There was no land grab so far during President Rajapaksa’s government in the Jaffna Peninsula – Minister Basil Rajapaksa
Wed, 2013-09-11 11:19 — editor
Not an inch of land has been grabbed in the Jaffna Peninsula after November 2005 – under the presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa, pointed out Basil Rajapaksa.
In a media meet held yesterday at Jaffna, at the Green Grass Hotel Auditorium, Minister for Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa assured that the Northern Provincial Council Election will be free and fair, without the interference of the Army and allayed the fears and concerns of the media personnel who raised this issue.
When responding to a question about the land issue in the Peninsula, Minister Basil Rajapaksa traced the history of the land acquisition. He said it dated back to the period of the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF).
Minister clarified that it was the IPKF who started the acquisition of lands in the Peninsula. He added following the land acquisition by IPKF, it was followed by acquiring lands under Emergency Regulations and under various laws and regulations.
When the Minister told that initially lands were acquired by the Indian Peace Keeping Forces, a journalist took exception.
But Asian Tribune Editor who was one of the media person present at the Press Meet, strongly agreed with the Minister and said most of the journalists who were present in the Press Meet were either not born when the IPKF forcefully took over the lands from the Jaffna civilians or they were toddlers and they were not aware of such forceful appropriation of lands by the IPKF.
When speaking on the Land Issue Minister Basil Rajapaks said this Government would follow the law to the very alphabet and lands if it is needed for development purposes and for security reasons would be taken over by informing the owners of the intention of taking over such land, legal notices would be sent, gazetted and arrangements would be made to pay compensation to such lands according to the value of the intended land that will be taken over by the Government.
Minister Basil Rajapaksa when further responding to a media person’s question as to when the lands belonging to the Vali North people would be returned , he said that Government under Mahinda Rajapaksa has already started giving back lands that are not needed for any government purposes to the rightful owners.
He further said that recently the Election Commissioner has contacted him and pointed out that handing back lands to the owners during the Northern Provincial Council elections constitute violation of election laws and request to desist from handing over lands during the elections. Minister said that returning of lands would continue after 21st September, after the polling to the Northern Provincial Council.
In the meantime Asian Tribune Editor brought to the notice of the Minister that there are more than 2000 acres of Government land available in the Vallai Veli, very close to Palaly and that land could be made use for the construction of an Airport and those lands lie very close proximity to Palaly and the airport too can be called as Palaly.
Minister Basil Rajapaksa said the suggestion of put forward by Editor Asian Tribune has to be studied and actions may be taken in the near future for the same.
Minister continued to explain that the Hhigh Security Zone was erected in the Peninsula due to 30 years of war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and it was mooted initially by the Indian Peace Keeping Forces.
He added after their (IPKF) return to Indi and those appropriated lands were not returned back to the people.
However, he said, the appropriated lands for High Security Zone were not returned back by any of the previous governments . But he said after 2005 during the Presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa not an inch of land has been taken over.
He went on to say that after 2009, the Government has taken measures to gradually return the lands back to people back.
Minister pointed out that lands were continuously appropriated for important projects not only in the North but also in the South.
Already many blocs of lands have been taken over in Endaramula located in the Gampaha district for the construction of the Colombo – Jaffna Expressway. He said that the people of Endaramulla of course are not going to be benefited by the construction of an Expressway, but the people in the Jaffna Peninsula would greatly benefit.
Similarly in Sampur in the East, lands are being acquired for the construction of a coal based Power plant to be constructed by India and agreement for the same with India has been signed way back in 1987.
Therefore, he appealed that appropriation lands for the welfare of the people should not be made an ethnic issue and ethnic color should not be painted and tainted.
Minister Basil Rajapaksa reminded that during the last Pradeshiya Sabah election time, the Tamil National Alliance in its election campaign said that they could develop the North without any assistance and help from the Sri Lanka Government.
He said it was unfortunate that elected TNA Pradeshiya Sabah Councilors were unable to do any development works even with the funds allocated by the government.
He brought to the notice of the media persons that two years ago he spent Rs. 500 million to construct the Chavakachcheri Pradeshiya Sabah building and up to date, it was unfortunate he said, that the completed building was not even declared open by the TNA controlled Pradeshiya Sabah.
When I last visited Chavakachcheri, Minister Basil Rajapaksa said, I found the Fish Market in a very bad condition and I found that it needed urgent renovation. After my visit to the fish market, I provided funds for the same. Unfortunately even today the condition of that fish market remains the same.
When the TNA Pradeshya Sabah Councilors were unable to do any development activities, there is no guarantee that a Provincial Council under the Tamil National Alliance would be able do anything to the people of the North.
Minister Basil Rajapakse says the election manifesto presented by the TNA is not aimed at the northern provincial council election. It is aimed to create a conflict between the public in north and the south.
He said, the TNA tries to arouse racial feelings of the southern people and create a terror situation in the country again. It is another attempt to point out the election internationally as a one that could be used to gain the right to self-governance.
Minister Basil pointed out that it was pity that TNA was unable come up with a Chief Minister candidate – one from the nearly 495 ,000 voters in the Jaffna Peninsula.
He said that he tried to find the address of the TNA candidate in the North voters register and there was no listing of Mr. Vigneswaran’s name.
He said that when he checked the voters list of Colombo Central, he found at 16 C Cambridge Terrace, Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo 7 the name of Gnanasabapathy Viswalingham Vigneswaran.
He added that Vigneswaran is one of the elites living in a place like Cinnamon Gardens. How he can understand the problems of an ordinary Tamil of the North, Minister Basil asked.
He said: "The TNA candidate contesting for the Chief Minister's post came to the North only after the war, that too was to hand over his nomination. I have visited the North more than 200 times after the war to solve the people's problems.
Therefore he added The people of the North should take all these things into consideration and the public of the north should cast their vote to the UPFA if they want to fulfill their expectations.
- Asian Tribune -