SL Governor's latest land grab poses danger to archaeological traces of Eezham Tamils

[TamilNet, Sunday, 13 October 2019, 22:15 GMT]
SL Governor to North Mr Suren Raghavan is attempting to alienate 115 acres of lands at Kauthaari-munai in Ma'na'niththa'lai sandbar of Poo-nakari (Pooneryn) division to a private Tamil diaspora business person from Australia before his Governor term expires. Mr Raghavan is deceptively suppressing objections from the Tamil civil sources and the grassroots activists in Ki'linochchi district, informed grassroots activists in Poonakari told TamilNet. The 25 km long sandbar, which extends towards the Jaffna Peninsula from Poonakari in the main island, is of immense natural beauty and archaeological value to the Eezham Tamils. The area is dotted with archaeological remains ranging from microlithic/megalithic times to the times of the Dutch, covered by massive sand dunes.

Large-scale alienation of lands, industrialisation and ‘development’ programmes would destroy the heritage traces, Tamil activists complain. They also warn about environmental consequences.

After 2009, large-scale sand scooping was reported in Ma’n’nith-thidal, which is a landmass of sand dunes, projecting towards Jaffna, from the Poonakari part of Vanni mainland.

However, protests from heritage and environment-related activists put a temporary stop to the destruction.

The illegal sand scooping continued in Vadamaraadchi East causing salinity, says environmentalist Thangarajah Kandeepan.

The hurried attempt and its timing cause severe doubts regarding the intentions behind the move, he said. If the lands are transferred as the SL Governor wants, Kauthaari-munai would be affected by an environmental disaster, Mr Kandeepan said.

During the times of Rajapaksa rule, the SL State was also trying to put up a star hotel in the area. The civic council worked hard to stop it. Now, the SL Governor seems to have convinced the council and individual TNA parliamentarians not to protest against his move.

Poonakari, KKS & Palaali
[Satellite Image Courtesy: NASA, Visible Earth. Details & Legend: TamilNet]

The Eezham Tamil legacy of Poo-nakari (meaning the city of flowers) and the region around it is of much antiquity going back to the times of proto-history and Tamil Brahmi inscriptions.

The region was a major route of communication between the Peninsula and the main island since ancient times until the early 19th century.

The suffix Nakari is a variation for Nakar in old Tamil. Identical to place names like Aazhvaar Thiru-nakari in Tamil Nadu on the opposite coast, and connected to Negeri in Malay, Poo-nakari is a name retaining an ancient linguistic strain.

The strategic location of Poonakari have made all the European colonial powers –the Portuguese, Dutch, and the English to maintain a station there.

It became Pooneryn in the colonial records.

Ma'n'niththalai sand dunes
The Ma'n'niththalai sandbar showing sand deposited by the Southwest Wind. This sand largely comes from disintegrated coral of Adams Bridge reef and is white in colour. [Satellite Image Courtesy: Google Earth]

Kauthaari-munai and the borders of LTTE and SL military controlled areas in 2008

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