Feature Article

Sinhalicisation targets strategic Pulmoaddai, Muslims complain

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 10 May 2017, 22:55 GMT]
Tamil-speaking Muslims four GS divisions that come under Pulmoaddai, which is situated 52 kilometres north of Trincomalee, are now being confronted by Sinhala colonists from the bordering Sinhala-majoritarian division of Padavi Sri Pura, complain Muslim activists in the East. Pulmoaddai, located in Kuchchave'li division of Trincomalee district, is bordering Mullaiththeevu district in the North and the lagoon of Kokku’laay separates the two districts. The Ilmenite-rich Pulmoaddai lies on the southern edge of the lagoon. The hinterland in the northwest was made part of Sinhalicised Ma'na'l-aa'ru (Weli Oya) military zone in early 1980s and was transformed into a Sinhala-only division after the genocidal onslaught on Vanni in 2009. The occupying Colombo is now moving ahead with its plan of Sinhalicisation targeting Pulmoaddai.

Colombo's Sinhalicisation is being advanced through military, its Archaeology, Forest, Coastal Preservation and Wild-Life departments as well as its corporate outfit ‘Lanka Mineral Sands Limited’ and its subsidiary ‘Pulmoddai Mineral Sands Company’.

Sinhala businessmen such as Nandana Lokuwithana, have already invested millions of rupees targeting foreign revenues through exploiting the sand deposits in the country of Tamil-speaking people.

The plan for Sinhalicisation started already in 1957 when Colombo launched Sand Corporation. Sinhala engineers and technicians were brought in.

The location of Kokku'laay village and lagoon. [Satellite map courtesy: Google Earth]

Pulmoaddai has one of the richest deposits of Titanium ore in the world. The sands in the area contain ilmenite and rutile, raw materials for manufacturing Titanium Dioxide. Almost 5 million tons of ilmenite are known to be in the region.

The factory processed sand excavated from the beaches of Pulmoaddai, to separate Ilmenite and Rutile ores for export.

The SL government's main customers for Ilmenite were Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha Ltd. (Japan), ACI (US), Derby & Co (British), Currumbin Minerals Ltd. (Australia), and Rare Earth's Ltd. (India's state-owned firm).

But, Colombo's plans to build multi-million dollar plant in Pulmoaddai to produce Titanium Dioxide in 1989 were shelved after war broke out between the Tigers and the Sri Lanka Army in June 1990. LTTE's Sea Tigers also sank two ships that were loading Ilmenite sand off the Pulmoaddai coast in 1996 and 1997.

Kokku'laay to Trincomalee
The Eastern coast from Kokku'laay to Trincomalee [Satellite Image courtesy: Google Earth. Legend by TamilNet]

But, after 2009 the exploitation has come to a big-scale and is also targeting the entire coastal stretch from Nilaave’li to Mullaiththeevu for future mineral excavation. Sinhalicisation, militarisation and corporate exploitation are being skilfully advanced.

During the late 1980's and in the beginning of 90's, some Sinhala villagers from Padavi Sri Pura were brought into Pulmoaddai and nearby Tamil village of Thennai-maravadi by the notorious Sinhala army commander, the late Lt Gen Denzel Kobbekaduwa, under the cover of giving protection to Sinhala villagers from the LTTE (Kobbekaduwa was killed by the LTTE in a landmine ambush at Araalith-thu’rai in Jaffna on 08 August, 1992).

It was only after 2004 Tsunami, the Sinhalicisation plan of Pulmoaddai was set in motion through housing schemes to Sinhala settlers. But, Sinhala people were not prepared to settle in large numbers due to the war.

After 2010, Sinhala families were being brought in by SL military, especially in places where it was having military positions. The Colonisation trend is now being taken over by Colombo's ministries that talk about ‘development’.

The SL military commanders started to donate huts and lands to Sinhala women who were selling curd and dry fish, Muslim activists say.

Padavi Sri Pura demographic changes target Sinhalicisation of Thennai-maravadi and Pulmoaddai
Tamil village of Thennaimaravadi and Tamil-speaking Muslim villages in Pulmoaddai are being systematically targeted through demographic changes taking place through the bordering Padavi Sri Pura Sinhala division

Ethnic pattern of administrative divisions in Trincomalee district
Ethnic pattern of administrative divisions in Trincomalee district [Image courtesy: SL Department of Census and Statistics, Trincomalee District, - Preliminary Report - Based on Special Enumeration - 2007]
Plans are also afoot to silently annex areas from three Sinhala villages in the bordering Padavi Sri Pura division with Kuchchave'li division in order to change its demography, the Tamil-speaking Muslims say. Sinhala settlers from Mee-gas-wewa near 10th Mile Post and Tsunami Dhammanawewa are moving into the lands in Pulmoaddai. Thennai-maravadi, a nearby Tamil village, has already been encroached by Sinhala colonists.

The Muslim activists have been confronting Colombo through Muslim politicians to declare Pulmoaddai and adjoining Muslim villages into a separate administrative division.

Four GS divisions (31I, 31H, 31G and 31J) constitute Pulmoaddai. There are 24 GS divisions in Kuchchave’li DS division.

According to statistics obtained from Trincomalee District Secretariat, there were only 412 Sinhala people (1.6%) in the entire Kuchchave'li division in 2007.

According to 2012 Population Census, there were 21,307 (64.4%) Tamil-speaking Muslims, 10,553 (31.9%) Eezham Tamils and 1,193 (3.6%) Sinhala people in Kuchchave'li division.

Around 350 Sinhala families have occupied the lands in Pulmoaddai after 2012. If the encroachment takes place at this rate, Sinhala settlers would be eligible to elect a Sinhala candidate in the elections for local civic bodies in the coming elections, the Muslim activists told TamilNet.

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