Navy occupation leaves cattle on the road

[TamilNet, Friday, 31 October 2003, 01:00 GMT]
Sri Lanka Navy has barred cattle from grazing in Attavaniakulam pastureland in Thampalakamam in Trincomalee district as the pastureland falls within the newly expanded High Security Zone (HSZ), security sources said. While the cattle breeders bemoan the loss of prime grazing area, farmers are scrambling to safeguard their paddy crops in more than 5000 acres from wandering cattle.

The Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) after consultation with President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge last week told Trincomalee district parliamentarian Mr.R.Sampanthan that an alternate site in Vilankulam will be allocated for the animals to graze.

"The site at Vilankulam is totally unsuitable for grazing as it is situated close to the Monkey Bridge army camp and is generally used by the army for physical training and target practice,” said Mr. Sampanthan, rejecting SLN's offer of an alternate area for grazing.

The naval camp at Kalmuttian in Thampalakamam area is at least eight kilometers away from the boundary of the pastureland at Attavanaikulam.

The SLN took objection in early 2003 to the cattle breeders taking their cattle to the pastureland at Attavanaikulam though sanctioned by the relevant civil authorities.

“The presence of security installations, human habitation and agricultural land close to the alternate site at Vilankulam make it unsuitable for grazing of around 5000 heads of cattle,” said Mr.Sampanthan in a letter to the President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge.

Mr.Sampanthan said in his letter to Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge,” I consider it necessary to keep you informed of the position of the cattle breeders and farmers of Thampalakamam in the Trincomalee district. I have been informed by Rear Admiral Karanagoda, Commander of the naval Base in Trincomalee that he has discussed this matter with you. It is my hope that you will give due consideration to the plight of the farmers."

Mr.Sampanthan held discussion regarding this matter with the Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe on October 16th and with the Defense Secretary Mr. Austin Fernando and Navy Commander Daya Sandagiri on October 17th. On the request by Admiral Daya Sandagiri Mr.Sampanthan talked to Trincomalee naval commander Rear Admiral Karanagoda on October 18th.

“Cattle breeders and farmers are unable to take their cattle to the pastureland identified and earmarked as such in 1982, though civilian authorities have no objection to their doing so, as clearly indicated by the Senior Superintendent of Police in his letter to the Thampalakamam Divisional Secretary,” said Mr.Sampanthan.

Mr.Sampanthan further said," The cattle breeders and farmers are in a desperate situation once again. The entire extent of paddy land in Thampalakamam has been sown with paddy. The cattle cannot be kept at Thampalakamam village, they have to be taken to the pasture land."


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