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Vavuniya villagers protest Sri Lanka forest dept land-grabs

Residents of a Vavuniya village protested against the Sri Lankan forest department’s land-grabs last month.

Protesting in front of the old mosque in Sooduventhapulavu, the villagers said that the forest department had declared 428 acres of land under its jurisdiction. However this land belonged to and was cultivated by the villagers since 1974.

The protestors said that 428 acres of land was provided to 428 people (one acre per person) and they planted useful crops like coconuts and have been farming black gram. They said even though some documents were provided for those lands back when they were given, they were lost during 1990 displacement. After the resettlement, they cleaned up their lands and started cultivating them again.

The Sri Lankan forest department has come under fire in the North-East as many residents claim that wild areas that come under the department’s jurisdiction have been left neglected, threatening the region’s wildlife, while the department instead targets Tamil and Muslim-owned agricultural and residential lands for land-grabbing.