lanka. Once a trade centre is established there, ferries could be operated," Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, E M Sudarsana Natchiappan told reporters here. In olden days Indian and Lankan fishermen used to barter their produce and goods during the St Antony festival at Katchatheevu, he said after inaugurating a Cereals, Pulses,and Staples Cluster here. Katchatheevu, an islet in the Palk Straits, is in the limelight with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa moving the Supreme Court seeking to declare as unconstitutional the agreement under which it was ceded to Sri Lanka in 1974. In response to the plea, the Centre in its recent affidavit has said no territory belonging to the country was ceded nor sovereignty relinquished. The minister said during two rounds of talks between the fishermen of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka there had been an informal arrangement that the fishermen should not be attacked, and even if they were arrested, the Government should be informed.
A suggestion mooted was that the respective fishermen could fish on alternative days so that both could be benefited. The Centre has sought the state's cooperation to complete the Mukaiyur Fishing Harbour project. Once it was constructed, Indian fishermen would be able to net fish in Indian territorial waters itself, he said. The Minister said ferry service between Tuticorin and Talaimannar would recommence shortly, and some Jetty works and customs infrastructure facilities were required, and for this also "We depend on state government's cooperation.