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Prez-Tamil MPs talks: Prez gives N-E land release orders to Forest Dept.

Prez-Tamil MPs talks: Prez gives N-E land release orders to Forest Dept.

18 May 2023 | BY Buddhika Samaraweera

  • Forest Dept. to release N-E lands taken beyond limits demarcated in 1985 maps, Archaeology Dept. to rectify land acquisition errors 

President and National Policies Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has issued an order to release the lands in the Northern and Eastern Provinces that have been acquired by the Department of Forest Conservation beyond the relevant limits demarcated as demarcated in maps prepared in 1985. 

In Addition, the Department of Archaeology has expressed their consent to review certain mistakes that they have committed with regard to land acquisitions and correct them.  

A series of meetings were held between Wickremesinghe and Tamil Parliamentarians representing the two Provinces to discuss matters related to communities living in the North and the East as well as in the Plantation sector.

When contacted by The Daily Morning to inquire about the progress of these discussions, the Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani Leader and Jaffna District MP C.V. Wigneswaran said:  "The President’s order benefits people of the North and East, considering the land grabbing in those Provinces happening now at the hands of Forest Conservation and Archeology Departments. He instructed the Forest Conservation Department officials to consider the maps of 1985 as the basis when deciding on releasing the land from their purview. Accordingly, any land that was grabbed by the Department beyond what was demarcated in those maps will have to be returned to the people. I don’t know to what extent the Department would implement it, but that was the President's order," he said.

When queried by The Daily Morning how the order would be applicable to lands under the purview of the Archeology Department, Wigneswaran said that it would not be in a similar manner. "The Director General of the Archeology Department, Prof. Anura Manatunga attended these discussions and admitted that they were aware that certain mistakes had been committed earlier by the department with regard to land acquisition. Further he assured to bring a solution following a review of past actions. I hope to discuss with him and sort out a few pertaining matters with regard to land acquisition," he added.

President Wickremesinghe has been pledging to resolve issues faced by people living in the North and the East, in particular the frequently raised issues of private land occupation by the military forces and State Departments. 

The President held several rounds of discussions with Tamil MPs regarding the issues faced by people of the North and the East, workers of the plantation sector and the non-implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

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