New Delhi fails to update Jaffna on Palaali airport plans

[TamilNet, Friday, 20 July 2018, 22:09 GMT]
SL Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe has repeatedly been claiming that Colombo was proceeding with its plans to renovate the runway at Palaali in Jaffna with Indian assistance allowing flight services from South India to Jaffna. There were also reports that New Delhi was reviewing a plan for “regional airport” as before the times of war. In the meantime, the occupying military of Colombo, which has been deploying Palaali runway as its airbase since 1977, is rushing ahead with planting coconut and palmyra saplings in the lands seized from the uprooted Tamils in five GS divisions. The SL authorities have taken the lands citing a war-time Gazette notification from 07 August 1987. However, the office of the Consulate General of India (CGI) in Jaffna, has no information from New Delhi regarding India's plans on the airport, informed sources at the Northern Provincial Council said.

The Northern Provincial Council, which has sought an update from the CGI in Jaffna, has not received any information regarding the Indian review of the plan.

The uprooted people from Valikaamam North have repeatedly urged the NPC to clarify the Indian position on the matter as Colombo was permanently militarising their lands citing expansion of the runway.

Colombo's military is only interested in strengthening the airstrip for its military purposes. The SL military views the plans for “regional airport” as contradictory to its blueprint of Sinhala militarisation of Valikaamam North.

Colombo's unitary system is also not interested in upgrading Palaali airport into an international airport as it wants Eezham Tamils and the Tamil diaspora to use the Colombo International Airport.

It is under these circumstances, the resumption of flights from the airports in South India to Palaali airport is viewed as a positive step by the Eezham Tamils. However, this should not come at the prize of uprooted people losing more lands. They are also concerned that the project should not end up strengthening the military occupation of Valikaamam North further.

In May 2018, the SL authorities moved on to permanently seize the lands in the five GS areas of Then-Mayilai (Mayiliddi South J/240), Mayiliddi North (J/246), Palaali West (J/256), Palaali South (J/252) and Kurumpasiddi (J/242) in Valikaamamam North citing the expansion of Palaali Airport.

Letter from Divisional Secretary of Valikaamam North
Notice issued by Thellippazhai Divisional Secretary in May 2018 on surveying lands grabbed in five GS divisions for the alleged expansion of Palaali airport


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