Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said he will take to the streets together with landless people against those who are trying to sabotage the government’s programme of giving ownership of land to the poor.
Prime Minister expressed this sentiment at a ceremony held to distribute land deeds to landless in Ampara last morning.
“Two organizations have opposed the government programme of giving ownership of lands to the poor. They have also threatened to file legal action against giving ownership to landless people. This is not an issue as we can fight the case.
However, people have a right to own a plot of land. The two organizations are trying to violate this right. Therefore, I propose that we take to the streets and stage a protest against these organizations,” the Prime Minister said.
He said no one will be allowed to stop the land distribution programme.
“Lands were given to people in wetlands and from dry areas. These were given under the Land Development Regulation Bill in 1934. A license was given to those who resided in lands. Later only a letter was given to those who occupied the lands".
He said there were others who did not have even a letter to prove that they have been allowed to settle in State lands. Even those who were given lands to grow tea on a 99 year lease basis were given a deed. Later, during the present regime the current Minister of Lands had proposed to give permanent ownership of lands to the landless.
"The tea small holders and those who grow paddy do not have permanent ownership of land. Tea small holders are the ones who mostly supply tea to be exported. Paddy growers supply rice to the hold nation. It is unfair that they are not given permanent ownership of lands,” he added.
The Prime Minister added that a new law will be introduced soon to make provisions for a person who had resided in a State land for more than ten years to claim permanent ownership of such a land. (Yohan Perera and Wasantha Chandrapala)