IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Katchatheevu Island              

22nd December, 2021 Geography


Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.


  • Thirteen Indian fishermen, hailing from Tamil Nadu, were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on the charge of crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).



  • Katchatheevu is a 163-acre uninhabited island administered by Sri Lanka and was a disputed territory claimed by India until 1976.
  • The island is located between Neduntheevu, Sri Lanka and Rameswaram, and has been traditionally used by both Sri Lankan Tamil and Indian fishermen.


Historical Background

  • Earlier, it was owned by the Ramnad Kingdom of Ramanathapuram Rameshwaram which later came under the Madras Presidency during British rule of India.
  • It was recognised by Ceylon as part of British India after the delimitation of Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait between the then governments of Madras and Ceylon.
  • However in 1921, both Sri Lanka and India laid claims to Katchatheevu.


Post Independence

  • In 1974, then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi ceded Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka under the "Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime agreement"
  • The agreement aimed at resolving the maritime boundaries in the Palk Strait.
  • Another agreement signed in 1976 restricted both the countries’ fishermen from fishing in the other’s exclusive economic zones.

Palk Strait

  • Palk Bay is studded at its southern end with a chain of low islands and reef shoals that are collectively called Adam's Bridge.
  • This chain extends between Dhanushkodi on Pamban Island (also known as Rameswaram Island) in Tamil Nadu and Mannar Island in Sri Lanka.
  • The island of Rameswaram is linked to the Indian mainland by the Pamban Bridge.