The most critical issue the people in the District of Mannar face today is the forced acquisition of their land. This grave concern was taken up by the Bishop of Mannar, Rev. Rayappu Joseph at a meeting with the Chief Minister (CM) of the North C.V. Wigneswaran.
This land-grabbing had gone on incessantly and unabated within the Mannar District.
Speaking to Ceylon Today, Bishop Rayappu Joseph said his discussions with the Northern CM mainly centred on the large extent of land, the security forces had acquired from the people.
“As a result, there are many who do not own land in the Mannar District, their land been put into other purposes. Some of that land grabbed, within the district, had been distributed to those who already owned land,” the Bishop said.
Around 4,000 acres of forest land in the Marichukatti-Mannar area had been cleared up and around 1,000 houses built. But, no one was occupying those houses.
The Bishop had also complained to the CM that houses built under the Indian housing scheme project, too, were being distributed to those who already had houses.
“We urged the Northern CM to take reasonable action and stop that trend and to inspect the houses of those who are affected,” the Bishop said.
The Bishop also drew the attention of Chief Minister Wigneswaran to the acute need for teachers in the Mannar District as no appointments had been made.
“We informed the CM regarding the problems the fishermen and farmers in Mannar faced, with their livelihoods grossly affected,” the Bishop said.
One of the main concerns was the problems faced by the war-widows. How, the single parent mothers could carry on as the bread-winners and care for their families, was a question, which must be met.
“It was discussed as to how relief arrangements could be provided to single parent families headed by widows,” the Bishop said.