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Doubts emerge over Sri Lanka's 'new' 1000 acre resettlement plan

A proportion of the  recently announced 1000 acre government resettlement plan in the Jaffna Valikamam High Security Zone (HSZ), was previously deemed unacceptable by Tamil families, reports the Uthayan.

Speaking to Tamil Guardian, Northern Provincial Councillor, Ananthy Sasitharan, said that the Tamil people had previously rejected the plan as the scheme did not resettle them to their original lands. Commenting on the new government's resettlement proposals for the displaced families in Valikamam, Ms Sasitharan said that the same issues of not allowing families to resettle in their original traditional lands remained.

The TNA spokesperson Suresh Premachandran speaking at a press conference on Friday, noted that there were at least 18 military run hotels in the Tamil areas that would have to be demolished to make way for resettlement.

At lease 220 acres of  the current 1000 acre resettlement plan was initiated by the former Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, and previously deemed inadequate by the Tamil people.

Under phase one of the proposed project, 220 acres of land will be released to establish a pilot village were families will be given land and financial assistance to build a house, whilst the Sri Lankan government will provide further infrastructure including schools and hospitals, reports Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence.

Reiterating that Sri Lankan armed forces would not be undermined by Tamil resettlement, Sri Lankan Minister of Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Religious Affairs M Swaminathan,  said,

"This is no way an effort to undermine the forces nor is it limited to the north and east."

Mr Swaminathan added that the model village proposal would be reconsidered as it was previously opposed. There are currently discussions taking place to ensure that the scheme hands the land back to whoever previously owned the land.

A further announcement on the issue is expected form the government cabinet.

In November 2013, 150 families who were displaced from the Valikamam HSZ were offered to be resettled in lands east of their original place of residency, in what was reported as an attempt to improve Sri Lanka's image ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that took place in Colombo.

A total of 6,152 acres of land in the Valikamam region is currently maintained by the Sri Lankan military as a HSZ.

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