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An Unlawful Occupation Crisis Need for sustainable solution in Mayilathamadu Madhavanai

15 November 2023 12:52 am - 6     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Last month’s protest in Batticaloa by livestock farmers and families of the disappeared against illegal occupation of land in the Mayilathamadu Madhavanai region 

Livestock farmers and families of the disappeared staged a peaceful protest in Batticaloa last month against land grabbing. The demonstration aimed to address issues related to illegal colonization, government action and inaction and occupation of lands by the Sri Lanka Army.   
The Mayilathamadu Madhavanai region in Sri Lanka grapples with a pressing and multifaceted issue – the unlawful occupation of vital grazing lands. Situated on the border of the Batticaloa and Ampara Districts, this region has historically been a lifeline for cattle farmers since 1972.  


The illegal occupation by the Sinhalese in 2010 has escalated into a prolonged conflict, causing significant human rights violations and posing a complex and multifaceted challenge that warrants a comprehensive examination. In this detailed exploration, we delve into the historical context, the impact on cattle farmers, governmental inaction, and the political and religious dimensions of this crisis.  
Mayilathamadu Madhavanai, a vital grazing land for over 200,000 cattle, has been the backbone of the local economy, supporting the livelihoods of around 3,000 farmers. The region boasts a rich ecosystem with dense forests comprising coconut trees, making it vital not only for farmers but also for sustaining biodiversity. The unlawful occupation has disrupted traditional livelihoods, threatened the fragile ecosystem, and triggered a complex conflict with far-reaching consequences.  
The illegal occupation has inflicted severe hardships on cattle farmers, ranging from threats, intimidation, and violence to the chasing, damaging, and stealing of cattle. Additionally, farmers’ crops have been deliberately burned, leading to a drastic reduction in milk production from 5,500 to 300 litres per day. This not only jeopardizes the economic stability of the local community but also raises concerns about the region’s ability to recover from the crisis.  
One of the glaring issues exacerbating the crisis is the government’s failure to take effective action against the unlawful occupation. Despite numerous complaints, the lack of tangible steps has emboldened land invaders and created a climate of impunity. Over 4,000 cattle have been lost to shootings and theft since 2010, with no perpetrators brought to justice. This underscores the urgent need for the government to address the crisis and restore justice for the affected farmers.


The unlawful occupation in Mayilathamadu Madhavanai is entwined with complex political and religious dynamics. Some political leaders have faced accusations of supporting land invaders, while religious figures have intervened to protect the rights of cattle farmers. This interplay has heightened tensions between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil communities, adding a layer of complexity to the already challenging situation.  
The crisis in Mayilathamadu Madhavanai has broader implications for peace and development in Sri Lanka. The conflict has eroded trust between communities, hindering reconciliation efforts. The degradation of the region’s ecosystem also jeopardizes sustainable development, threatening the country’s overall economic progress. Addressing this crisis is not just about resolving a localized issue; it’s about fostering peace, rebuilding trust, and ensuring the long-term development of the nation.  
Understanding the legal context of the Mayilathamadu Madhavanai crisis is crucial to finding a sustainable resolution. Historical records from the 1930s, belonging to the Department of Forestry, confirm that the region is designated as a grazing area. Subsequent environmental documentation in 1978 under the Accelerated Mahaveli Authority further verifies its pastoral designation. However, the illegal occupation by Sinhalese settlers, in blatant violation of a Supreme Court order in 2022, continues unabated.
The legal confirmation in 2021 that the land is designated for grazing should have paved the way for effective measures to reclaim the occupied land. Regrettably, despite a court order issued to the Mahaweli Development Authority on 2022.07.06, tangible actions remain elusive, leaving the cattle farmers in a perpetual state of uncertainty.  
Farmers have faced severe injustices, with no substantial action taken by authorities, including the Police Department, Forest Department, and Mahaweli Authority. Over a 13-year period from 2010 to 2023, farmers lost over 4,000 cattle to shootings and theft, highlighting the dire consequences of governmental inaction.
The crisis in Mayilathamadu Madhavanai is emblematic of the broader political challenges facing Sri Lanka in its post-war transition. The country grapples with issues such as land rights, reconciliation, and sustainable development. The Mayilathamadu Madhavanai crisis exposes the government’s reluctance to address the issue comprehensively.  
Political dimensions play a significant role in perpetuating the crisis. Accusations of political leaders providing support to land invaders contribute to the entrenchment of the issue. The reluctance to act may be attributed to a lack of political will or capacity, further deepening the challenges faced by cattle farmers in the region.  


The involvement of religious figures adds another layer of complexity to the Mayilathamadu Madhavanai crisis. Some monks and government officials have been accused of supporting the activities of unlawful settlers, intensifying tensions in the region. Former Eastern Province Governor Anuradha Yahampath and certain religious figures have been reported to be involved in renaming villages for illegal settlements and attempting to set up a Buddhist temple in the pasture ground area.  
Religious tensions are intertwined with the broader ethnic divide, with the crisis causing mistrust between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil communities. Such dynamics contribute to the complexity of the issue, making it essential to address not only the immediate crisis but also the underlying social and political fractures.  
The Mayilathamadu Madhavanai crisis has far-reaching implications for the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka. Trust between communities, particularly the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil populations, has been severely eroded. The failure to address the grievances of the affected Tamil cattle farmers contributes to a narrative of injustice and discrimination.
A comprehensive resolution to the crisis is not just about reclaiming grazing lands but also about rebuilding trust, fostering understanding, and promoting coexistence. Efforts to address the crisis must be embedded within broader reconciliation initiatives, acknowledging the historical injustices and working towards a more harmonious future.  
Addressing the Mayilathamadu Madhavanai crisis requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach. The following recommendations are crucial for a sustainable resolution that addresses the immediate concerns of cattle farmers and contributes to the broader goals of reconciliation and development:  
Immediate Eviction and Restoration: The government must take swift and decisive action to evict illegal occupants and restore the grazing land to cattle farmers. This involves a comprehensive assessment of the extent of illegal occupation and a strategic plan for reclamation.  
Compensation for Losses: Cattle farmers should be adequately compensated for the losses incurred during the unlawful occupation. This includes financial compensation for lost cattle, damaged crops, and the emotional distress caused by the conflict.  
Prevention Mechanism: Establish a robust mechanism to prevent future land invasions. This involves increased security measures, regular monitoring of grazing lands, and collaboration with local communities to report any suspicious activities promptly.  
Reconciliation Initiatives: Collaborate with religious leaders and civil society organizations to promote reconciliation and understanding between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil communities. This may involve interfaith dialogue.  
In conclusion, the Unlawful Occupation Crisis in Mayilathamadu Madhavanai is a deeply entrenched and multifaceted issue that demands urgent attention and sustainable solutions. The historical significance of this region, serving as a crucial lifeline for cattle farmers since 1972, underscores the severity of the challenges faced by the community. The unlawful occupation by the Sinhalese in 2010 has not only disrupted traditional livelihoods but has also led to severe human rights violations and an intricate conflict.  


A comprehensive resolution is not only about reclaiming grazing lands but also about rebuilding trust, fostering understanding, and promoting coexistence.   
In essence, addressing the Mayilathamadu Madhavanai crisis requires a holistic and concerted effort from all stakeholders. The recommendations put forth aim to not only rectify the immediate concerns of the affected cattle farmers but also contribute to broader goals of reconciliation, sustainable development, and lasting peace in the region. The urgency of the situation cannot be overstated, and decisive actions are imperative to rectify the injustices faced by the Mayilathamadu Madhavanai community.    


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  • NAGA Wednesday, 15 November 2023 03:46 AM

    FOR THE NATIVE PEOPLE IN THE EASTERN PROVINCE, HOW IT REATE? THIS IS CRYSTAL CLEAR, SL GOVE APPROACH.

    Surveyor Wednesday, 15 November 2023 05:13 AM

    Two states in one Sri Lanka is the solution to these problems.

    THE NATIVE. Wednesday, 15 November 2023 05:51 AM

    EXCEPTIONAL THE NATIVE PEOPLES, OTHER ALL ARE UNLAWFUL OCCUPATIONS..

    THE TRUTH N.V. Wednesday, 15 November 2023 09:57 PM

    ACCORDING TO THE HUMEN CIVILISATION THE LAND CONSISTS FOUR SECTIONS, THEY ARE MOUNTAIN, COASTAL AREA. AND IN BETWEEN. THE TWO. THE HUNTERS, CATTLE FARMERS PADDY FARMERS, AND FISHMANS. ********

    THE TRUTH N.V. Wednesday, 15 November 2023 09:57 PM

    ACCORDING TO THE HUMEN CIVILISATION THE LAND CONSISTS FOUR SECTIONS, THEY ARE MOUNTAIN, COASTAL AREA. AND IN BETWEEN. THE TWO. THE HUNTERS, CATTLE FARMERS PADDY FARMERS, AND FISHMANS. ********

    Sikandi Namaband Thursday, 16 November 2023 11:25 AM

    Who are the native people? Only politicians!!


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