With the gradual handing over of lands to their owners the total extents of land used to house military camps in the Jaffna Peninsula has now come down to 6,500 acres from the original 26,000 acres, Military Spokesman and Ministry of Defence, Media Center Director Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said.
Addressing the weekly media briefing on Tuesday (July 22), Brig. Wanigasooriya said that around 20,000 acres of lands used to house military camps in the Jaffna Peninsula have been returned to their owners after dismantling around 200 military camps. Most of these lands were used by the LTTE for their military purposes after taking them over by force.
Though we have dismantled a large number of camps it is necessary to continue to maintain army camps in certain selected areas in the Jaffna Peninsula as security is a matter that cannot be neglected. The Achchuveli camp is one of camps that we have decided to retain, he said.
The Military Spokesman totally rejected reports that the Government was taking over land to establish a new army camp in Achchuveli.
He said the Achchuveli camp was in operation since 1995 and was not established recently.
A portion of land where the Achchuveli camp is located is owned by the state while the rest of it is owned by nine different persons and these are not displaced persons. “None of these owners are displaced persons. Eight of them live in their own houses near the Jaffna town and only one person lives in a rented house near the Jaffna town and that too owing to a personal matter”.
“We are prepared to provide compensation to them and in fact they had earlier agreed to receive compensation. But a public protest was held recently when our officers went there to survey the land, under political pressure,” he said.
He also said that this type of incident also happened in Mirusuvil when officers went to survey the land where the Sri Lanka Army 52nd Division Headquarters was situated. The owner of this plot of land also agreed to get compensation, but has now changed her decision and refused compensation due to political pressure.
“This land was earlier used by the LTTE for their training purposes. But the LTTE never paid compensation when it forcibly acquired it. However, as a state military force the Army had taken measures to provide compensation to the owner of the land and acquire the land complying with legal requirements,” Brigadier Wanigasooriya said.
“There are provisions in the Land Reclamations Act to take over land as per the requirements of the state, the Military Spokesman said.