TNA Chief raises land colonization issue in Mullaitivu at Presidential Task Force meeting | Sunday Observer

TNA Chief raises land colonization issue in Mullaitivu at Presidential Task Force meeting

Opposition Leader and Tamil National Alliance Chief R. Sampanthan last week, raised serious land issues in the Mullaitivu District with President Maithripala Sirisena, saying there was an attempt to renew a controversial Mahaweli resettlement programme that proposes to bring settlers from other regions of the country to the war torn district.

Sampanthan raised the issue during the meeting of the Presidential Task Force on the development of the North and East last Monday (27) at the Presidential Secretariat.

The Opposition Leader explained that system L had been proclaimed under the Mahaweli Act in the 1980s, even before any water from the Mahaweli irrigation scheme came into that area, creating settlements now known as Weli Oya or Manalaaru which comprised people from other districts in the country. During the term of the previous Government, a further settlement of persons from outside had taken place in this area, the TNA Leader added.

Sampanthan said, this resettlement should not be allowed. “If water was brought to Mullaitivu from outside, land in Mullaitivu without irrigation facilities should receive irrigation facilities and the people who own and cultivate the lands should be the beneficiaries. Landless people in Mullaitivu entitled to receive state lands must also be beneficiaries under such a program,” the Opposition Leader asserted.

Issuing a press release, the TNA said, the President had immediately contacted some authority by telephone and given the assurance that no such program would be implemented. President Sirisena added that he would visit the area himself with TNA MPs and ascertain the correct position.

Sampanthan told officials present at the meeting that the Tamil people had been badly affected by the devastation and destruction during the war. President Sirisena said 88% of the land held by the army when his Government assumed office had been released. However, the TNA Leader added that even nine years after the conclusion of the war both agricultural land and residential lands yet continue to be in the possession of the armed forces – a glaring instance being Keppapilavu in the Mullaitivu District. “75 acres of private land owned and possessed by local people for generations was yet held by the army. This matter has been discussed with both the President and army top brass several times,” Sampanthan said.

Several Ministers, MPs and Government Officials participated at the meeting. All Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Members of Parliament headed by Sampanthan and Leaders of the other Tamil Parties were present. MP Sumanthiran is out of the country, a release by the TNA said.