The navies of India and Sri Lanka have decided to work out a concrete mechanism to pre-empt any problems when the ferry service is launched between the two countries within a few weeks.
It was in the agenda of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) meeting between the two countries held at an undisclosed destination on Tuesday amid tight security arrangements.
Representatives of the Indian Navy, Sri Lankan Navy and Indian Coast Guard attended the meeting, which was held onboard a Sri Lankan ship.
As many as six officials of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard based in New Delhi, Visakhapatnam, Chennai and Mandapam participated from the Indian side.
It was led by Commodore Rajiv Girotra, Naval Officer In-Charge, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. Sri Lanka was represented by naval officials from north and east coast. The Indian delegation flew to the meeting spot by a helicopter from INS Parundu, a naval air station at Uchipuli.
The biannual meeting was held just a week after the resumption of the fishing season after the 45-day ban on fishing. It was aimed at strengthening the naval relationship between the two neighbours. A number of issues and challenges in the post-civil war situation in Sri Lanka, security challenges, incidents of intrusion, maritime violations in Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar and others were discussed.
Speaking to The Hindu, Commodore Rajiv Girotra, said that besides many issues concerning the security and fishermen, the meeting also had discussed about the future developments, particularly ferry service between the two nations.
The two sides wanted to ensure that there were procedures in place for the smooth operation of ferry service so that there would be no complications.
Though the governments were yet to fix the date for the resumption of the service, it was likely to start in June or July.
Although there was no direct role for the navies in ferry service, they have to provide security.
Asked about the apprehension of fishermen of Tamil Nadu about safety and security while fishing in traditional waters, Commodore Girotra said the meeting had decided the issue and the Sri Lankan side had assured them that there would not be any repeat of incidents of [killing of fishermen].
He added that they [Sri Lankan Navy] had been conducting investigation on that side about the incidents [death of Indian fishermen]. (The Hindu)