North land issue: President directs Defence Secy ‘Release private lands’

By Ifham Nizam

President Maithripala Sirisena has advised armed forces chiefs to act fast to release private lands that have no security concerns in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, Defence Ministry Secretary, B.M.U.D. Basnayake disclosed yesterday.

 Basnayake told The Island the tri-forces Commanders had already appointed a committee in that regard and work was underway to ascertain the legitimate land owners of those areas.

 He said President Sirisena had advised him and the three Commanders that apart from sensitive and vulnerable areas and lands that had a direct relevance to the three forces, remaining plots should be returned to the rightful owners.

The Island reliably learns shortly there would also be major changes in the Administrative channels in the north and east.

 The newly appointed Defence Secretary also said that plans were underway to send all essential items to the north and east other than dangerous items such as weapons and explosives which were banned even in other parts of the country.

 Their prime focus was to continue with development work, while making sure masses faced no hindrance, he said adding that the Treasury had endorsed the recommendation and funds would be made available accordingly. 

Meanwhile, another committee is to be appointed to look into the welfare of the three forces, under which they would look into the welfare and betterment of the soldiers and others.ARMY TAKES OVER