Sri Lanka to return military-occupied property to people

EconomyNext – The Sri Lankan government is to return to the people large extents of land and buildings occupied by the military for security reasons during the ethnic war, a spokesman said Thursday.

"Government policy to return property covers the entire island, not only the north," D. M. Swaminadan, Minister of Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Religious Affairs, told a news conference.

About 1,000 acres will be released to the owners shortly around the Palaly military airbase in the northern Jaffna peninsula, Swaminadan said.

Of 500 acres occupied by the air force in the eastern Panama area, all except 25 acres will be freed for people to be resettled, he said.

Buildings in high security zones adjoining the President’s House and the prime minister’s ‘Temple Trees’ resident also will be released.

During the 30-year ethnic war properties around military camps in the north and east were taken over by the military to provide in-depth defence against attacks by Tamil Tiger separatists who acquired artillery during the conflict.

Buildings around the offices and homes of government leaders were also taken over to provide better security.

Plantations Industries Minister Lakshman Kiriella told the news conference the military had occupied over 11,000 acres during the war.

"Now it’s down to about 6,000 acres of which we will release another 1,000 acres," he said. "People living in refugee camps have deeds in Jaffna but they are in camps because their properties are occupied by the security forces."

Swaminadan said of the 1,000 acres to be released soon, 200 acres in the Valikamam East division will be used to set up a resettlement model village which will have schools, places of worship, hospitals and other public infrastructure.






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