(Following is the English translation of the document sent by the Mannar GA to Industries Minister Rishad Bathiudeen highlighting the background to the Mannar incident that started in 2002)
Issues relating to fishermen settled in Thottaveli and tying boats belonging to them at the pier.
This report has been prepared based on the meetings held with the representatives of Pallimunai Fishermen Coop Society, Uppukulam Fishermen Coop Society, Panamkattikottu Fishermen Coop Society.
As a result of the disturbance occurred in the country, the fishermen of Vidathaltheevu with their families came to Mannar Island through Pallimunai Village in July 1990.
The Pallimunai villagers provided food for them and directed them to the refugee camps established at Pesalai. While these people were staying in the Pesalai Camp, they were allowed to do fishing through Pallimunai pier for one year.
At the same time, in 1990 due to disturbances that erupted in Mannar island, the Pallimunai fishermen got displaced and moved to Vidathaltheevu. The Pallimunai fishermen were not allowed to do fishing at Vidathaltheevu through their own boats or through the boats belong to fishermen of Vidathaltheevu.
There were instances where the Pallimunai fishermen were not allowed to bring their fishing equipment through Vidathaltheevu pier. As there was continuous difference of opinion between the Pallimunai fishermen and Vidathaltheevu fishermen living in the Pesalai camp, the Vidathaltheevu fishermen were expelled from Pallimunai pier. Thereafter, from May 2000 the displaced Vidathaltheevu fishermen had a discussion with the Panamkattikottu fishermen and commenced doing fishing from Panamkatrtikottu pier.
During this period, the Vidathaltheevu fishermen had difference of opinion and conflict with Panamkattikottu fishermen and as a result in December 2001, the Vidathaltheevu fishermen were expelled from the Panamkattikottu pier.
The Uppukulam and Vidathaltheevu Fishermen Coop Society members under the chairmanship of Sea Tiger area chief Amuthan had a discussion and arrived at a decision that Kondapitty pier belongs to Uppukulam fishermen and until the situation improves with the permission of the Uppukulam Fishermen Coop Society, the Vidalthaltheevu fishermen could engage in fishing activities and without the permission of Uppukulam Fishermen Coop Society, the Vidathaltheevu fishermen cannot establish fishing huts (waadiya).
As the period granted by Uppukulam fishermen to Vidathaltheevu fishermen has expired, the Vidathaltheevu fishermen had to vacate the Uppukulam pier, and on this matter the Asst. Director of Fisheries had a discussion with the Uppukulam Fishermen Coop Society and permission was granted to do fishing upto 10.08.2005.
The Uppukulam Fishermen Coop Society granted further one year to do fishing after Adaikalanathan M.P. had discussions with the representatives of the Uppukulam Fishermen Coop Society at his District Office.
At the request of Asst. Director Fisheries, Mannar and Adaikalanathan M.P., the Sri Lanka Fisheries Harbour Corporation issued a letter allowing the Vidathaltheevu fishermen to tie their boats at Mannar Kondapitty Pier (letter attached).
At a meeting attended by Adaikalanathan M.P., Divisional Secretary, Asst. Director of Fisheries Mannar, Fisheries Inspectors of Vidathaltheevu, representatives of the Uppukulam Fishermen Coop Society and representatives of the Uppukulam Mosque Trustee Board, president over by Government Agent the following decisions were taken:
1. Kondapitty pier belongs to Uppukulam fishermen. On humanitarian grounds, the members of the Vidathaltheevu Fishermen Coop Society to be allowed to do fishing through this pier.
2. In this respect, the Vidathaltheevu Fishermen Coop Society and Uppukulam Fishermen Coop Society should enter an agreement and implement it (agreement attached)
3. The agreement should be renewed annually.
Though the above agreement was prepared as both parties could not agree on certain matters, it was not signed. However, the Uppukulam Society did not bar Vidathaltheevu fishermen doing fishing there.
At a meeting chaired by Government Agent to discuss about Uppukulam village, the Kondapitty pier was discussed as item 12 and it transpired that issues between Uppukulam fishermen and Vidathaltheevu fishermen had been temporarily resolved.
When the Minister of Fisheries visited Mannar, the Uppukulam fishermen handed over an appeal seeking the assistance on the Minister to settle the Kodapitty pier issue (letter attached).
In response to the appeal handed over to the Minister of Fisheries by Uppukulam fishermen, on the advice of the Asst. Director of Fisheries, a meeting was convened on 03.11.2011 in the presence of the President of the Federation of Mannar District Fishermen Association and representatives of Pallimunai Fishermen Society, Uppukulam Fishermen Society, Erukalampiddy Fishermen Society, Panamkattikottu Fishermen Society and the following decisions were taken:
1. During the period when Erukalampiddy and Uppukulam fishermen were displaced to Kalpity, the Kalpity fishermen did not allow the Erukkalampiddy/Uppukulam fishermen to do fishing there, they came to Mannar and did fishing through piers at Mannar. Similarly, the Vidathaltheevu fishermen also should get back to Vidathaltheevu and engage in their fishing.
2. This decision should be conveyed to fishermen settled in Thotaveli (accordingly this decision was immediately conveyed to Vidathaltheevu fishermen settled in Thotaveli).
3. The Vidathaltheevu fishermen who are settled in Thotaveli and carrying out their fishing through Kodapitty pier should remove their fishing equipment on or before 30.11.2011.
Though these decisions were conveyed to Vidathaltheevu fishermen living at Thotaveli, they continued to carry on their fishing activities through Kondapitty pier.
Consequent to continuous pressure exerted by Uppukulam fishermen, a meeting was convened at the Office of the Suptd. Of Police, Mannar on 07.06.2012 and attended by representatives of the Vidathaltheevu fishermen settled in Thotaveli and Uppukulam fishermen. After exchange of various views and ideas, it was decided that a meeting should be convened on 11.06.2012 under the chairmanship of Government Agent and issues to be resolved.
The representatives of Vidathaltheevu fishernen settled in Thotaveli and of Uppukulam fishermen met the Government Agent. As the Divisional Secretary, Mannar and Asst. Director of Fisheries had not attended the meeting, after exchange of views and ideas, it was decided to convene a meeting at the office of the Divisional Secretary, Mannar on 15.06.2012. (Minutes attached).
As this issue has not been resolved during the last 10 years the Asst. Director Fisheries directed that until the anchorage area (Paadu) is resurveyed and allocated, the Vidathaltheevu fishermen settled in Thotaveli should go to Vidathaltheevu and engage in fishing. At this meeting as the issue relating to anchorage area (Paadu) is considered a vital one, Pallimunai and Panamkattikottu fishermen associations were asked to provide temporary facilities to Vidathaltheevu fishermen settled in Thotaveli by the Divisional Secretary, Mannar Town.
As no constructive decision has been taken at this meeting, it was decided to convene a meeting under the chairmanship of Government Agent soon.
A meeting was held under the chairmanship of Government Agent at Kachcheri. The following attended the meeting:
1. Asst. District Secretary
2. Divisional Secretary, Mannar Town
3. Asst. Director, Fisheries
4. Senior Supdt. Of Police
5. Officers of the Thallady Army Headquarters
6. Rev. Fr. Thotaveli
7. President Federation of Mannar District
8. Representatives of Uppukulam Fishermen Coop Society
9. Representatives of Panamkattikottu Fishermen Coop Society
10. Representatives of Erukalampiddy Fishermen Coop Society
11. Representatives of Pallimunai Fishermen Coop Society
12. Representatives of Thotaveli Fishermen Village Organization
1) Permission is granted to put up temporary huts along the sea beach 100 meters long belonging to Coastal Conservative Dept., behind the building of Youth Service Organization which is situated 3 kilometers from Mannar Town and fishermen of Thotaveli to tie their boats at lagoons where Panamkattikottu and Periyakamam fishermen do their fishing activities (in terms of Coastal Maintenance Act No. 67 of 1981).
2) The permission granted to Thotaveli fishermen is temporary and is valid only upto the surveying and allocated.
3) The temporary permission granted Thotaveli fishermen to tie the boats at the allocated anchorage area. Their fishing activities should be carried out at Vidathaltheevu sea area.
4) The Vidathaltheevu fishermen should not behave in a manner detrimental to Panamkattikottu, Pallimunai, Erukkalampiuddy and Periyagamam fishermen during the period Thotaveli fishermen are allowed to tie their boats in the anchorage areas.
5) The permission granted to Thotaveli fishermen will be cancelled, if it is proved they are found obstructing other fishermen engaged in fishing activities. The Vidathaltheevu fishermen should clean the new temporary areas immediately and engage in fishing activities and they should not use the Kondapity pier.
Following this the new temporary anchorage area allocated to Vidathaltheevu fishermen has been claimed by Erukkalampiddy and Tharapuram fishermen as their area of fishing activities and they brought their boats the Thotaveli fishermen could not engage in any activities at the temporary anchorage areas allocated to them.
Without giving any prior notice the Vidathaltheevu fishermen settled in Thotaveli had gone for fishing through Kondapitty pier on 12.07.2012 and 13.07.2012. On 13.07.2012 at about 2pm the people of Uppukulam came to the anchorage area and asked the Vidathaltheevu fishermen to remove the huts.
During this dispute, the huts were demolished but no damage had been caused to their goods and equipments. At this stage the Police came to the scene and Uppukulam people left the place.
Asst. Director of Fisheries