Monday, September 26, 2011

Parliamentary Speech by Hon. Sivasakthy Ananthan on Land Issues

Adjournment Motion on land   22.09.2011

Speech by the Hon. Sivasakthy Ananthan Member of Parliament

1.   In the Vavuniya North ( Nedunkerni ) Divisional Secretariat area , 80% the lands come under the Mahaweli Authority. The Security forces have stated that 500 acres of land owned by the resettled people of traditional villages of Olumadu, Paddikkudiyiruppu and Katkulam whose livelihood is dependant on three tanks namely Thanikkallu, Iluppaikkulam and Othiyamalai have not been demined and they have been brought under the Mahaweli Authority. Farmers who went there to engage in agricultural activities have been warned and sent back. The resettled people who own lands with Title Deeds and L.D.O  Permits depend on agriculture and livestock farming for their livelihood. However, in 2010 the Sinhalese from Welioya have been allowed by the Army to engage in Paddy Cultivation in the same lands belonging to the Tamil people.

On 01.12.2010 seventeen Tamil farmers who are the owners of the above Paddy lands that come under the Nedunkerni Divisional Secretariat Division were summoned by an Army Officer and a Civil Officer and informed that these lands are to be included in the Mahaweli Development Scheme, the owners of these lands must come under the Welioya Divisional Secretary Division and if they don’t agree, all the permits of these lands will be cancelled and they will be brought under the Mahaweli Development Schemes.

Subsequently on 26.12.2010 and 07.09.2011 I went on a special visit to these villages and came to realise their plight . I wish to bring to the attention of this House that I sent an urgent letter to His Excellency the President informing him about the attempt to bring the paddy lands of the above villages under the Mahaweli Development Scheme and requesting him to stop the action taken to forcibly link up these lands with the Welioya Divisional Secretary Division and to allow the people of this area to cultivate  their own lands.

Secretary to the President has written a letter to the Land Commissioner General asking for explanation. The Land Commissioner General had asked for details from the Director General of the Mahaweli Board by his letter dated 11.03.2011 . Accordingly, after about nine months delay, he has addressed a letter to the land Commissioner General dated 06.09.2011 with a copy to me in Sinhala. It is mentioned in this letter that the villages mentioned by me above and the areas cultivated by these people have been proclaimed as special zones (zone-L ) under the Mahaweli Board, it has been planned to irrigate these areas with Mahaweli water after constructing the Moragahakanda reservoir and the North-Central Anthar Nimne canal.So far work has been started only on the reservoir dam and it will take many years for the construction of the canal and for the Mahaweli water to arrive. However , it has been further mentioned in that letter that the Thanikkallu Tank has been renovated and the agricultural lands that come under this tank have been handed over to the owners. In this letter, the Director General of  the  Mahaweli Authority has further stated that the Authority has not taken any steps regarding the above mentioned areas, that there are no plans to bring these  lands under any proposed Mahaweli Development Schemes , and if in  future the Government takes any decision regarding these places and implementation is handed over to us, we shall bring them under the Mahaweli Development Scheme and fulfill this responsibility.

From the above facts, it becomes very clear that your intention is not to bring the Mahaweli water to the areas inhabited by the Tamil people; you wish to submit this plan to foreign countries in order to obtain aid  and use it for the South only. You want to rob the traditional lands of our people and settle the Sinhalese on these lands .Recently they have been settled in Mullaitivu.

1.2    In 2010  the Security  Forces allowed the Sinhala farmers who live in Weli-Oya to cultivate 450 acres of paddy land belonging to 250 Tamil families who live in the Pattikkudiyiruppu Grama Sevaka Division.

Now , farmers who went in tractors to plough their own lands have been turned back. These people are the owners of these lands who possess Title Deeds,  Transfer Deeds and government land permits. They have been seriously affected by the war and they depend on their paddy lands. These people who live under the poverty line have been resettled without any basic facilities. At he Sentry posts  they  have warned them not to enter these lands as they have been included in the Mahaweli  L-zone. Now these people are facing death by starvation.

1.3    A similar situation prevails in the village of Vedivaiththakallu which has an ancient history since 1814. These people who went to engage in sowing activities were detained by the army for two hours, threatened and chased away. Though this area has been allowed by the government for resettlement, basic facilities have not been provided.

1.4    In Navalar Pannai there are 250 acres of paddy land and land for highland crops. 20 families have been allowed for resettlement here, But basic facilities have not been provided, These people have been accommodated in a temporary hut put up by the SOA voluntary organization in a forest area in Kattuppoovarasankulam. Here the subsoil water is found 50 feet below the ground.

Only a single tube- well has been constructed. These people cannot settle here or engage in cultivation. They should be allowed to resettle in Navalar Pannai which is their   traditional area.

1.5    In Nedunkeni many private lands have been taken by force by the Army and the Police, As a result , people find it difficult to resettle in these lands . In the Nedunkerni Divisional Secretary area the Army and the Police demand that they should be allocated upto 50, 100 and 200 acres of land.

1.6    In the Kanagarayankulam Grama Sevaka Division of the Nedunkerni Divisional Secretary Area the army has camped in the cemetery which is 4 acres in extent , The Army must be removed from this cemetery and it should be again handed over to the village people.

1.7    In Kanagarayankulam a Buddha statue is being constructed in the land of individuals who have title deeds for their lands . These lands should be returned to the owners.

1.8    In Kanagarayankulam the army has not vacated the private and government lands which come under the Agrarian Centre

1.9       The Army and the Police have  grabbed a large number of land plots on either side of the A-9 Road from Vavuniya to Jaffna and established tea-boutiques , Buddha statues and Army Memorial Symbols. These are all illegal appropriation of lands and illegal structures which should be removed.

1.10                     The Police have occupied two acres of land near the Kanagarayankulam Maha Vidyalayam. The school administration has made a request to allow them to start the primary classes of this school.

2.1       Two Thousand acres of public property constituting jungle area between Sinnathambanai and Sinnappandivirichchan in the Vavuniya Divisional Secretary area is being cleared. Great effort is being made here either to construct an airport for the use of the Security forces or an Army Quarters. This activity must be stopped to preserve the environment and forest resources.

2.2       The Army has requested the Divisional Secretary to give them many acres of land that come under the Vavuniya Divisional Secretary Division

2.3       There are resettled people in the Village of Velankulam situated six kilometers away from the Poovarasankulam- Thurukkai Road in the Vavuniya Divisional Secretary Division. Here the people entirely depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Here the Air Force has grabbed 30 acres of highland crops land belonging to seven farmers who were cultivating these lands for three decades.

Thirty Five farmer families were resettled here in November 2010. As they have no basic facilities, they have been unable to engage in cultivation activities. Showing this as an excuse , the Air-Force has erected a  fence around 30 acres of land and they have put up a signboard in English and Tamil stating that this is the property of the Air force and no one is allowed to enter this land. It is noteworthy that there is already an Air Force camp near Velankulam.

3.1                             The army is making serious efforts to appropriate fifteen thousand acres of land where camps were situated to accommodate more than three hundred thousand internally displaced people in the Chettikulam Divisional Secretary Division. The Security forces request the Divisional Secretary to hand over these lands to them as they want to set up a farm there. Here all facilities like electricity and water have been provided to enable the displaced people to live. The UNHCR inquired from the Government Agent at a meeting in the Vavuniya Kachcheri about this matter. Therefore, it seems to us that this is a plan made with the view of settling the Sinhalese here. In the backdrop of this land area the Aruviyaru flows. The Government  thinks that livelihood activities like agriculture and livestock farming can be easily engaged in as there is fertile soil and plenty of water.

3.2  At the sametime when all efforts are being made to settle the Sinhalese alongside Aruviyaru, another attempt is made to colonise the Sinhalese along the Mannar Road from Parayanalankulam junction up to Madhu. Menik farm faces the same fate.

4.     There is a 200 year old village called Mullikkulam in the Madhu Assistant  Government Agent Division in the Mannar District. There is one thousand acres of paddy and highland land in this area and more than one hundred families lived here. The Northern Province Naval Base is situated here. The people of the village are still in Refugee Camps.

4.1       Action must be taken to resettle the people of Mullikkulam Village who were evicted in 2007 and who are still leading a life as vagrants.

4.2       More than one thousand acres of land in Vankalai has been gazetted as a bird sanctuary. This must be cancelled immediately. It is worth mentioning that there are no natural  environmental factors here to justify the purpose.

4.3       140 Hindu families obtained lands at the Land Kachcheri held in     2004 in the Manthai West Sannar Village. The attempt to evict them and settle other persons there has to be stopped

   4.4    An attempt is being made to construct a Buddhist Monastery in 500 acres of land from Vellankulam Devanpity upto the Mannar boundary line.

4.5       15 Sinhalese families have been settled in the Narikkulam Village near Katkadanthakulam in Murungan. 150 Sinhalese families have been settled in Madhu Road.

5.     People have not been allowed to resettle in Mulliwaikkal East , West, Centre , Valaignarmadam, Anantharmadam and Koppapulavu in the Karaithuraippattu Divisional Secretary Division of Mullaitivu District. It is learnt that these areas have been proclaimed as High Security Zones.

5.1       The government has announced that nine Grama Sevaka Divisions coming under the Divisional Secretariat of Karaithuraippattu must be  linked to Weli- oya ( Manalaru) which is being administered unofficially by the Government Agent of Anuradhapura District, a new Assistant Government Agent Division must be established and it must be administered by the Mullaitivu Government Agent.

5.2       An Army Camp is established in the Karunattukerni School which was functioning for more than 50 years. The Army is refusing to vacate this place. They have stated that funds will be given to establish the school in another place. Five million rupees is said to have been allocated for this purpose. This school had all the resources in this four acres of land. It is a great injustice to demand now that this School should be shifted. The army camp has been established in an area of six acres including the School land and another two acres belonging to the Pradeshiya Sabha.

5.3       People who lived in Thirumurugandy and Inthupuram under the Divisional Secretary Division of Oddusuddan have been refused permission for resettlement after their displacement. Huge Army camps have been constructed in their lands. 115 families have not been allowed to resettle in Inthupuram.

5.4       The bus plying between Puthukkudiyiruppu and Mulliawalai through Koppapulavu, and Vattappalai has to use the new road from Puthukkudiyiruppu to Koppapulavu. The earlier road has been declared as a High Security Zone and the Public are not allowed to enter it. A whole Grama Sevaka Division has been declared  ( Koppapulavi) as a  High Security Zone. It is learnt that this place has been converted as a runway for the air crafts  of the Air- Force. What is the need for such run ways when the war is over? If the government is really interested in a political solution , it doesn’t need to strengthen its military might.

The above mentioned facts were given to me by the people of Vanni, There may be more. Our Members of Parliament have stated that there are similar occurrences in Jaffna, Kilinochchi and the Eastern Province.

As land and sharing of water are linked to a political solution we request that until such time as a permanent solution is arrived at, land acquisition and the related new land registration ( Bimseviya) system and other projects of grabbing the traditional lands of the Tamil people must be scrapped and all related gazette notifications and circulars must be withdrawn immediately. The government must not promote such plans without forging strong relationships between the ethnic communities. Our people who depend entirely on agriculture, fishing and livestock farming for  their livelihoods must be freely  able to engage in these activities and must be allowed to go and live in their traditional lands. I call upon everyone in this house to come foreword  to do everything needed proactively to make this a reality.

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