Jaffna fishermen have expressed their concerns against the Sri Lankan government’s move to permit Chinese firms to establish a renewable energy system in three islands located off the Jaffna peninsula.
“It is understood that three islands of Jaffna district have been given to foreign countries to establish electric power facilities. Be it to any organisation in India or China, we representatives of Jaffna District Fishermen Association can never allow it,” Varnakulasingam, a representative of Jaffna Fishermen Association, said at a joint press conference at the Mullaitivu District Seaworkers Cooperative Association on Saturday.
“Whether it is India or China, they will exert control there and our fishermen will be pushed below the poverty line,” he added.
“Already it can be seen that Indian fishermen, due to their illegal entry, have started doing business. If they take up residence here, it will be all the more dangerous. So, we can never allow a decision to cede the islands to foreign countries.”
Another Jaffna fisherman, A. Annarasa, expressed similar reservations against the permission given to China. Referring to the Chinese energy projects, Annarasa said, “We can never allow such an activity.”
“The President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka must intervene and stop such moves to cede islands to foreign countries and ensure that we engage freely in our work and live at peace in our province,” he added.
The Sri Lankan government granted permission to China for building energy projects in Neduntheevu (Delft Island), Analativu and Nainativu last month, as Sri Lanka continues to award China with large scale projects. This act elicited a “strong protest” from neighbouring India as New Delhi fears growing Chinese presence in its backdoor.