COLOMBO: The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, will discuss with President Maithripala Sirisena next Thursday, the obstacles encountered in the release of lands seized by the Lankan military, and the difficulties faced by the original civilian owners in occupying the released lands.
Express learns that Wigneswaran will tell the President about the army’s withholding lands earmarked for return on the plea that lands already released have not been occupied by the original civilian owners.
He would also tell the President that the army should hand over lands in a useable form.
While the President has asked the army to give back private lands it is not using, a section of the army is holding on to the earmarked lands on the grounds that lands already handed over are not being occupied by the original owners, it is reliably learnt.
Explaining the civilians’ behavior, an aid worker said that civilians in the former war zone, who had lived for up to 40 years as displaced persons, do not have the wherewithal to clear the land and restore the water sources. Lands returned are overgrown with jungle, and the wells are not useable.
The Northern Chief Minister will ask the President for funds to rehabilitate the lands by activating agencies like the Rehabilitation of Persons, Properties and Industries Authority (REPPIA), which ought to give LKR 250,000 for building damaged houses and LKR 500,000 for restoring crippled industries..
The Rehabilitation Ministry Secretary, REPPIA Director and an NGO are already working on a rehabilitation and reparations scheme. The Northern Provincial Council will also be involved in the planning and execution of the scheme.