Published on: March 22, 2024

President Directs Completion of “Urumaya” Program Granting Free Land Rights to 2 Million People by June

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe has instructed officials to ensure the completion of the national “Urumaya” freehold deeds program by June.

The President emphasized that it is the dream of every citizen to attain legal ownership of land, regardless of their background. He firmly believes that everyone should have this fundamental right.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these remarks while attending the ‘Urumaya’ Freehold
Deeds program held in the Ottagapulam, in Jaffna this morning (22).

Accordingly, 408 land deeds were granted to the people of Jaffna as part of the ‘Urumaya’ program, which aims to provide free land rights to 02 million individuals. The President symbolically participated in the awarding of the deeds.

Under the leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the release of lands previously utilized by the Jaffna Security Force Headquarters was conducted at the Palali Air Force Base, today (22).

Jaffna Commander Major General Chandana Wickramasinghe presented the official land release documents to President Ranil Wickremesinghe. Subsequently, President Wickremesinghe handed over the documents to Jaffna District Governor Maradalingam Pradeepan.

As per the arrangement, 234 acres of land from five Grama Niladhari Divisions in the Valikamam North were granted to the local public. These lands are intended for agricultural purposes in alignment with the government’s agricultural modernization program.

As part of this initiative, seeds were distributed under the leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Following this distribution, the President engaged in cordial discussions with the land recipients and ceremoniously planted a sapling on the liberated land.

During his address at the program for ‘Urumaya’ Freehold Deeds, President Ranil Wickremesinghe made the following remarks:

“In the era of monarchy, land ownership was vested with the people. However, the enactment of the Waste Lands Act during the British colonial period led to the government assuming ownership of the lands. Consequently, the government came to possess 80% of the country’s land.

While the government transferred land rights to individuals through permits, legal ownership was not conferred. It is my conviction that land seized from the people should be restored to them. Hence, we have resolved to grant free land rights to all holders of land permits.

Land ownership is a universal aspiration transcending nationality. It is a fundamental right that everyone should possess. To this end, we launched the Urumaya program in Dambulla recently, and today, we are extending this initiative to the Jaffna district. While only a select few are benefiting from this program today, I have instructed for its completion by June.

In addition, we have initiated the agriculture modernization program, selecting one Divisional Secretariat in each district for this purpose. In Jaffna, Kopai has been chosen. This initiative aims to modernize agriculture in the province, leading to increased income opportunities for its residents.

Following the end of conflict, a significant portion of land was requisitioned by the military. To date, the government has released approximately 63,000 acres of both government-owned and privately-owned land.

Furthermore, around 2,600 acres of land previously held by the navy have been returned to the use of civilians. Similarly, 2,600 acres of land, encompassing both government and private holdings, formerly under the control of the Air Force, have been returned.

Moreover, recent developments have seen the return of 101 acres of land to local communities, with an additional 234 acres being granted today.

Additionally, there have been instances where lands previously categorized as forest conservation areas by the Forest Conservation Department encroached upon village territories. I have instructed that these matters be resolved in accordance with the 1985 land map.

Previously, the landowners of this region, in collaboration with the security forces, initiated the Palali Smart Agriculture program. We have advised that these lands be reintegrated into modern agriculture practices, recognizing that landowners may require support in this endeavour. Consequently, the Tri forces are collaborating to provide the necessary assistance. Additionally, contributions from reputable companies are being facilitated for sales while, the initiative receives support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Furthermore, specific conditions were stipulated for the allocation of these lands. It is imperative that the best farm in Jaffna be established here, serving as a model farm for the entire nation.

Moreover, a new program similar to initiatives in other parts of the north is being launched in Jaffna. We are addressing post-war challenges and have initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). However, our efforts are not confined to this. We are committed to providing comprehensive solutions to the issues affecting the people and enhancing their sources of income. Consequently, we are spearheading the establishment of a new economy in this province.

We have devised plans to bolster agriculture from Vavuniya to Jaffna and harness the extensive solar and wind energy resources in the province. We aim to collaborate with India in this endeavour. Furthermore, we seek to stimulate growth in the tourism and fishing industries. Additionally, land has been designated for investment zones. Over the next 5 to 10 years, we are committed to implementing these initiatives to foster a robust economy in the northern region. I extend an invitation to everyone to collectively contribute to the transformation of Northern Sri Lanka into a significant economic hub”.

Noteworthy attendees at the event included religious leaders led by the Maha Sangha, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda, State Ministers Suren Raghavan and Kader Masthan, Members of Parliament Angajan Ramanathan and Dharmalingam Siddarthan, Northern Province Governor Mrs. P.S.M. Charles, former State Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran, Senior Adviser to the President on National Security and Chief of the Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka, Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake, Defense Ministry Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne (Retired), Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Vikum Liyanage, Commander Northern Naval Area Rear Admiral Kanchana Banagoda, Palali Air Force Base Commander Group Captain Chaminda Herath, Northern Province Political Authority, government officials, local residents and other dignitaries.

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