Govt. placing Mahaweli lands under Divisional Secretaries: SLPP rebels see sinister move
Posted on November 17th, 2022

By Saman Indrajith Courtesy The Island

Budget 2023 has sought to deprive the farming community of their land rights by placing the Mahaweli lands under the purview of Divisional and District Secretaries, SLPP dissident MP Prof. Channa Jayasumana says.

This proposal will take away the farmers’ rights to land. Farmers of Mahaweli lands in 15 districts and their children, will be affected by this move,” Prof Jayasumana said, participating in the debate on Budget 2023.

He said Mahaweli Project encompased 39 percent of the country’s landmass and 55 percent of the lands of the dry zone.

Proposal No: 13 says: Although preliminary activities related to the disposal of government lands are carried out by District Secretaries/Government Agents through Divisional Secretaries/Additional Government Agents, at a later stage such duties were also allocated to Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority and the Land Reform Commission which were established for special requirements. It is reported that there are occurrences of discrimination and malpractice as preliminary activities related to disposal of lands are done in various ways by the respective entities. Therefore, as the aforementioned special requirements have already been met, a programme will be prepared during the next year to enable preliminary activities in relation to the disposal of all government lands, including the disposal of lands under the above two institutions, only by the Divisional Secretaries.’

This will enable the government politicians and their cronies to grab the Mahaweli land, Prof Jayasumana said.

A single call from a politician to the Divisional Secretary would help them grab land, he said.

The proposal would be a threat to national security, Prof Jayasumana said.

Budget 2023 does not offer practical solutions. It is only a concept paper. Instead of an action plan, it offers a theoretical framework. There are some positive proposals, such as amalgamating several public sector institutions working in the same field on the same subjects, is a worthy proposal if implemented properly. It is also proposed to digitize such institutions’ work. That the government has to do with utmost care, because we have the experience of what happened when some public sector institutions digitalized their services during the past 20 years. That process has been given to only a few institutes, known for corruption and frauds. As a result of these digitalization processes some international criminals have obtained Lankan passports. When we go for digitalization, we must understand that we have five cables via this country that receives internet data. These submarine cables come to the country via Colombo Fort, Mount Lavinia and Matara. These five cables are currently owned by Sri Lanka Telecom. It is the very same institute that is proposed to be restructured by this Budget. There is no need for restructuring the SLT. It has already been restructured. As a result of that restructuring, the Treasury owns only 49.2 percent share value, while a Malaysian company, by the name of Maxis, owns 44.5 percent and six percent by the public. There is no need for restructuring what is being planned to do is to sell its remaining shares.

SLT has recorded Rs 2,042 million profit in the first nine months of this year. We know that when SLT is given away the prices from Mobitel to Peo TV will be increased. In addition, the SLT has 3.5 acre land in Colombo Fort, seven acre land at Welikada, 37-acre land in Padukka with satellite equipment too would be sold. If the SLT is sold, we’ll lose our data security and that would affect the country’s cyber security. Selling the SLT off is a serious threat to the national security of the country,” Prof Jayasumana said.

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