SLN claims Thampalakamam pastureland as HSZ

[TamilNet, Saturday, 01 March 2003, 23:09 GMT]
Hundreds of cattle farmers in the predominantly Tamil village, Thampalakamam, in the Trincomalee district have almost lost their livelihood following a ban by the Sri Lanka Navy to use pastureland allocated close to the Attavanaikulam tank for their cattle to graze. The Sri Lanka Navy has imposed the ban stating that about one thousand acres of pastureland in Attavanaikulam comes under the high security zone, agricultural sources said.

The farmers who depend solely on the income from selling milk, curd and other related byproducts now find it difficult to get maximum produce as more than eight thousand heads of cattle have to be kept tied in their small residential plot of land, the sources added.

Thampalakamam, an agricultural village, is situated twenty-four km off west of the eastern port town on the Trincomalee-Kandy highway, where paddy is cultivated and no pastureland is available. The Attavanaikulam pastureland is situated close to this village.

Following complaints by cattle farmers, a conference was held Thursday at the Divisional Secretariat at Thampalakamam, which was attended by the Government Agent, Mr.N.P.K. Nelumdeniya, Trincomalee district parliamentarian, Mr.R.Sampanthan, National List parliamentarian, Mr.K.Thurairetnasingham, SLN officials and several government and provincial council officials.

When Mr.Sampanthan wanted to visit the site at Attavanaikulam, SLN officials refused to allow him and others to enter the pastureland without getting permission from higher authorities. Mr.Sampanthan immediately contacted the Secretary of the Ministry of Defence and Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Daya Sandagiri, over the phone from the Thampalakamam DS office. Thereafter the SLN local officials allowed a team comprising two parliamentarians, the government agent, representatives of farmers and provincial council officials to visit the site, the sources said.

Another conference regarding the pastureland was held at the Trincomalee district secretariat on Friday. Now the authorities have been requested to submit a report on the possibility of removing the ban on farmers to allow their cattle to graze in the pastureland which had been allocated for the same purpose several years ago by civil authorities, the sources said.

 

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