Pres. Rajapaksa distributing deeds in pop-up tentPresident Mahinda Rajapaksa distributed land deeds to 3,000 farmer families in the Mahaweli L Zone under the theme of “Farmland Rights for you who give Golden Harvest to the Nation”, at a ceremony held at Sampath Nuwara Mahaweli grounds in the former conflict-affected Weli Oya on Saturday.
Addressing a large gathering, the President said that the government is planning to hold elections to the Northern Provincial Council shortly, most likely in September, He said that this will be the first time, provincial council elections will be held in the Northern Province, since the PC system came into existence under the 13th amendment to the Constitution in 1987.
The President also recalled how terrorism brought untold hardships to the people of the area where many were killed and some others fled due to continuous attacks by the terrorists.
President Rajapaksa said his government has no differences and everyone and all areas are treated equally with the aim of providing equal opportunities and facilities to all. and today smiles were back in the faces where there was only pain and everyone was enjoying the peace dividend.
He said farmers can now go about their livelihoods freely and the government has restored the destroyed infrastructure and cultivations were thriving once again. However, he noted that some were quick to forget the past and the unprecedented destruction caused by terrorists.
President Rajapaksa said devoid of past difficulties and with increased assistance, the Mahaweli Movement was now going through a golden era under the present government and the farming community was able to live with dignity.
The President also requested farmer families to use the land given to them productively without resorting to selling or mortgaging it. “Do not become a servant of your own land,” he said.
While lending an ear to their problems, the President assured to find an immediate solution to the teacher shortage in the Weli Oya area. He also advised the farmers not to become addicted to intoxicants such as alcohol and tobacco and thereby endanger the future well being of their children and family.
Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva speaking at the occasion said round 63,000 Mahaweli farmer families will receive land deeds this year.
The President also distributed organic fertiliser production kits to the farmers after the meeting. He mingled with the large crowd and inquired about their expectations and needs.
Ministers Gunaratne Weerakoon and Rishard Bathuideen, Deputy Minister W.B.Ekanayake, Wanni district SLFP organiser Premarathne Sumathipala and Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority Director General Gamini Rajakaruna also spoke. Minister Tissa Karaliyadda, North Central Chief Minister S.M.Ranjith, Governor Karunaratne Divulgane, Northern Governor Major General G.A.Chandrasiri, Deputy Minister S.M.Chandrasena, political leaders, land deed recipients and the public were present.
Land grabbing taking place in cleared areas in northeastern SL
by LankaNewsWeb, Colombo, July 23, 2009
A mass scale land encroaching is reported from areas like Welioya (Manalaru), Kokkuthudai, Kokilai etc. in the northeastern terrain of Sri Lanka. Civilian activities were restricted in these areas for a long period of time due to the fighting between the Army and the Tamil Tiger rebels that claimed for a Tamil homeland in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. However, following the Army’s victory over the Tamil Tigers, demining and rapid development is taking place in the area and ambitious and mostly well-to-do Sinhala people in Welioya and Padaviya colonies are reportedly grabbing land.
When we asked about this from the Residential Project Manager of Welioya Mahaweli zone P. G. Dayananda, he rejected that encroaching is taking place. He said that the residents of the area are given permission to cultivate in state land. The residents of Welioya pay Rs. 750 per acre and the other persons pay Rs. 1000 per acre to state as tax. Permission is limited to five acres and only for the coming Maha season, he said. He said that the expected outcome would be paddy harvest worth of Rs. 30 to50 million in the coming season. He emphasized that this permission would not be material for any future claim to land according to the agreement.
However, our observations pointed to the fact that new use of state land has not limited to the system declared by the Mahaweli Authority and encroaching that is taking place is not in full control of the authorities. There are reports that some individuals are grabbing huge lands of the size of ten to twenty acres and even bulldozers are used in clearing jungles.
|(map courtesy of Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority) click map to enlarge|