President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday (May 7) revoked the agreement under which lands in Sampur were allocated for the Board of investment of Sri Lanka to commence investment projects.
These lands would be released for the resettlement of people who were displaced in terrorist atrocities in the area. President Maithripala Sirisena signed the relevant Gazzette Notification last evening releasing the land in Sampur area which was earlier allocated to Board of Investment for resettlement activities.
Commenting on this TNA Member of Parliment S. Sumanthiran said that this land area in Sampur would be utilized for the resettlement of displaced people in the area. The previous government had allocated lands for the BoI for investment projects.
Meanwhile, Eastern Province Governor and one time Defence Secretary Austin Fernando categorically denied allegations that shifting of the Naval camp in Sampur was politically motivated and carried out under the influence of the Indian government.
He said the Naval Training camp will be shifted to an adjoining location to resettle the displaced in Sampur in their original places of residence.
Fernando stressed that this camp is shifted across the fence although critics said this move would jeopardise national security.
The Eastern Province Governor added that the decision to shift the camp was taken on the approval of all stakeholders including the Navy Commander and the Defence Secretary.
“Certain elements say that shifting of the camp is a sell out to the LTTE. This was done after discussing the issue with all stake holders including the Defence Secretary and the Navy Commander,” he said.
Fernando added that the defence authorities’ concern was how to ensure the security of the Naval base and the Trincomalee harbour and they had to select a location which was facing the Naval base.
The Governor said 825 families displaced families were living in Sampur.
These families have been living in temporary shelter under trying conditions for more than 10 years, he said.
Fernando said the previous government promised to the Supreme Court that the people displaced in Sampur would be resettled in their original places of residence in compliance with the internationally accepted practice for resettlement.
The Governor added that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa also pledged to give them back their own lands.
“What the incumbent government is doing is honouring these pledges given by the previous government to the displaced people,” he said.
“How many of you would prefer to live in a small shelter? We would not stay even 10 minutes in these small huts. We are criticised for taking measures to help these people,” Fernando added.
The Governor said many of these families have become displaced more than three times and they should be looked at in a more humane way.
A new naval training camp with all modern facilities are to be put up in this new location for which the government is to set apart Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 million.
“The Treasury has already promised the Defence Ministry that it would allocate funds for the establishment of a modern Naval training facility in this new location,” he said.