President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday issued instructions to amend the legislation relating to the country's land sector to meet the present day needs.
Participating in the progress evaluation meeting of the Ministry of Lands and Land Development held at the Ministry Monday, the President instructed the relevant officials to institute a program to pay immediate compensation to the people when the government takes over their land for various development projects.
The President also focused attention on the issue of safeguarding the state land and preventing encroachers and squatters from using the state land. He said legal action should be initiated against those regardless of their status.
The meeting also drew attention to returning to the owners the land indiscriminately taken by the previous governments and not being used currently.
The President also instructed the relevant officials to introduce a program to re-take the currently unused state land distributed to recipients of various projects.
Focusing attention on introduction of new regulations related to land frauds, the President suggested to carry out a proper study on lands acquired for state institutions and departments which are not being used and to institute an immediate programme for launching development work.
The meeting noted that the government had granted legal ownership of 136,000 land allotments to the landless last year, exceeding the target of 100,000 allotments based on the Mahinda Chinthana.
The President inquired the Ministry officials on public complaints and media reports over land disputes. Among the complaints were the delay in the resolution of land issues submitted by the people to Local Councils and Provincial Councils, the construction of buildings on lands allocated for tanks and reservoirs, and improper reclamation of land of people resettled in the North and East.
Land and land Development Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon, Deputy Minister Siripala Gamlath, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Finance Ministry Dr. P.B. Jayasundera and Secretary to the Land Ministry Ahsoka Peiris were present at this progress review meeting.