ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka should hand back land in the north to citizens quicker, because the war ended 10 years ago, Jantha Vimukthi Peramuna, Bimal Ratnayake said.
He said the problem was acute in Mullativu, Kilinochchi, and Mannar areas, even more than Jaffna and some military bases had been set up in those lands after the war.
"It is alright to set up bases when there is a war," Ratnayake told parliament. "But the war ended 10 years ago. They are not asking for state land. It is their private land."
He said some of the lands had been taken from the people by the Tamil Tigers to set up bases, which were then taken over by the military.
However, there was now little likelihood of another uprising and the people were poor.
There were cases where people were in a sit-down protest for 700 days but no action was taken.
"I have seen deeds dating back to the 19th century," he said.
"Please give the land back. What will happen if this was in Kandy?" he questioned.
He said the so-called nationalists had screamed in parliament when there was an explosion at an army base in Salawa near Colombo.
"This chamber and its wall will bear witness," he said.
He said in one case in Mannar, alternative land had been given for the base, but it was not shifted.
Ratnayaka said there was a wide military presence in many villages in the north.
He said the military officials had told him unofficially that it was difficult to maintain small points all over the place.
Minister Lakshman Kiriella said Sri Lanka had been giving land back, and had earned praise for doing so. Because the government delayed giving land back, the United Nations and foreign governments were poking their fingers into Sri Lanka’s affairs.
Ratnayaka said while it was true that land has been given back, there were many unresolved cases remaining.
He said there were complex land issues in the north where the Tamil Tigers had taken land and given them to others. There were also cases of corrupt officials forging documents. Some of the land has since been sold to others he said. (Colombo/Mar13/2019-SB)