For a few litres more....

[TamilNet, Sunday, 11 March 2001, 14:22 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Navy barred more than eighty fishermen in Pallimunai, a coastal suburb of Mannar town, from setting out to sea since Thursday 8 March for taking in their boats 10 litres of kerosene above the quantity permitted under the unwritten restrictions of the Vanni embargo. A spokesman for the Pallimunai fishermen said Sunday that they had got special permission from the Police for taking the additional 10 litres per boat as they were going to fish in the seas near Iranaithivu and Naachchikudah, more than forty sea miles north of Mannar.

Each sea going fishing boat in Pallimunai is allowed only 35 litres of kerosene for its low horsepower out board motor by the SLN. All boats are checked on the beach by Policemen in the early hours of the morning before putting out to sea. The Navy's punitive actions against Pallimunai fishermen are frequent and arbitrary, sources in Mannar said.

fishermen.jpgAccording to fishermen, Navy vessels had stopped in mid sea nineteen fishing boats that had set out from Pallimunai in the early hours of the morning on Thursday 8 March and sailors had checked their fuel tanks. When they found that the boats had 10 litres of extra kerosene each the fishermen were ordered to go back to Pallimunai despite their telling the Navy personnel that they had got due permission from the Police for the additional fuel.

The Navy then barred the 19 boats from fishing for three days. The affected fishermen lamented that they are losing very valuable catch in the seas of Iranathivu because of the ban.

Fishermen from Pallimunai go towards the Iranathivu seas to the south of Jaffna during this part of the year to catch Parao, a fish that fetches high prices in the Colombo market. Large schools of the fish are found in the seas off Iranathivu, Pallikudah and Nachchikudah during this season, the fishermen said.

A community leader in Pallimunai told Tamilnet that the SLN's punitive attitude towards the Parao fishermen is partly due to corruption than any zeal on its part to prevent the extra 10 litres of kerosene from falling into the hands the Liberation Tigers.

The Navy also appears to resent the involvement of the Police in the affairs of Pallimunai, an area that until recently came under its exclusive control, and the inevitable loss of revenue that accrued to it in the past due to abuse of power and corruption.


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