India to set up Maritime Research Coordination Centre in Sri Lanka
On January 19, 2020, Indian National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval met Sri Lankan President Gotbaya Rajpaksa. He discussed setting up of maritime research coordination centre in the country. The establishment of research centre is important to learn maritime activities in the Indian Ocean Region.
The Sri Lankan President and the Indian NSA discussed improving bilateral relations and also to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces of the countries. India recently extended military assistance of 50 million USD to Sri Lanka. The visit highlights that India is trying to create robust maritime security cooperation involving Maldives and Sri Lanka.
Maritime Irritants between the Countries
In spite of two maritime agreements that were signed in 1974 and 1976, there are several irritants between the countries. In 1974 agreement, India agreed to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty over Katchchativu island but with some safeguards. The safeguards were included by India to protect its fishermen. However, Sri Lanka till date complains that the agreement failed to give fishing rights to Sri Lankan fishermen.
Also. The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project that was undertaken by India to link Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar has been stalled due to environmental and livelihood concerns. The canal will cut short the distances of Indian ships navigating between East and West coasts of India.