Minister bats for Katchatheevu trade centre

Chennai, Sep 10 : A trade centre in Katchatheevu will help Indian and Sri Lankan business and interested parties are discussing it, union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan said.

He added the idea would move based on the Supreme Court verdict on the issue of ownership of Katchatheevu in a case filed by the Tamil Nadu government.

"... Before becoming a union minister, I had made a special mention in the house that a trade centre could be built in Katchatheevu to benefit business groups of both the countries," Natchiappan told IANS over phone Tuesday.

He said all the necessary infrastructure - airport, port, roads - are present in southern Tamil Nadu but investments are not flowing due to the political situation in the state in relation to Sri Lanka.

"I love Tamil Nadu and want the state to develop. For that I am fighting," Natchiappan said when queried about articulating the trade centre idea at a time when majority of the political parties in the state are against Sri Lanka.

"Many Sri Lankan Tamils have their relatives in Tamil Nadu," he added.

According to him, Indian and Sri Lankan business houses are interested in increasing trade.

Katchatheevu island is located in the narrow sea (Palk Straits) dividing the two countries. The sea is rich in marine life which has often led to clashes between fishermen of the two countries.

The islet was ceded to Sri Lanka by India under an agreement in 1974.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa had filed a case in the apex court to declare ceding of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka as unconstitutional as parliament had not ratified the pact.

Incidentally, the Powerloom Development and Export Promotion Council set up by the ministry of textiles, government of India organised the India International Fabric Expo-Colombo 2013 in Sri Lanka Sep 8-10 in Colombo.

Fabrics and made-ups of all fibres base have been displayed by 53 leading manufacturers from across India, said a government statement.

According to the statement till noon on Sep 10, there were footfalls of about 1,900 leading garment manufacturers, whole-sellers and institutional buyers of Sri Lanka.

Exhibitors has reported committed and future business of about USD 21 million.

--IANS (Posted on 10-09-2013)

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