Army still holds 5,000 acres of private land

At least 5,000 acres of private land, part of high security zones taken over by the Sri Lankan Army since 1990, are still in their posession, according to a study. 

However, officials have declined to provide an exact figure of the extent of land held by the forces.

On March 23 and April 10 this year, 1,013 acres in the Northern Province, covering parts of Palai Veemankamam and Varththalaivilan, were released.

2D.M. Swaminathan, Sri Lankan Minister for Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Religious Affairs, said a time frame for the release of the remaining land would be set at a meeting to be held in a few weeks’ time between President Maithripala Sirisena and Army officials.

He emphasised that the President, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga [who is heading the Presidential Task Force on Reconciliation] were all keen on returning land to the legitimate owners.

When criticism arose in sections of the media, especially in social media, about the land release, Mr. Sirisena strongly defended the decision in his address to the nation last month in connection with the completion of 100 days in office.

On May 7, Mr. Sirisena issued an order, revoking allocation of 818 acres in Sampur of the Eastern Province to the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka for industrial projects.

The allocation was cancelled so that the land could be used for the resettlement of Tamils displaced during the Eelam War.