SLA returns 450-acres paddy fields back to Thenmaradchchi farmers

[TamilNet, Saturday, 17 July 2004, 19:55 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Saturday handed over 450 acres of paddy lands in Maravanpulo village, which come under the high security zone of Thenmaradchchi south division, to the Jaffna District Government Agent Mr.S.Pathmanathan, civil sources said. According to records maintained by the GA, SLA is currently occupying more than three thousand acres of paddy lands in this division for the last four years.

The handing over event took place Saturday in a temporary shelter built for this purpose in Maravanpulo-Kollankirai area, sources said.

"The Maha paddy cultivation is to start in September in Jaffna district. One-sixth of the paddy produced in the Jaffna district comes from Thenmaradchchi division. Therefore I request the SLA to return rest of paddy lands without further delay," the Government Agent appealed to the SLA officials present at the occasion.

Commanding Officer of the SLA's 52nd Brigade Mr.T.R. Jayawardene, Thenmaradchchi Divisional Secretary Mr.S.Srinivasan, Jaffna District Assistant Commissioner of Agrarian Services Mr.K.Suntheralingam and representatives of Farmers' Societies attended the event.

The SLA officials handed over a section of paddy lands stating that the lands are free of mines.

Earlier the SLA had informed the Jaffna civil authorities they would hand over one thousand acres of more than three thousand acres, which are under its occupation, to farmers. But now it has handed over only 450 acres, sources said.


Jaffna Ariyalai


However, the balance of 1000 acres could be returned to the farmers during the first part of next year after clearing of landmines, an official of the SLA participating in the event said.

Two representatives of US demining group, which is assisting the SLA in locating and removing mines from the paddy lands, also participated in the event, sources said.

Meanwhile, cultivators residing in Thanankilappu village in Thenmaradchchi division have expressed their disappointment that the SLA has failed to announce its stand on returning their paddy lands inside the HSZ, sources said.

 

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