Variance over Palk Strait: India-Sri Lanka Maritime issues

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Journal of Maritime Geopolitics and Culture, Volume 2, Number 1&2, p.45–60 (2011)



India-Sri Lanka relations, Indian Ocean & Kachativu, Palk Strait


India had settled maritime boundary issues with all its neighbours including Sri Lanka. In reality, however, India still has issues to be addressed in Palk Strait with Sri Lanka, considered one of its friendliest neighbours. In spite of the existence of two maritime agreements of 1974 and 1976 there are certain irritants between the two neighbours. The main issue is the status of Kachchativu, a small barren island in the Palk Bay area. The contest for marine resources in and around Kachchativu by Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen has not only heighten the disagreement but also led to demands to reclaim the island by Indian fishermen. The paper will examine the historical debates between two countries on the legal claim of the barren island and its implication on India?s domestic politics. The attack on Indian fishermen in Palk Straits by the Sri Lankan Navy which has become a contentious issue between two neighbours will be analysed in view of other contentious maritime issues in Indian Ocean between India and Sri Lanka. Finally the paper will highlight the availability of reasonable options before two countries for cooperation.


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