Fishermen forced to pay into development fund
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 10 March 1999, 13:03 GMT]
Fishermen in the coastal settlements of Supparmadam, Kottady, Thumbalai and Munai in Pt.Pedro in Jaffna refused today to comply with an order by the Sri Lankan Army's Pt.Pedro town commander, Col.Chandrawansa, and the Pt.Pedro Urban Council chairman, S.Wijeyaratnam, to pay part of their incomes to the Urban Council's development fund.
The town commander told the fishermen that the army will ban them from fishing off the coast if they refused to pay up to the UC fund.
Col.Chandrawansa and the UC chairman (PLOTE) convened a meeting today for all the fishermen's societies and co-operatives on the coastal parts of Pt.Pedro to warn them and to impress upon them the need to pay.
The PLOTE UC chairman Wijeyaratnam (alias Chellakili Master) had asked the fishermen's co-operatives and federations in the area last week that they should pay a portion of their incomes monthly to a development fund that he claims to have established for the improvement of the town.
The fishermen had refused to oblige him on the grounds that they were already paying taxes to the Urban Council.
Angered by the Pt.Pedro fishermen's refusal to pay up, Sellakili Master had sought the assistance of the Pt.Pedro Police yesterday to warn people at Munai that they should comply with the UC chairman's order.
Leaders of the fishermen's organisations said this afternoon that they are contemplating legal action if Sellakilli Master continues to demand money from them.
They said that the SLA had no authority to intervene on behalf of the UC chairman in civil matters like the levying of money for an unauthorised fund.