Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D. M. Swaminathan has, in a letter to TNA and Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, said Mullaitivu land issues raised by the former have already been addressed.
A spokesperson for the ministry yesterday told The Island that Minister Swaminathan was in touch with relevant administrative, military and civilian representatives. The ministry made available a copy of Minister Swaminathan’s letter to Opposition Leader Sampanthan. It read: “With reference to your letter which is addressed to H E President dated 9th November 2017 regarding the land at Keppapilavu in Mullaitivu District belonging to the displaced Tamil civilians, I wish to state the following:
“It should be noted that on 03rd of May 2017 on payment of a sum of Rs.5 Mn. 189 acres of land was released on the 19th of July 2017 in Keppapilavu at the Mullative District.
“In respect of the release of 111 acres of land I wish to state that when the people were agitating in Keppapilavu I personally visited and met the people who were deemed to be on hunger strike. The Hon.Member of Parliament Mrs.Shanthini Sriskandaraja was also present during the alleged hunger strike.
Although they tried to prevent me from entering, I went right into the Army Commander’s Office in Mullaitivu and discussed this issue with the Army Commander.
“On my return I summoned a meeting at the Ministry office on the 26th of July 2017 where the following Officers were present:
• Hon.R.Sampanthan M.P. – Leader of the Opposition
• Hon.Member of Parliament Douglas Devananda
• 07 representatives of Keppapilavu land owners
• Representative of the, Defence Secretary
• Representative of Army Commander
• Representative of the Mullaitivu Security Force
• Representative of the Chief Minister Northern Province
• Representative of the Treasury Secretary
• Representative of the Government Agent Mullaitivu
“At this meeting I explained the output of the discussion I had with the representative of the Army Commander in Mullaitivu. Subsequently a Cabinet Paper was submitted in this regard and the approval of the Cabinet was granted on the 01st of August 2017 to release Rs.148 Mn. and the Treasury had already released this amount on the 24th of August 2017 for the initial shifting cost by the Ministry. However, the representative of the Army Commander agreed to release 111 acres of land from the Keppapilavu Army Camp before the end of 2017.
“The balance 73 acres was also discussed at the above meeting but the Army had not given any conclusive decision regarding the release of the balance 73 acres.
“The Army gave us an assurance that the buildings situated in the area released at Keppapilavu will not be demolished which can be utilized by the people. I had been speaking to Major A.R.Obeysekera of the Mullaitivu Camp and he confirmed that the permanent buildings situated at Keppapilavu land will not be demolished and these can be utilized by the Keppapilavu civilians for whatever purposes they want.
“From January 2015 up to July 2017 4830.41 acres of land had been released in the Northern Province.”