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Katchatheevu Island & Wadge Bank

Published: 5th Apr, 2024


Documents obtained through an RTI application has shed light on India's wavering approach to the Katchatheevu island dispute with Sri Lanka. Colombo later recognized the resource-rich, deep-sea fishing grounds of Wadge Bank as Indian Territory in 1976.


About Katchatheevu Island


  • Located in the Palk Strait, which separates India and Sri Lanka, lies the small, deserted island of
  • Fisherman from Sri Lanka and India rely heavily on the waters surrounding Katchatheevu as their fishing grounds. 
  • Originally, under the Madras Presidency of British India, Katchatheevu was a princely kingdom that was a component of the Ramnad Kingdom.
  • The island was incorporated into the Indian state of Tamil Nadu following India’s independence in 1947.

About Wadge Bank

  • Wadge Bank is a 10,000 square kilometre submarine plateau, of the sea south of Kanyakumari that is rich in biodiversity and considered India’s richest fishery resource.
  • Wadge Bank, located near Cape Comorin, is home to more than 60 species of ornamental fish and other oceanic animals.
  • Wadge Bank measures approximately 3,000 square km, and is about 189 km from
  • Wadge Bank came to India as part of the second of the two accords signed with Sri Lanka in the 1970s.

Details revealed in the document

  • The documents show that Sri Lanka is making up for its small size by pursuing the 1.9 square kilometer of territory around 20 km from the Indian beach with tenacity.
  • This is based on claims that New Delhi disputed for decades before finally giving in to.
  • Soon after independence, Ceylon, then known as Sri Lanka, asserted that the Indian Navy, then known as the Royal Indian Navy, could not hold exercises on the island without its consent.
  • In 1974, India’s then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi handed over the territory in Palk Strait to Sri Lanka.
  • Multifaceted issues: The decision to cede Katchatheevu has been a source of contention in Tamil Nadu, particularly for fishermen who continue to face arrest by Sri Lankan authorities.
    • Handing over Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka has impacted Indian fishermen, mostly from Tamil Nadu, who often get detained by the Sri Lankan Navy.

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