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Sinhalisation of Vavuniya North stepped up

Sinhalisation activities in Vavuniya North forest villages have been continuing rapidly despite opposition from local residents and authorities.

Residents reported that deforestation of Ootrukulam and Kachchal Samalankulam was continuing in preparation for Sinhala settlements.

Member of Vavuniya North divisional council T Thamilselvan said that roads had been cleared and a Buddhist vihara which had been set up as a hut was being expanded.

Several more huts had been set up and lands appeared to have been cleared for cultivation, he said.

Last month, former Northern Provincial Council member P Sathiyalingam had written to the Vavuniya Distrcit Secretariat querying the basis for allowing the settlements.

While questioning whether Anuradhapura officials had obtained permission to renovate the tank at Kachchal Samalankulam and whether permission had been granted to clear forests for cultivation, Sathiyalingam that even though tanks such as Poompuhar and Puthiyavelar Chinnakkulam had been renovated through government funding, the Forest Department had not yet granted permission to do cultivation in lands served by those tanks.

In a similar vein, the civil society group Tamil Heritage Forum said last month “the Forest Department which forbids the displaced Tamils to clean their own lands, provides full support for forest clearing for Sinhalese settlements.”

Sathiyalingam had also questioned the basis for the distribution of the lands and how the beneficiaries were selected.