Feature Article

Law to take over private lands in Tamil Homeland

[TamilNet, Monday, 05 December 2011, 12:09 GMT]
Whilst the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) has been in the past taking over lands in the Tamil Homeland under the guise of High security Zones (HSZ) they have now surreptitiously introduced a Bill in the Parliament to amend the ‘Town and Country Planning Ordinance’ in an effort to take over even private lands belonging to Tamils in Tamil dominated areas under various religious and historical pretexts, writes a legal practitioner and human rights activist in the Eastern Province.

Out of 18,800 square km of land in the Northeast, the occupying Army is said to have already taken over 7,000 square kilometres of land after May 2009.

In Champoor in Trincomaalee District 10,000 acres of land has been declared as High Security Zone (HSZ), citing the construction of a Coal powered Electricity Plant with the collaboration of India, which in fact does not need more than 500 acres at the most.

This HSZ is going to affect the livelihood of almost 10,000 Tamil-speaking people of the area who are primarily Paddy cultivators and fishermen. In addition, the hazardous nature of the coal plant with environmental pollution will affect not only the immediate vicinity but also a larger area.

3000 acres of land has been acquired by GOSL for a Buddhist Vihara in Thiriyaay, a traditional Tamil village in Trincomalee District.

Large extents of land have been acquired in Vanni, said to be for developmental projects but are being actually occupied by the Army.

The present effort to amend the ‘Town and country planning Ordinance’ is the ploy most probably of Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the Defence Secretary as Urban Development now comes under the Defence Ministry.

Having exhausted all the avenues to take over lands of Tamils this would seem to be a process to make inroads into Tamil owned areas in the towns which they could not do otherwise.

The circular issued by the Land Commissioner General recently to register private lands in the Northeast is perhaps another ploy in this direction.

The step taken by the Supreme Court not to give a decision on this new Bill is a correct one. The three member Bench comprising of the CJ Shiranee Bandaranaike, S.S.Pavan J and Chandra Ekanayake J, have said that it was in violation of Section 154G of the Constitution as the subject of land comes under the Provincial list and hence the Bill should have been referred to every Provincial council after having been gazetted for their consent before it is placed on the Order Paper of Parliament. If not it cannot become a law.

Irrespective of the inadequacy of the 13th Amendment it shows the mindset of the GOSL in that knowing pretty well that the Eastern Provincial Council will not consent to such amendment they wanted to do it otherwise.

That GOSL modes operandi also clearly shows that unless Eezham Tamils are vested with sovereignty of the land of their nation, such a colonial-minded land grab and annihilation of their nation could never be stopped.


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