Cost of Floating Lights and Price of Tamil Lives

(No Money to Protect Tamil Nadu Fishermen from Sri Lankan Navy)

Usha Ramanathan

TAMIL TRIBUNE, December 2009 (ID. 2009-12-02); Updated 2017-003-01 
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1. Introduction

2. Cost of Floating Lights at IMBL

3. Financial Aid to Sri Lankan Economy and Military

4. Money No Problem for India's Northern Defense

1. Introduction

Killings and violent attacks of Tamilnadu fishermen by Sri Lankan navy are going on for a quarter of a century. In spite of repeated requests from Tamilnadu State chief ministers, other political leaders and fishermen's associations, Indian government has done nothing effective to stop these attacks. Attacks go on with impunity.

2. Cost of Floating Lights at IMBL

IMBL - International Maritime Boundary Line. One excuse both the Sri Lankan and the Indian governments gives is that Tamil Nadu fishermen are crossing into Sri Lankan waters. Despite the fact that crossing into their waters does not give Sri Lanka the right to shoot and kill our fishermen, fishermen had asked the Indian government to install floating lights at the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). Indian government's response was that it would be too expensive. How much is the life of a Tamil Nadu fisherman worth to India?

In May 2003, speaking at Mandapam on the Tamil Nadu Coast, Indian Coast Guard Admiral Suresh Mehta said that it would be too expensive to install floating lights on the entire IMBL but may be  installed on critical areas. Alright, we do not need the lights all along IMBL. All we ask is for lights in areas like near Kachchativu where most of the Sri Lankan Navy attacks take place. More than 14 years have gone by since Admiral Suresh Mehta's speech. Where are the lights? Scores of fishermen have been killed and many more injured and millions of Rupees worth of fishing boats and equipment have been damaged. How much is the life of a Tamil Nadu fisherman worth to India? [See Reference 1 for number of fishermen killed.]

3. Financial Aid to Sri Lankan Economy and Military

Within the last ten years India had given billions of Rupees to Sri Lanka. According to a news report in India Times website dated July 15, 2008, "India committed 109.2 million dollars aid to Sri Lanka during the first five months of 2008" (it is about 4 billion Rupees at the currency exchange rate at that time). While giving billions of Rupees to the country that is shooting and killing Tamil Nadu fishermen, India refuses to spend a fraction of that money to fund the installation of floating lights. [The financial aid we mention above was not for the rehabilitation of war-displaced Tamils. That aid was given after the war ended in May 2009. This aid was primarily to beef up the Sri Lankan economy as the Sri Lankan government spent billions of Rupees for the war.]

India was also ready to spend money on beefing up the Sri Lankan military. In 2005 India repaired Trincomalee Naval Base fortifications to help protect Sri Lankan Navy, the same navy that was attacking our fishermen. India gifted five Mi-17 helicopters to Sri Lankan military in 2006. India is funding the reconstruction of Palaly Air Force Base after the war ended in May 2009.  You could install floating lights all across the IMBL for a fraction of that money.

4. Money No Problem for India's Northern Defense

Let us look at it from another angle. It was reported in August 2003 that Indian Coast Guard would spend 7000 crore Rupees (70 billion Rupees) in the next 5 years to buy 15 ships. What is the purpose of these coastguard ships? To protect Indian citizens. India could spend a small fraction of that money to protect the lives of Tamilnadu fishermen. It seems that Tamil life is not worth spending a few million Rupees.

India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced that India-Pakistan border will be completely sealed by December 2018 by using all effective means including technological solutions... the deployment of cameras, sensors, radars, lasers, etc. (Zee News website; October 7, 2016). It is good that India is protecting its northern borders with all means available at great cost. What about the Tamil Nadu fishermen? Are they not Indian citizens? Do they not pay taxes? Is it not your responsibility to protect them? You could install floating lights along the India-Sri Lanka border line with a fraction of the money to be spent at the India-Pakistan border. Don't Tamil Nadu fishermen bleed when they are shot by Sri Lankan Navy? Don't Tamil Nadu fishermen feel pain when they are beaten with sticks by Sri Lankan Navy men?

SUMMARY: India refuses to install floating lights at the boundary with Sri Lanka because of cost. How much is the life of a Tamil Nadu fisherman worth to India?


1. How Many Indian Tamilnadu Fishermen did Sri Lankan Navy Kill? (by Usha Ramanathan), TAMIL TRIBUNE, June 2009 (6 KB)


1. Collection of Articles on Killings of Tamil Nadu Fishermen in the Sea

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