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Katchatheevu Island

Why is it in the news?

  • The Prime Minister raised the Katchatheevu Island issue ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

 About Katchatheevu Island

  • Katchatheevu Island is an uninhabited island located in the Palk Strait.
  • Believed to have formed following a volcanic eruption in the 14th century, it passed to the Ramanathapuram-based Ramnad kingdom in India in the 17th century.
  • During the British Raj, it became part of the Madras presidency. However, both Sri Lanka and India, then British colonies, laid claim to Katchatheevu in 1921.

The Controversy

  • The controversy escalated in 1974 when the Indian government, under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, ceded the island to Sri Lanka.
  • The island lies on the Sri Lankan side of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and was recognized by India as Sri Lankan territory under the Agreement on the boundary in Historic Waters between the two countries and Related Matters.
  • This decision has been a point of contention, particularly in the state of Tamil Nadu.
  • The primary issue revolves around fishing rights, with fishermen from Rameswaram considering the waters surrounding Katchatheevu as their traditional fishing grounds.
  • The matter has caused ongoing tensions between India and Sri Lanka, as well as protests and demands for the retrieval of the island by various Tamil Nadu political parties and fishermen associations.

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