By Siva Sivapragasam
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga flew to Jaffna this week on an important symbolic visit to distribute title deeds of lands in the former High Security Zones being returned to families displaced by the war.
Mr.D.M. Swaminathan who is the Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister also accompanied the national leaders on their visit to Jaffna. The ceremonial distribution of the title deeds is part of the expedited program of post-war reconciliation. Land title deeds to all other displaced families will be presented before the end of March, Minister Swaminathan told the Sunday Observer newspaper.
The problem of property demarcation and basic utilities faced by the families who already visited their lands in Vasavilan East, Valigamam North and Palaly South was brought to the notice of President Maithripala Sirisena and the other leaders accompanying him during the visit.
Releasing High Security Zone lands in Valigamam North back to the owners is one of the pledges of the new Government’s 100-day program. It was decided at the last District Committee meeting in Jaffna to release 1,000 acres to their rightful owners.
There had been a continuous demand for the release of army occupied land in the Northern peninsula from the time of the previous government and was vociferously espoused by the TNA and the Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran. The previous regime had maintained that the land in the high security zone was needed by the army for it’s use and for security reasons.
The new regime however decided to return such lands to the rightful, legal owners.