The Secretary of Youth Affairs of Ilangkai Thamizh Arasuk Kadchi and a TNA political activist in Mannaar, VS Sivakaran, told media in the island Saturday that Colombo has appropriated at least one fifth of the lands in Mannaar district for military purposes and a long-term Sinhalicisation and colonisation of the district.
“The land grab in Mannaar should be seen in the light of planned Sinhala settlements, demographic changes and construction of Buddhist stupas throughout the North-East,” he said, providing a comprehensive list of focal points of the land grab in Mannaar district. Calling for a democratic civil protest on July 07 in Mannaar city, Mr Sivakaran, on behalf of the grassroot of the TNA in Mannaar has urged all Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala forces that promote justice, to take part in the civil protest on coming Saturday.
Following are the areas and types of land grab in the district as listed by the grassroot activists of the TNA in Mannaar district:
• The Sri Lanka Navy, which has occupied the sea ports of the Mannaar island as well as the mainland, has lately sought to legally appropriate these ports, causing enormous difficulties to the resettlement process of the civilians and to the future of civilian fishing industry that depends upon access to the sea.
• 500 acres of lands have been appropriated along the southern seaside of Mannaar island facing Gulf of Mannaar, through a Gazette notification saying that an energy-farm would be set up there. 300 acres of these lands belong to the civilians in the villages of Oalaith-thoduvaay, Naduk-kudaa, Viyaayadip-pa’n’nai, Kaddukkaaran-kudiyiruppu and Kee’liyan-kudiyiruppu.
• The Sri Lankan military has appropriated lands belonging to civilians in Mu’l’likku’lam in Musali division. The people, most of them stricken by poverty, are blocked from resettling there.
• The SL military has occupied several lands and houses belonging to civilians and public buildings in Mannaar [town]. The owners of the houses are forced to live with their relatives or in exile, especially in India.
• Recently, the civilians who went back to resettle in 50-houses-scheme of the Church of Our Lady of Victory at Kurusup-paadu were chased out from their houses.
• While the resettling people face so much hurdles in getting back their lands in Channaar in Maanthai West, 3500 acres of fertile lands have been appropriated for the establishment of a training base. These lands were surveyed and handed over to the military by the Sri Lankan Survey Department.
• The SL Department of Wildlife Conservation has extended a large fertile land, from Naakathaazhvu through Vangkaalai and towards the entrance of Mannaar town, ostensibly for the purpose of the bird sanctuary, but blocking resettlement of people in a large area.
• At Vangkaalai, a large area of private lands that belong to exiled persons who reside in Tamil Nadu in India, remains appropriated together with public lands for the naval base of the Sri Lanka Navy.
• At Narik-kaadu, the lands that belonged to Cement Cooperation have been provided to Sinhala settlers.
• In Naanaaddaan division, the Sri Lankan military is hurriedly setting up camps in appropriated lands near Murungkan town and at Murungkanpiddi, disturbing the civilian life.
• Apart from the above mentioned appropriations, several isolated incidents of land grab by the military has been reported in Thalai-Mannaar, Peasaalai, Chelvapuram, Sunny Village, Chilaavaththu’rai, Arippu, Kokkuppudaiyaan, Na’ruvilik-ku’lam, Jeeva-nakar, Pa’ndaara-ve’li, Uyilang-ku’lam, Parappuk-kadanthaan, Ka’l’liyadi, Naayaattu-ve’li, Kooraay, Iluppaik-kadavai, Ve’l’laangku’lam, Paalampiddi, Ira’nai-iluppaik-ku’lam, Chengkal-paddu, Ma’nki’ndi and other places. It is learnt that some of these lands, already occupied by the military, have been recently subjected to legal transfer from the owners to the SL military.