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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2590

Hands off Katchativu

By K.T.Rajasingham

The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Muthuvel Karunanidhi recently when referring Katchativu, has said "When the proposal for "gifting" of Katchativu to the island nation was made by the then Indra Gandhi Government in 1974, the DMK Government in Tamil Nadu has opposed it vehemently." It has become customary for the Indian leaders and scribes to use the word "gifting" whenever they refer to Katchativu, which is an integral part Sri Lanka, a sovereign independent nation. W.T.Jayasinghe, the former Sri Lanka Foreign Secretary (1972 to 1989) and one of the key officials who participated in the Sri Lankan delegation in the negotiation of Indo – Sri Lanka maritime borders wrote in the preface of his book:"Katchativu: And The Maritime Boundary of Sri Lanka," regarding the subject of "Gifting Katchattivu to Sri Lanka" as referred mischievously by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister as follows:By K.T.Rajasingham

The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Muthuvel Karunanidhi recently when referring Katchativu, has said "When the proposal for gifting of Katchativu to the island nation was made by the then Indra Gandhi Government in 1974, the DMK Government in Tamil Nadu has opposed it vehemently."

It has become customary for the Indian leaders and scribes to use the word gifting whenever they refer to Katchativu, which is an integral part Sri Lanka, a sovereign independent nation.Map of KatchativuMap of Katchativu

W.T.Jayasinghe , the former Sri Lanka Foreign Secretary (1972 to 1989) and one of the key officials who participated in the Sri Lankan delegation in the negotiation of Indo – Sri Lanka maritime borders wrote in the preface of his book: Katchativu: And The Maritime Boundary of Sri Lanka, regarding the subject of Gifting Katchattivu to Sri Lanka as referred mischievously by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister as follows:

"I was prompted to write a book on Katchativu, in order to dispel the misconceptions that India "gifted" or "ceded" Katchativu to Sri Lanka, through goodwill and in the interests of our bilateral relations. Such view is held understandably, in South India, even in Sri Lanka, and in circles who should be better informed.

The Oxford Dictionary defines gift as "voluntary transference of property without consideration." Katchativu was at no time the property of India, as Sri Lanka had been exercising sovereignty over the island from early times. India, however, did make a claim to Katchativu, which she withdrew when facts were presented to the Government in New Delhi and she recognized Sri Lanka’s sovereignty over the island. There was also 'consideration' in that both Sri Lanka and India resolved the issue of Katchativu in a sprit of compromise and "give and take". This book was published by the author in the year 2003.

The book describes how Sri Lanka maritime boundary was negotiated between Sri Lanka and India. The author who was involved in these negotiations brings to bear an intimate knowledge of the progress of the talks and provided the first detailed account of the negotiations.

However, a person of the stature of Karunanidhi making sarcastic remarks such as "gifting Katchativu to Sri Lanka" is something highly objectionable. The issue of gifting never arises when it has been already agreed by the Government of India that Katchativu as an integral part of the sovereign nation of Sri Lanka.

When India received its independence in August 1947, it ceded a large portion of its land space, which resulted in the creation of the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Subsequently, there have been three major wars, (1) Indo-Pakistani War of 1947: (2) Indo – Pakistan War of 1965, (3) Indo – Pakistan War of 1971, and a minor war - The Kargil war of 1999. The Indian leaders who now ask for the reconsideration of the Maritime boundary agreement between India and Sri Lanka, have never demanded the annexation of Pakistan back which was earlier a part of India whenever Pakistan attacked India.

But many Tamil Nadu politicians including Karunanidhi, the Tamil Nadu opposition leader Jayalalithaa and the other minions always, when speaking, they speak of a non existent "Katchativu Agreement." This shows the shallowness of their grasp of international affairs.

India and Sri Lanka entered two agreements on the maritime borders of both countries:

1. Agreement between Sri Lanka and India on the boundary in historical waters between the two countries and related matters. – June 1974

2. Agreement Between Sri Lanka and India on the boundary between the two countries in the Gulf of Mannar and Bay of Bengal and related matters March 1976

The second Agreement was entered between India and Sri Lanka which delimited boundaries in the Gulf of Mannar, and in the Bay Bengal to the west and east of the boundary line already delimited in 1974.

There was also an ‘Exchange of Letter’ between Kewal Singh, Foreign Secretary to the Government of India and WT Jayasinghe , Secretary to Ministry of Defence and Foreign Affairs, Government of Sri Lanka dated 23 March 1976, and was held by the then India’s Minister for External Affairs Y.B.Chavan as "constitute an agreement between the two countries."

The waters in the Palk Strait, Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar are considered by the Government of India and Sri Lanka as 'Historic Waters.'

The 1974 Agreement was prepared to be signed simultaneously by the two Prime Ministers - one in Colombo and other in New Delhi. Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike signed her copy in the morning of 26 June 1974. Then the signed copy was taken to New Delhi and Indira Gandhi signed it on the 28th June 1974. A similar exercise was carried out also in the Agreement entered in 1976. Indira Gandhi signed her copy on the 26th March 1976, in New Delhi and Mrs. Srimavo Bandatanaike placed her signature on the 28th of March 1976.

Regarding the determination of the 'Maritime Boundary', according to a joint press statement issued on 28 June 1974, "…As a result of this joint examination, a boundary in Palk Bay has been defined in conformity with the historical evidence, legal international principles and precedents. This boundary falls one mile off the coast of uninhabited island of Katchativu, while mutually satisfactory provisions have been made regarding navigations, pilgrimage and mineral exploration in they are … Accordingly, the Western side of the boundary line was the exclusive fishery rights of the Indian fishermen and the Eastern side of the boundary line is the exclusive fishery rights of Sri Lankan fishermen."

1974 Agreement finally reconfirmed the sovereign rights of Sri Lanka over the Island of Katchativu. However Article V of the 1974 Agreement states:

"Subject to the foregoing, Indian fisherman and pilgrims will enjoy access to visit Katchativu as hitherto, and will not be required by Sri Lanka to obtain travel documents or visas for these purposes.

But the 1976 Agreement did away with the concessions given in Article 5 of the 1974 Agreement. The 1976 Agreement delimited the boundaries in the Gulf of Mannar and in the Bay of Bengal to the west and east of the boundary line already delimited in 1974.

The letters exchanged between the two secretaries on 23 March 1976, Paragraph 1 reads as follows: "With the establishment of the exclusive economic zones by the two countries, India and Sri Lanka will exercise sovereign rights over the living and non-living resources of their respective zone. The fishing vessels and fishermen of India shall not engage in fishing in the historic waters, the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone of Sri Lanka nor shall the fishing vessels and fishermen of Sri Lanka engage in fishing in the historic waters, the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone of India, without the express permission of Sri Lanka or India, as the case may be.

1. AGREEMENT BETWEEN INDIA AND SRI LANKA ON TEH BOUNDARY IN HISTORIC WATERS BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES AND RELATED MATTERS.

The Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Republic of Sri Lanka,

Desiring to determine the boundary line in the historic waters between India and Sri Lanka and to settle the related matters in a manner which is fair and equitable to both sides,

Having examined the entire question from all angles and taken into account the historical and other evidence and legal aspects thereof,

Have agreed as follows:

ARTICLE 1

The boundary between India and Sri Lanka in the waters from Adam’s Bridge to Palk Strait shall be arcs of Great Circles between the following positions, in the sequence given below, defined by latitude and longitude:

Position 1 : 10° 05’ North, 80° 03’ East
Position 2 : 09° 57’ North, 79° 35’ East
Position 3 : 09° 40.15’ North, 79° 22.60’ East
Position 4 : 09° 21.80’ North, 79° 30.70’ East
Position 5 : 09° 13’ North, 79° 32’ East
Position : 09° 06’ North, 79° 32’ East

ARTICLE 2

The coordinates of the positions specified in Article I are geographical coordinates and the straight lines connecting them are indicated in the chart annexed hereto which has been signed by the surveyors authorized by the two Government, respectively.

ARTICLE 3

The actual location of the aforementioned positions at sea and on the seabed shall be determined by a method to be mutually agreed upon by the surveyors authorized for the purpose by the two Governments, respectively.

ARTICLE 4

Each country shall have sovereignty and exclusive jurisdiction and control over the waters, the islands, the continental shelf and the subsoil thereof, falling on its own side of the aforesaid boundary.

ARTICLE 5

Subject to the foregoing, Indian fisherman and pilgrims will enjoy access to visit Kachchativu as hitherto, and will not be required by Sri Lanka to obtain travel documents or visas for these purposes.

ARTICLE 6

The vessels of India and Sri Lanka will enjoy in each other’s waters such rights as they have traditionally enjoyed therein.

ARTICLE 7

If any single geological petroleum or natural gas structure or field, or any single geological structure or field of any other mineral deposit, including sand or gravel, extends across the boundary referred to in Article 1 and the part of such structure or field which is situated on side of the boundary, is exploited, in whole or in part, from the other side of the boundary, the two countries shall seek to reach agreement as to the manner in which the structure or field shall be most effectively exploited and the manner in which the proceeds deriving there from shall be appointed.

ARTICLE 8

This agreement shall be subject to ratification. It shall enter into force on the date of exchange of the instruments of the ratification which will take place as soon as possible.

For the Government of the For the Government of
Republic of India the Republic of Sri Lanka
Sd/ - Indira Gandhi Sd/- Srimavo R.D.Bandaranaike
New Delhi 28 June 1974 Colombo 26 June 1974

2. AGREEMENT BETWEEN INDIA AND SRI LANKA ON THE MARITIME BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES IN TEH GULF OF MANAAR AND THE BAY OF BENGAL AND RELATED MATTERS

The Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Republic of Sri Lanka,

RECALLING that the boundary in the Palk Strait has been settled by the Agreement between the Republic of India and the Republic of Sri Lanka on the boundary in Historic Waters between the Two Countries and Related Matters, signed on 26/28 June 1974,

AND DESIRING TO extend that boundary by determining the maritime boundary between the two countries in the Gulf of Manaar and the Bay of Bengal,

HAVE AGREED as follows:

ARTICLE I

The maritime boundary between India and Sri Lanka in the Gulf of Manaar shall be arcs of Great Circles between the following positions, in the sequence given below, defined by latitude and longitude:

Position 1 m : 09° 06’, 0 N., 79° 32’.0 E
Position 2 m : 09° 00’.0 N., 79° 31’. E
Position 3 m : 08° 53’.0 N., 79° 29’.3 E
Position 4 m : 08° 40’.0N. 79° 18’.2 E
Position 5 m : 08° 37’.2 N., 79° 13’.0 E
Position 6 m : 08° 31’.2 N., 79° 04’.7 E
Position 7 m : 08 22’.2 N., 78° 55’.4 E
Position 8 m : 08° 12’.2 N., 78° 53’.7 E
Position 9 m : 07° 35’.3 N., 78° 45’.7 E
Position 10 m: 07° 21’.0 N., 78° 38’.8 E
Position 11 m: 06° 30’.8 N., 71° 12’.2 E
Position 12 m: 05° 53’.9 N., 77° 10’.6 E
Position 13 m: 05° 00’. N., 77° 10’.6 E

The extension of the boundary beyond Position 13m will be done subsequently.

ARTICLE II

The maritime boundary between India and Sri Lanka in the Bay of Bengal shall be arcs of Great Circles between the following positions, in the sequence given below, defined by latitude and longitude:

Position 1 b : 10°05’.0 N., 80°03’.0 E
Position1ba : 10°05’.9 N., 80°05.0 E
Positon1bb : 10°08’.4 N., 80°09’5 E
Position 2 b : 10°33’.0 N., 80°46’.0 E
Position 3 b : 10°31’.7 N., 81°02’.5 E
Position 4 b : 11°02’. N., 81°56’.0 E
Position 5 b : 11°16’.0 N., 82°22’.0 E

ARTICLE III

The coordinates of the positions specified in Articles I and II are geographical coordinates and the straight lines connecting them are indicated in the chart annexed hereto, which has been signed by the surveyors duly authorized by the two Governments respectively.

ARTICLE IV

The actual location at sea and on the seabed of the positions specified in Articles I and II shall be determined by a method to be mutually agreed upon by the surveyors authorized for the purpose by the two Governments, respectively.

ARTICLE V

1. Each Party shall have sovereignty over the historic waters and territorial sea, as well as over the islands, falling on its side of the aforesaid boundary.

2. Each Party shall have sovereign rights and exclusive jurisdiction over the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zone as well as over their resources, whether living or non-living, falling on its side of the aforesaid boundary.

3. Each Party shall respect rights of navigation through its territorial sea and exclusive economic zone in accordance with its law and regulations and the rules of international law.

ARTICLE VI

If any single geological petroleum or natural gas structure or field, or any single geological structure or field of any mineral deposit, including sand or gravel, extends across the boundary referred to in Articles I and II and the Part of such structure or filed which is situated on one side of the boundary is exploited, in whole or in part, from the other side of the boundary, the two countries shall seek to reach agreement as to the manner in which the structure or field shall be most effectively exploited and the manner in which the proceeds deriving there from shall be apportioned.

ARTICLE VII

The Agreement shall be subject to ratification. It shall enter into force on the date of exchange of instruments of ratification which shall take place soon as possible.

Sd/ - Kewal Singh Sd/- W.T. Jayasinghe
For the Government of the For the Government of
Republic of India the Republic of Sri Lanka

New Delhi: 23 March 1976.

3. Letter from Kewal Singh, Foreign Secretary to the Government of India to W.T. Jayasinghe, Secretary in the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Affairs, Government of Sri Lanka dated March 23, 1976.

Ministry of External Affairs,
New Delhi.
23rd March 1976

Excellency,

An Agreement has been concluded between India and Sri Lanka on Maritime Boundary between the two countries in the Gulf of Manaar and the Bay of Bengal and Related Matters which was signed on 23 March 1976. Our two Governments have also exchanged views on the substance of our proposed maritime legislation. With the establishment of the exclusive economic zones by the two countries, India and Sri Lanka will exercise sovereign rights over the living and non-living resources of their respective zone. The fishing vessels and fishermen of India shall not engage in fishing in the historic waters, the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone of Sri Lanka nor shall the fishing vessels and fishermen of Sri Lanka engage in fishing in the historic waters, the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone of Indi, without the express permission of Sri Lanka or India, as the case may be. In this connection, the following understanding has been reached between our two Governments in respect of fishing in the Wadge Bank:

1. The Wadge Bank which is located near Cape Comorin the general description and outline of which is given in the enclosed note and chart lies within the exclusive economic zone of India and India shall have sovereign rights over the area and its resources.

2. The fishing vessels of Sri Lanka and persons on board these vessels shall not engage in fishing in the Wadge Bank. However, at the request of the Government of Sri Lanka and as a gesture of goodwill, the Government of India agrees that Sri Lanka fishing vessels duly licensed by the Government of India may engage in fishing in the Wadge Bank for a period of three years from the date of establishment by India of its exclusive economic zone. It is agreed that the number of Sri Lanka fishing vessels shall not exceed six, and their fish catch in the Wadge Bank shall not exceed two thousand tones, in any one year. At the expiry of this period, Sri Lanka vessels shall cease to fish in the Wadge Bank.

3. The fishing by Sri Lanka vessels in the Wadge Bank shall be subject to the terms and conditions, including the fees to be charged, specified by the Government of India and to inspection and control by the Indian authorities. The Sri Lanka fishing vessels shall comply with these terms and conditions.

4. If the Government of India decides to explore the Wadge Bank of petroleum and other mineral resources during the period mentioned in sub-paragraph (2), the Government of India shall notify to the Government of Sri Lanka the zones reserved for such exploration and the date of commencement of exploration. Sri Lanka fishing vessels shall terminate fishing activity, if any, in these zones with effect from the date of commencement of exploration.

5. The facility allowed to the Sri Lanka fishing vessels and person on board those vessels is restricted to the fishing vessels owned by the Government of Sri Lanka or by a Sri Lanka company or its nationals. This facility shall not be transferable to any other State or its vessels or nationals.

6. At the request of the Government of Sri Lanka, the Government of India agree to provide annually to Sri Lanka two thousand tones of fish of the quality and species and at the price to be mutually agreed upon between the two Governments, for a period of five years with effect from the date of cessation of fishing activity by Sri Lanka vessels in the Wadge Bank as stipulated in sub-para (2).

7. The Government of Sri Lanka, upon terms to make available to the Government of Sri Lanka, upon terms and conditions to the agreed upon between the two Governments, technical assistance for the development of Sri Lanka’s fisheries arising from the diversion of Sri Lanka’s fishing vessels from the Wadge Bank.

I shall be grateful if you kindly confirm that the above sets out correctly the understanding reached between our two Governments. On receipt of your letter confirming this understanding, the understanding embodied in this letter shall constitute an Agreement between our two Governments.

Accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.Wadge BankWadge Bank

Sd/ - Kewal Singh
Foreign Secretary to the Government of India

Notes:

Description of the Wadge Bank

The Wadge Bank is situated to the South of Cape Comorin and lies generally between latitutdes 7°10'N and 8°00'N and longitudes 76°40'E and 78°00E, but outside the territorial waters of India. The Bank shelves gradually upto 200 metres depth with its most extensive flattening in an East West direction between the 50 metres and 100 metres contours. The sea bed consists of sand and shell and is rocky in places.

- Asian Tribune -

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