It is learnt that Dr.Vinoba, Senior lecturer of the Department of Zoology, Eastern University, who had applied for the post of Vice Chancellor of University of Jaffna has been appointed as a member of the Board of Directors of National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) on 12.06.23, by Douglas Devananda, Minister of Fisheries. Reports of the Dr. Vinoba’s appointment as NARA member has raised eyebrows as he was the main person on behalf of the Eastern University mediating the terms and conditions of the MoU signed between Eastern University and Chinese University in April this year.
Speculations are rife that appointment of such an individual will definitely strain the bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka as he was spearheading the MoU between Eastern and Chinese University. NARA is reportedly involved in making various environmental reports and there are all possibilities that he may tweak the reports in favour of Chinese companies due to his association with China. This entire issue has caused lot of apprehensions among the public, parties and students.
It is also reported that Fisheries Minister held a discussion with NARA officials on 13th June and asked to give reports if sea cucumber farms can be set up in Mullaitivu, where there is none till now. NARA officials have also reported in affirmative that sea cucumber farms can be established. While there are already 268 sea cucumber farms in Jaffna, 277 farms in Kilonochchi and 123 farms in Mannar, now Mullaitivu is also being eyed. Despite scientifically proven that these marine farms cause irreparable damage to the environment sea cucumber farms continue to be set up causing a major problem in the north.
The sea cucumbers grow in these sea cucumber farms, are for exports. Seaweeds also fetch good prices in the international market. None of the local fishermen have benefited from it.
At the administrative level, the Chinese government is making all efforts to make inroads into the Jaffna University. Chinese Yunnan University sent an invitation to the Vice Chancellor of Jaffna University on the 9th of May seeking participation from Vice Chancellor, University of Jaffna for the yoga day to be held in China on the 21st. It sought a confirmation before 29th May. When the Vice-Chancellor did not respond till 22nd of May, on 23rd the Fisheries Minister’s personal secretary intervened and urged the Vice Chancellor to respond to the Chinese request for his participation. Defying all this, the Vice Chancellor went to Japan.
There are concerns that the appointment of a senior professor who is considered pro-Chinese as a member of NARA could lead to a conflict between India and China.