Sri Lanka’s forest department has appropriated 100 acres of cultivation land belonging to around 50 families in Mullaitivu. The department appropriated the land in Puliyamunai, a village in Semmalai East, designating it as protected conservation land.
The affected landowners said they rely on agriculture for livelihood and that the land-grab has thrown their lives into disarray.
The current families of Puliyamunai had been cultivating there in the 1970s but were displaced due to the war between 1983 and 2015.
Although the forest department attempted to prevent the families from resettling after 2015, residents defied the department and began cultivating their lands again.
However the department has now blocked access to the lands.
Mullaitivu representative for the Northern provincial council, T Ravikaran, fiercely criticised the forest department’s wide-scale appropriation of Tamil-owned lands in the district, contending that it was a key factor in aggravating poverty in Mullaitivu.