ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Department of Railways, set up during British rule had lost 80 percent of 14,000 land reservations which have been underutilized to squatters, which include ex-railway workers, the government has said.
Of the total reservation about 10 percent (1,400 acres) had been given for use to various parties under leases, a note by Transport Minister Nimal Siripala to the cabinet of ministers had said.
Of the balance about 80 percent (about 72 percent of the total or 10,000 acres) were taken over by squatters.
Retires officials of Sri Lanka Railways are among those squatting on the reservations illegally, but a bulk of them are ordinary citizens.
A cabinet sub-committee made up of Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Land Minister Gayantha Karunatilake, Public Administration Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara, headed by Minister de Silva to report on the issue.
The committee is to look at ways to follow a "compassionate policy’ regarding the railway workers who are illegally squatting on the department’s land.
There was no mention of whether ordinary citizens, would receive equal treatment to state workers or whether they will receive harsher treatment.
Liberty activists have pointed out that the elected ruling class that got hold of the state machinery after independence from British rules had given a number of privileges to themselves in the style of a feudal state.
These tax free salaries (ended by ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa), tax free or tax slashed cars, while slamming draconian taxes on ordinary citizens.
The rise in corruption in the state machinery after the end of British rule is blamed on the ending of the institution of permanent secretaries through the 1972 and 1978 constitutions. (Colombo/Feb01/2018)