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‘Land meant for poor farmers being granted to the rich!’ - Mannar villagers complain

Members of the Sannar Rural Development Department in Mannar district have complained that state lands meant for public distribution are being allotted to the wealthy instead of the poor people in the village.

Speaking about this issue to the press this morning, the Department’s head Ramasamy Jeyaranjan said, “Even though there are over 100 acres of state-owned land where we live, there is not even half an acre for us to pursue agriculture.”

Jeyaranjan said that they have been living in the villages of Sannar and Periyamadu in Mannar since the 1970s. 

“In terms of sustenance, we are very backward due to the injustice being committed against us,” he said.

“Some well-to-do people, in collaboration with the police, are appropriating state-owned lands meant for our poor farmers.”

Jeyaranjan expressed his disappointment that some government officials are also complicit in these activities.

“When our areas were repopulated in 2011, we informed the Divisional Secretary (of our situation) through the Northern Province Land Commissioner. But we got no results. And the reason is some officials are standing with the wealthy persons,” he added.

“Our means of subsistence and the education of our children are being spoiled because of those officials.”

Jeyaranjan recollected that when parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen was a minister, large acres of land were used to build houses, schools, hospitals and temples.

“But the housing has turned into sheds for cows and sheep instead of sheltering us people,” he lamented.

“But even when we begged for half an acre of land to ensure our sustenance and our children’s education, the officials denied it,” Jeyaranjan said.

He added that some government officials themselves admitted that certain wealthy individuals have been assured of lands in their area.

“Some people are bent on chasing out of this land. An attorney representing the wealthy people reached out to me and asked that the Rural Development Department Head resign from the post in return for a sum of 15 lakh rupees,” he continued.

“I did not accept that offer. Because all the land must rightfully go to the poor farmers. Since all of us farmers have come together to speak out on this issue, I must also add that we might face a threat to our lives and property,” Jeyaranjan added. 

He further appealed that the state-owned land in Sannar be allotted to the poor farmers in that area. 

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