Residents of Parangikamam, a village in Manthai West, Mannar have complained that swathes of forest near their area are being illegally deforested by the Sri Lankan government and that their land has become appropriated by private persons and foreigners.
Having gone through several rounds of migration during the armed conflict, the residents finally settled in Parangikamam and petitioned the government for two acres of farmland. Locals although grateful that they were allocated the two acres of farmland, insisted that they are left with no land to live on.
They also expressed frustration that the government has allowed and allocated foreigners and private personnel access to land in the Parangikamam region, but not allowed the children of older residents to have access to land, despite being married and having their own children. Many foreign personnel have been noted to appropriate the areas close to their village.
The residents worry that the deforestation issue has made their predicament worse. “Earlier [they said] we were denied land for agriculture, now we are being denied land to live.”
They also pointed out that deforestation is also taking place in nearby areas to Parangikamam, in areas such as Iluppai Kadavai and Kalliyadi.
Parangikamam residents then requested the authorities to intervene and resolve the land-related issues in their area.
When inquired about the matter of deforestation, S. Ketheeswaran, Manthai West Divisional Secretary, said, “The Forest Department must pay attention to the said issue of deforestation.”
He professed that the Secretariat has not given any permission to appropriation of land or deforestation.
Based on the complaint filed by the residents, parliamentarian Charles Nirmalanathan paid a visit to Parangikamam last Tuesday and inspected the areas which were being deforested and occupied by private individuals.
Nirmalanathan reiterated the issue to Mannar District Secretary and the Manthai West Divisional Secretary and asked them to release the land in question from private ownership and allot them to the people to whom it belongs.