Speaking at a meeting during prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to the North on Saturday, TNA MP Shanthi Sriskantharajah highlighted that development efforts were secondary to the need to end and reverse the occupation and appropriation of Tamil lands in Mullaitivu.
“In Mullaitivu District, colonisation is a bigger issue than development. Firstly, our people’s lands were grabbed and given to the Mahaweli Authority through gazette notifications,” Sriskantharajah said. “Moreover, lands are being given here to people of other districts, for example people of Anuradhapura District in the name of Mahaweli. Tanks are being restored but lands are not given to the people who lived here.”
“Furthermore, In Semmalai, a place where not a single Buddhist lives, a statue of Buddha has been constructed. I informed the President and he instructed the construction to be halted. But the Buddha statue was opened as planned. The Pillaiyar Temple which was there has been destroyed.”
“In addition, the people of Keppapulavu have been protesting for two years, requesting their lands to be released. They spoke to you as well. However, the lands have not been released yet. Even now, those people are waiting at the entrance to submit a petition to you. They were not allowed inside.”
“So, before development, you should stop colonisation. The gazette notifications and circulars that were published in the past are the reasons for these encroachments to continue. I respectfully request that you should hold a separate meeting with the Department of Archeology and the Forest Department regarding the Mahaweli development and take necessary action to stop these encroachments.”
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe reportedly responded that he would return to discuss the issues the TNA MP had raised.