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REPORT ON MAN - LAND & WATER VIS-A VIS NORTH/EAST
CONFLICT

The current peace talks should consider carefully the acute problem of land. The government, the Norwegians & the other nations of the free world must realize that if this is ignored and not resolved both in the short term & the long term, a far bigger crisis seems inevitable.

Wars are fought for land & water. The Eelam war is no different. When negotiations begin the main demand will be couched in many euphemisms and confusing terminology. It will be - "Let the North & East be a homogenous region where only Tamils can live". The LTTE will oppose what they call State Aided settlements. They will attempt one subterfuge after the other to chase away the few Sinhalese who remain in the North & East. The Muslims will be dealt with later.
The Accelerated Mahaweli Programme, of Victoria - Kotmale - Randenigala - Rantembe Ulhitiya & Madura Oya, the Kalawewa scheme the proposed Yan Oya basin, The Malwathu Oya schemes are paid for by the tax payers of this country, comprising 75% Sinhalese. The LTTE wants the Sinhalese to pay for the development of the North & East, While excluding them from the fruits of such development. The Northern & Eastern plains were developed because.
1. The availability of Land
2. Fertile Land
3. Exploding population in the South
4. Sparse population in the North & East.
5. Non availability of Land in the South

The LTTE has ethnically cleansed the North and a part of the East of the Sinhalese. The Muslims remain in the East. They were chased from the North.
The Southern Land masses in 43367 sq. Km.
About 25% of this Land is not available for habitation. This is because. The Tea Rubber & Coconut Plantations, Yala, Wasgamuwa, Lahugala, Minneriya, Bundala, Uda Walawa, Kalametiya, Sanctuaries are in the South. Sinharaja - Kikiliyamana & Peak wilderness are Southern Protected areas. This will amount to more then 25% of the Southern Land mass.
Note - since 1981 - 5% - 10% or 150,000 - 300,000 Tamil people moved to the South
Official figures may indicate a more serious situation.
This would be the situation today.
SQ/KM Population Persons/per sq. Percentage
Km
The population density in the
North -East 21284.6 2982240 140.11 16.57% North & East
Is 140 persons
South 32525.55 15017560 461.72 83.43% per/sq./km.
In the south it is
Not available 10841.00 461per/sq/km 18000000 278.41 100%


The LTTE prevented the completion of the 2001 census because the Tamils have fled Jaffna. The present population distribution & changing demographic pattern must be identified.
These figures are based on a notional figure of a population of 18 million, maintaining the same proportion as in 1981. The actual figure may be much higher.
60% of our population is below 30 years of age. 40% of this 60% is between 20 and 30 years of age, yet to get married find employment, land, to live on their own. When these factors are considered the true dimensions of the Land problem becomes evident. The population density of the south is almost 3 times higher than the North & East.
Water flows from the wet zone montane hills to the North & East to settle the excess population. The LTTE is seeking to exclude the people from the South moving into these lands. If this is allowed it can result in the people from the South preventing the flow of water to the plains. This can result in a war for water.
The source of the main rivers is the hill Country which is predominantly populated by Tamils. The issue will also be internationalized, and the world sympathy will be with the people to whom water is denied.
The excess population of the South has to move into the North & East. This was the rice bowl of the past and the cradle of our civilization.
More than 5% - 10% of the Tamils from the North are living in the South. The LTTE seeks to achieve an exclusive territory in the North & East, maintaining a substantial presence in the South. The demography of Colombo the capital city has changed with the Tamils & Muslims being in the majority. Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Matara, Ratnapura, Kegalla, Moneragala, Kalutara, Galle, also contain large concentrations of Tamils.
The LTTE knows that a state of Eelam cannot be viable without this Islands greatest wealth. The Tea & Rubber plantations and fountains of water. These areas are populated by Indian Tamil workers. The Tamil leadership & the LTTE looked upon the plantation Tamils with distrust & scorn.
Now they seem to be bending over backwards to seek common cause with them. Thus the 4th of the Thimpu principles. (4) All Tamils resident in Sri Lanka are entitled to citizenship.
To an observer without a clear Idea of the demography and the geopolitics of Sri Lanka, the plantations seem far away from Eelam. This is not so. The plantations are almost adjoining the Eastern province which is a part of the proposed state of Eelam.
Badulla is a plantation district. The Badulla Passara Lunugala Maha Oya road joins up at Chenkaladi, which is in the Batticaloa district. Shawlands/ Adawatta, Yapame are all plantations very close to the border of Batticaloa. There is only one intervening village. Once access is gained to Lunugala the plantation belt is contiguous to Nuwara Eliya, Udapussellawa on the one side, Pussellawa & Gampola on the other. From Badulla the plantation belt runs up to Kegalla. Badulla, Haputale,Balangoda Pelmadulla Ratnapura Yatiyantota etc. The LTTE is looking enviously at the plantations.
This geopolitical configuration needs serious attention. If ignored disaster stares at this Island Nation.


Malinga H. Gunaratne


The author points out an oversight in the Report. The reservoirs in the South have not been included. The water surface of the Victoria reservoir alone is equal to the ground surface of Singapore. The addition of reservoirs coupled with the actual figures now obtainable from the Survey Department and the Department of Census and Statistics would portray the problem to be far more serious.

Urmila Bodinagoda


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