The Government has launched an unofficial ‘search operation’ to locate the owners of unutilised land in Jaffna.
Most of the owners are known to be overseas and are either untraceable or uncontactable.
Additional District Secretary (Land) at the Jaffna District Secretariat, D. D. Muralitharan told The Sunday Leader that the unutilised lands can be made use of to uplift the Jaffna people’s economy and social standards.
Accordingly, the authorities are attempting to locate the owners of the unutilised lands and offer deals to obtain the land on rent or long term lease.
Muralitharan said that the land can be used to grow crops and vegetables by Government agencies in Jaffna.
The Government and the military have been returning land in Jaffna which had been acquired during the war.
However, some lands remain unclaimed even though they have been released while there are others which have rightful owners but are not being used and remain bare.
The land issue in the North has been a sensitive issue since the end of the war and has often been used as a political tool.
Tamil political parties, particularly the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), have been pushing for the release of military occupied land in the North. However, despite the end of the war, most families who fled the North and settled overseas are not willing to return and settle in the North once again.
As a result some of their land and property remain unused resulting in the Government looking at obtaining the land on rent or lease.
Army Commander Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake said that 76 percent of the land occupied by the Army has been released so far.
He said that in 2015 approximately 1739.9 acres of land were released and in 2016, it was 726.6 acres. In 2017, 85.60 acres of land in Thaiyiddy North had been released.
According to statistics available at the Jaffna District Secretariat, the total number of land released to date after the war is 3052.44 acres.
Accordingly, 621.8 acres from Valalai, 500 acres from Maruthankerny, and 421.62 acres from Thaiyiddy South were released.
The lands released from other areas in Jaffna have been recorded as Kankesanthurai 25.74 acres, Kankesanthuri Centre 58.62, Kankesathurei South 213.74, Palaiveemankamam North 55.60, Kadduvan 98.62, Kurumbasiddy 52.32, Palaiveemankamam South 62, Thenyamalai 26.10, Varuthalaivilan 132.78, Vasavilan East 80.63, Myliddy North 18.38, Thaiyiddy East 142.67, Thaiyiddy North 119.92, Palaly South 187.19, Thaiyiddy East 160, Thaiyiddy North 64.74,and Naguleswaram 9.97 acres.
The Police had occupied 5125.43 acres of lands and Army, 3565.1 acres of land, according to the DS Division District Summary of private land occupied by Tri Forces.
After removing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police camps from the land they occupied, they had been relocated at suitable locations. The cost of relocating the camps had been borne by the Government at the time and the current Government.