More Jaffna land being released to owners by military

Devananda accuses TNA of closing their eyes to the facts

By Shamindra Ferdinando

EPDP leader Douglas Devananda says contrary to allegations, the armed forces are in the process of releasing more land in the Jaffna peninsula to rightful owners.

Devananda, who is in charge of traditional industries and small enterprise development portfolios, alleges those critical of post-war security forces presence in the Jaffna peninsula had ignored the gradual releasing of land.

Minister Devananda was speaking to The Sunday Island in the immediate aftermath of the armed forces vacating three grama niladhari divisions in Madagal (West) in the Jaffna peninsula. The newly released area is located between KKS harbour and Madagal.

Jaffna District MP Devananda said that he was happy to be associated with the ongoing scheme to facilitate the return of the displaced to their villages. Restoration of normalcy in the Northern and Eastern provinces would never have been a reality as long as Prabhakaran lived, the minister said.

`` Tamil speaking people should be grateful to President Mahinda Rajapaksa for eradicating the LTTE to pave the way for genuine national reconciliation,’’ he added.

Addressing one-time IDPs, the minister said that the government would meet their requirements until they could stand on their feet again. Northern Area Naval Commander, Rear Admiral D.S. Udawatte, too, addressed the gathering. He explained the circumstances under which civilian properties were being released and people allowed to move back to their land.

Devananda lambasted the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) for failing to appreciate the remarkable change in the ground situation since the conclusion of the conflict. He alleged that the TNA was still pursing LTTE’s agenda though the war ended in May 2009.

An attempt was being made to undermine post-war reconciliation, rehabilitation and resettlement at the expense of those who had suffered during 30 years of bloody conflict. The TNA was making unsubstantiated allegations both here and abroad, though the people were aware of the ground reality, Devananda said.

``The one-time LTTE mouthpiece could no longer deceive the Tamil community,’’ he said.

Responding to a query, Minister Devananda said that since the conclusion of the conflict the presence of the army had been sharply reduced in the Jaffna though the TNA behaved as if additional bases were being set up.

Army deployment in the Jaffna theatre in Dec 2009 comprised 27,000 personnel, whereas current peace time ‘operation’ involved 15,000 personnel. According to army headquarters over 40 per cent of the area covered by Jaffna high security zone, too, had been released in stages line with post-war recovery process.

Devananda said that those trying to undermine the Rajapaksa administration had turned a blind eye to what he called positive developments in the aftermath of the Eelam conflict. Development was taking place apace with the government working with the international community, particularly India.

Responding to a query, the minister emphasized the importance of accelerating the resettlement process in the Northern Province. Any reasonable person would appreciate measures taken by the government to alleviate the difficulties experienced by people living in predominately Tamil speaking areas, he said.

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