Getting Back Sampur Lands A “Very Big” Achievement, Says TNA

The government is committed to returning, in phases, 818 acres occupied by civilian agencies and 237 acres held by the Lankan navy.

Published: 23rd August 2015 05:34 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd August 2015 10:34 PM   |  A+A-

COLOMBO: Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R.Sampanthan has described the Maithripala Sirisena government’s decision to return 1055 acres of  land to the Tamil farmers of Sampur in Sri Lanka’s  Eastern Province, as a “very big achievement” of the struggle to get back lands seized during the war.

On Saturday, President Sirisena and former President Chandrika Kumaratunga ceremonially handed over lands deeds to 25 of the 1272 families displaced from Sampur in 2006, at the start of Eelam War IV.

“The refugees’ ten year struggle would not have borne fruit if the results of the January 8 Presidential election and the August 17 parliamentary elections were  different,” commented Kumarasamy Nakesvaran, President of the Sampur Displaced Persons’ Welfare Association. .

“Between the two elections, government officials were wary of returning the lands because they feared that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa might come back to power as Prime Minister and reverse the Sirisena  government’s policy, Nakesvaran told Express.

The government is committed to returning, in phases, 818 acres occupied by civilian agencies and 237 acres held by the Lankan navy. So far, 285 families have returned.

Indian Power Plant

However, the returnees are worried about the environmental impact of the 500 MW Indian built coal fired power plant to come up in  Sampur.

“This is an agricultural area with 30 to 40 irrigation tanks. A coal-based power plant will spoil the atmosphere. We have requested India to shift it and provide us facilities for agricultural, small scale industrial and tourism development.Foul Point could be developed as a tourist resort,” Nakesvaran said.

TNA Cautious

But TNA leader Sampanthan was more cautious.

“Some bilateral agreements on Sampur have already been signed. At present we need to concentrate on agricultural development, housing and employment. We could take up other problems as we go along,” he said.

Indian officials said that a detailed study of the environmental impact is being done. At any rate, locating the plant at Sampur was not India’s idea but former President Rajapaksa’s, who wanted to turn the strategically located Sampur into a Centrally-administered industrial area. India’s choice was China Bay, next to the Trincomalee harbor, but Rajapaksa forced it to agree to Sampur.

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