SL Wildlife Department converts farmlands of Tamils in Kokkuth-thoduvaay into sanctuary

[TamilNet, Friday, 26 July 2019, 16:25 GMT]
The Tamil farmers who had been uprooted for 35-years from Kokkuth-thoduvaay in Mullaith-theevu district and managed to return to their village in 2012, lost their low-lying irrigable lands along with reservoirs to Sinhala colonists. Now, the SL Wildlife Conservation Department has seized their upper-lying “Maanaavaari” agricultural lands and converted these into a bird sanctuary. The aim is to wedge the contiguity of the occupied Tamil country’s northern and eastern territories up to the very coastline. Kokkuth-thoduvaay is an agricultural and fisheries village, sandwiched between the lagoon of Kokku'laay and the sea in Karai-thu'raip-pattu division of the Mullaiththeevu district.

Mr Santhirasegaram Kandiah, one of the resettled Tamil farmers in Kokkuth-thoduvaay village, told TamilNet that the Tamil villagers had lost 1,036 acres of low-lying lands to the Mahaweli scheme.

kokkuth-thoduvaay farmlands converted into sanctuary
kokkuth-thoduvaay farmlands converted into sanctuary
kokkuth-thoduvaay farmlands converted into sanctuary
The location of Kokku'laay village and lagoon. [Satellite map courtesy: Google Earth]
The Tamil villagers only managed to get some of their residential lands in Kokkuth-thoduvaay in 2012.

Now, unable to resume their livelihood, they are being forced to displace again, Mr Kandiah said.

Much of the low-lying agricultural lands, including all the irrigation reservoirs (tanks), had been transferred to the Sinhala colonists of Ma'nal-aa'ru (Sinhalicised as Weli-Oya) before 2012.

The ability of Tamil farmers to resume their livelihood was severely hampered.

The Sinhala colony of Welioya was carved out through erasing out the traditional Tamil villages that constituted Ma'nal-aa'ru.

The SL State was using the ‘Mahaweli development’ scheme to Sinhalicise the area. Occupying Colombo's sole aim was to wedge the North and the East demographically to destroy the territorial integrity of the Tamil homeland.

The resettling Eezham Tamils were also not allowed to enter their high-lying farmlands.

Initially, the de-miners working with the occupying SL military didn't allow the resettling farmers to access their high-lying lands citing security reasons.

The farmers call the high-lying agricultural expanse as Maanaavaari (மானாவாரி, Māṉāvāri) lands as the agriculture is carried out depending on seasonal rains without any other irrigation facilities.

The agricultural areas of Ve'l'laik-kalladi, Thee-munthal, Kugnchuk-kaal-ve'li and Koaddaik-kea'ni have been absorbed into the sanctuary, the farmer said.

The Tamil farmers have land deeds from the British times, he further said.

However, the SL Wildlife Conservation Department managed to enter the lands and plant borderstones before the de-mining work completed.

Now, the area has been declared as Kokku'laay Sanctuary. That sanctuary was located 10 km south at Kokku'laay in the past. Now, it has been extended northwards up to Kokkuth-thoduvaay, Kandiah said.

In 2013, the villagers composed a list of the lands they lost. The hand-written list is reproduced below:

* * *

The Mahaweli L scheme, encroaching Sinhala fishers and the expanding Sinhala Buddhicisation are put to work together to change the demography along the border of the Northern and the Eastern provinces.

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