Thenmaradchi farmers ordered to obtain new IDs from SLA

[TamilNet, Thursday, 21 August 2003, 16:31 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army Thursday said farmers who are allowed to do cultivation in the released paddy fields in the high security zone in Thenamaradchi division of the Jaffna district should obtain fresh military identity cards to enter their lands, and that the military identity cards already issued and national identity cards will not be accepted, sources said.

The SLA's decision was conveyed by Lt. Col. Perera of the 521 Brigade of the SLA, located in Thenmaradchi division, at a conference held Thursday morning at Navatkuli-Kovilakandy Mahaluxmi Maha Vidiyalyam, sources said.

The conference was held to discuss problems confronted by farmers and to find ways to start cultivation in the released paddy lands of about 1000 acres. The Thenmaradchi Divisional Secretary, Mr.S.Srinivasan, Kaithady Agrarian Services Centre Divisional Officer, Mr.S.Thavarasa, and Lt.Col. Perera and Lt.Col. Dias of the SLA attended the conference. Farmers' representatives were also present. Representatives of the UK-based Halo Trust de-mining group and the France-based NGO, Action contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger), attended the conference also attended the conference, sources said.

Replying to questions raised by farmers' representatives at the conference, the SLA’s Lt.Col. Perera said the decision to issue new military identity cards had been taken to ensure the security of the area. Those farmers who possess new military identity cards would be allowed to take agricultural labourers to their paddy lands under their responsibility, the army official further said.

A new road would be opened to take tractors and also to enable farmers of Thanankilappu, Maravanpulo, Kaithady and Navatkuli to visit their paddy fields as the earlier route allowed by the SLA was not fit to travel and to take agricultural implements to paddy fields, the SLA official added in response to a question by farmers.

Army official Perera said Halo Trust workers would commence demining work in the released paddy fields on Friday jointly with the SLA soldiers.

Perera handed over a map of the released paddy lands in the HSZ to the representatives of the Halo Trust de-mining group. The map identifies the spots where landmines and unexploded ordnances could be buried, sources said.

During the 1990 military operation, people from Thenamaradchi division fled from their villages and sought refuge elsewhere. Since then, about 5000 acres were not cultivated. Now the SLA has released only about 1000 acres for the forthcoming rain-fed paddy cultivation by the resettled families. However, the SLA has instructed the farmers to enter the land only through the Nunavil-Kollankirai army camp area, sources said

About 600 families from Thenmaradchchi are living elsewhere in the peninsula as the SLA is still preventing them from cultivating their lands, sources said.

Related Articles:
15.08.03   Thenmaradchi farmers riled by SLA's new restrictions
08.08.03   5000 stray cattle threaten paddy crops in Thenmaradchi
31.07.03   SLA releases a fifth of the paddy fields in Thenmaradchi HSZ
11.06.03   NGO to assist farmers affected by HSZ


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