Journey through landless people.... Let's voice out for voiceless people who displaced by war,Natural disaster , Mass development activities and Human & Elephant Co-Existence issue and Plantation workers of Sri Lanka
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Meeting with minister of agrarian services and wildlife

Written By Joining Hands Network on Saturday, December 31, 2011 | 9:52 AM

Meeting held with Hon.S.M.Chandrasena(Minister of Agricalture and agrarian Services) regarding the wild elephant issue. Almost 15 districts are now affected by the wild elephants but the present government doesn't have any plan to eridicate this problem so there are 10 district leaders come togather to meet the Minister after the protest. during the meeting the leaders have proposed the ideas which is suitable to all communities. Herewith the leaders submitted the proposal to the minister regarding this issue.minister promised to solve this issue one by one district. as a first step he promised to come to Kurunegala on 06th Jan 2012.Praja Abhilasha's National coordinator Francis Raajan, Sasikaran,Arumugam,Somalatha,Somasiri,Jayawathi,Priyankara Costa,and Jayasinghe(the president of the Alliance for protecting Human & Elephant Co-Existence)have participated during the meeting. Herewith, Wildlife department officials were present at the meeting.

protest on H & E issue

Human rights day celebration at Fort station in Colombo

Land forum workshop

Trinco visit

advocacy workshop at Chinthana

National famers day celebration

British Deputy High Commissioner Visit to Kalpitiya

people are forced to resettle in the alternative places where government propose

Written By Joining Hands Network on Monday, October 17, 2011 | 2:37 AM

மாற்று இடங்களில் குடியேறுமாறு வற்புறுத்தப்படும் சம்பூர் பிரதேச மக்கள்



[ ஞாயிற்றுக்கிழமை, 16 ஒக்ரோபர் 2011, 02:58.49 PM GMT ]
நான்காம் கட்ட (2006) ஈழப் போரில் முதன் முதலாக இடம்பெயர்ந்த சம்பூர், கூனித்தீவு, சூடைக்குடா, கடற்கரைச்சேனை ஆகிய கிராமங்களைச் சேர்ந்த சுமார் பத்தாயிரம் மக்கள் இன்றுவரை மீள்குடியேற்றப்படாமல் கிளிவெட்டி, பட்டித்திடல், மணற்சேனை, கட்டைபறிச்சான் ஆகிய இடங்களில் உள்ள அகதி முகாம்களில் அவல வாழ்க்கை வாழ்ந்து கொண்டிருக்கின்றனர்.
இம்மக்களின் வளமான வாழ்விடங்களும் வயல் வெளிகளும் கொங்கிரீட் வேலி போட்டு அடைக்கப்பட்டு மக்கள் உட்செல்வதற்கு தொடர்ச்சியாக அனுமதி மறுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.

மாற்றுக் கொள்கைகளுக்கான நிலையம் 2007 ஆம் ஆண்டு சம்பூர் பாதுகாப்பு வலயம் தொடர்பாகத் தாக்கல் செய்த பொதுநல வழக்கில் உச்சநீதிமன்றமானது தனது தீர்ப்பில் பாதுகாப்பு வலயப் பிரகடனத்தின் நோக்கம் திருகோணமலைத் துறைமுகத்திற்கு போதிய பாதுகாப்பினை வழங்குவதேயொழிய மக்களின் வாழ்விடம் மற்றும் தொழில் உரிமைகளை மறுப்பதற்காக அல்ல எனவும் பயங்கரவாத நடவடிக்கைகளிலிருந்து இப்பிரதேசம் விடுவிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது எனவும் மீள்குடியேற்றமும் அபிவிருத்தியும் ஒரு திட்டமிட்ட அடிப்படையில் இடம்பெற வேண்டும் எனவும் கூறியுள்ளது.

அத்துடன் மீள்குடியேற்றம் இடம்பெற்றவுடன் பொது மக்களுக்கு உதவி செய்ய விரும்பும் குழுக்கள் மக்களின் புனர்வாழ்விற்கு உதவி புரிவதற்கான வழியும் கிடைக்கும் எனவும் குறிப்பிட்டுள்ளது.

உச்ச நீதிமன்றத்தின் தீர்ப்பு இவ்வாறிருக்கையில், சம்பூர் பிரதேச மக்களை வேம்படித்தோட்டம், இத்திக்குளம், இறால்குழி மற்றும் வீரமாநகர் ஆகிய குடிப்பதற்குக் கூட நீர் கிடைக்காத இடங்களில் குடியேறுவதற்கு இணங்குமாறு தொடர்ச்சியான அழுத்தங்கள் இடம் பெற்றுக்கொண்டிருந்த நிலையில் இந்திய இலங்கை அதிகாரிகளுக்கிடையே சம்பூரில் அனல் மின் நிலையம் அமைப்பதற்கான ஒப்த்தம் கைச்சாத்தாகிய பின்னர் இம்மக்கள் மீதான கெடுபிடிகள் அதிகரித்துள்ளன.


ஒரு முன்னாள் இராணுவ அதிகாரியாகிய திருகோணமலை மாவட்ட அரசாங்க அதிபரும் முன்னாள் கடற்படை அதிகாரியாகிய கிழக்கு மாகாண ஆளுநரும் மக்களை வேறு இடங்களில் குடியேறுவதற்கு இணங்குமாறு தமது அழுத்தங்களை தீவிரப்படுத்தியுள்ளனர்.

இரவு நேரங்களில் இராணுவத்தினர் முகாம்களுக்கு சென்று முகாம் தலைவர்களையும் மக்களையும் வேறு இடங்களில் குடியேறுவதற்கு இணங்குமாறு வற்புறுத்துகின்றனர்.

சம்பூர் பிரதேசம் உயர்பாதுகாப்பு வலயமாகப் பிரகடனப்படுத்தப்பட்டு இந்திய உதவியுடன் அனல் மின்நிலையம் அமைக்கப்படும் என்னும் செய்தி 2006 ம் ஆண்டில் வெளியாகியபோதும் அம்மக்களின் பிரதிநிதிகளாகிய தமிழ்த் தேசியக் கூட்டமைப்புத் தலைமையானது இம்மக்களின் பிரச்சினை தொடர்பாக இதுவரை காத்திரமான எந்த நடவடிக்கையினையும் மேற்கொள்ளவில்லை என்பது கவலைக்குரிய விடயமாகும்.

உண்மையில் மக்களுக்குத் தேவையானது அவர்களது வாழ்விடங்களேயொழிய வெறும் அறிக்கைகள் அல்ல. ஏனெனில் சம்பூரில் பத்தாயிரம் ஏக்கர் காணிகள் அபகரிப்புச் செய்யப்பட்டு பத்தாயிரம் மக்களின் வாழ்வும் பறிபோகிக் கொண்டிருக்கையில் தமிழ்த் தேசியக் கூட்டமைப்புத் தலைமையானது இன்றுவரை சட்டரீதியான நடவடிக்கை எடுக்கவுமில்லை இதை ஒரு அதிமுக்கிய பிரச்சினையாகக் கருதி பாராளுமன்றத்தில ஒரு நாள் விவாதத்தினைக் கோரி இப்பாரதூரமான பிர்ச்சினை பற்றி நாட்டு மக்களுக்கு தெளிவுபடுத்த முற்படவுமில்லை.



உச்சநீதிமன்றம் தனது தீர்ப்பில் கூறியதற்கு மாறாக இன்று வரை சம்பூர் பிரதேச மக்களின் மீள் குடியேற்றம் இடம் பெறவில்லை. இம்மக்களை பிரநிதித்துவப்படுத்தும் தமிழ்த் தேசியக் கூட்டமைப்புத் தலைமையானது இப்பிரச்சினையினை மீண்டும் உச்ச நீதிமன்றத்தின் கவனத்திற்கு இன்றுவரை கொண்டு போய் சம்பூர் பிரதேச மக்களுக்கு ஒரு தீர்வினை பெற்றுத்தர முற்படாமைக்கான காரணம் யாது என்பது பற்றி இன்றுவரை சம்பூர் பிரதேச மக்களுக்குப் புரியவில்லை.

அனல் மின் நிலையத்திற்கு 500 ஏக்கர் காணிகள் எடுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது என அரசாங்கம் கூறிக் கொண்டிருக்கையில் 500 ஏக்கர் காணிகள் கையகப்படுத்தப்பட்டுள்ள முறை பற்றியோ அல்லது எஞ்சிய 9500 ஏக்கருக்கு என்ன நடக்கப் போகின்றது என்பது பற்றியோ எதுவும் பேசாமல் தமிழ்த் தேசியக் கூட்டமைப்புத் தலைமை மௌனம் காப்பது யாருக்காக? ஏதற்காக? தமக்கு வாக்களித்த மக்களைவிட இவர்களுக்கு முக்கியமானவர்கள் யார்? அது ஏன்?

தம் மீதான இராணுவத்தினரின் அண்மைக்கால அழுத்தங்கள் தொடர்பாகவும், தமது மீள்குடியேற்றம் பற்றி அறிந்து கொள்வதற்காகவும் சம்பூர் பிரதேச மக்கள் தமிழ்த் தேசியக் கூட்டமைப்புத் தலைமையுடன் தொடர்பு கொள்ள முற்படும் போது தொலைபேசி மணி அடிக்கின்றது. ஆனால் எடுப்பார் யாருமில்லை.

தேர்தல்கள் ஏதேனும் அறிவிக்கப்பட்டவுடன் வடகிழக்கு முழுவதும் சூறாவளிச் சுற்றுப்பயணம் செய்து மக்களிடம் வாக்குக் கேட்போர் மக்கள் பிரச்சினைக்கு மத்தியில் சிக்கித் தவிக்கும் போது தொடர்பு கொள்ள முடியாதவர்களாக ஆகிவிடுவது அரசியலின் பொய் வேடத்தினை நன்றாகவே வெளிச்சம் போட்டுக் காட்டுகின்றது.

எல்.சிவலிங்கம்
lsivalingam22@gmail.com

Source from: Tamilwin.com

Protest on Development Displacement

Written By Joining Hands Network on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 | 2:12 AM

Press Release: National Seminar on Development Displacement

A “National Seminar on Development Displacement” which demanded to Stop Land grabbing in the name of development: Ensure Life and Livelihoods, was held on Tuesday, 06th September 2011 in Colombo. Organised by the Praja Abhilasha network and the Land Forum of Sri Lanka, the seminar focused on land grabbing and the displacement and loss of land faced by people due to large-scale development and tourism projects initiated by the Government of Sri Lanka.
Representatives of communities affected by different development and tourism projects all over the island gathered at the seminar to share their experiences and to highlight the adverse consequences of these projects on their homes, families and livelihoods and most importantly, their rights; from farmer groups in Panama, Balangoda, Moneragala who are losing their land to a special tourism zone to urban poor communities in Colombo to be evacuated in the name of urban development to fisher groups in Kalpitiya, Rathgama, Negombo and Polonnaruwa losing their land and access to the sea/reservoirs/lakes/lagoons to tourism projects and the spread of the seaplane project, Golf courts etc. Displaced people due to Special Economic Zone and also for proposed second coal power plant at Sampur, Trincomalee, displaced communities of Mullikulam, Mannar due to high security zones and military purposes were also joined hands with their southern counterpart in solidarity with the struggle against the land grabbing.
The seminar was an initial step towards ensuring that the voices and concerns of these people were heard in the larger public domain. It was the foundation to the building up a collective of affected groups which would connect over common issues brought on by development and tourism, threatening their very existence. Also, opposed so called Mahinda Chinthana development program which is the carbon copy of Regaining Sri Lanka, which was defeated by Sri Lankan people in 2004 which promote the Neo Liberal Economic Policies to hand over natural capital to private ownership with out considering the small scale producers, small farmers, small fishers, pastoralists who contribute the food security, provide job opportunities, and sustain the life and livelihoods and conserve the nature.
The main demands of the participants who participated were, “We need a development which protect our lives and livelihoods and we want our Land Back.”
Following the seminar, a peaceful demonstration was held outside the seminar venue with farmers, fisher folk and activists participating to further highlight issues surrounding the loss of land related rights and displacement due to development and tourism projects. It was also about mobilizing public support for communities struggling to hold on to their rights to land and livelihoods and access to resources such as water and a demand that the rights of these people and communities be respected and not be sacrificed in the name of development.

National Seminar on Development Displacement

Written By Joining Hands Network on Tuesday, October 4, 2011 | 11:39 PM

Uma Oya Multi Purpose Project could put the hill country in danger

Written By Joining Hands Network on Sunday, September 11, 2011 | 8:09 AM



The recently initiated ‘Uma Oya Multi Purpose Project’ appears to be another risky project which could eventually result severe impacts to the central hill zone. Although there are abundant examples of the damage caused by the consecution of reservoirs are available, the government is eagerly looking forward of implementing the project due to the interest in funds despite the possibility of putting the environment, agriculture, people and the next generations to danger and making them debtors. Pre-publicity, foundation laying and commencement of the project was carried out expending a significant amount of money. However, laying the foundation for the project without a proper plan, a feasibility study or an environmental impact assessment or any sort of permission from any relevant government agencies can be is a serious precedence for the society.
Ministry of Irrigation and Water Management is acting as the executing agency in implementing the project. It is a disappointing situation to observe that this government agency has been giving publicity and implementing the project violating the law of environment and this undermining of environmental law and providing wrong example to the society. The present government has been continuously providing such incorrect precedence undermining the environmental law and implementing various projects to fulfill their own aspirations. The voice of the people or the intellectuals is not being considered. This situation was seen not only in this occasion, but also during the issue of the International Airport Project in Weerawila. People had to take legal action and go to the courts against the violation of environmental law and fundamental rights.
It was first planned to lay the foundation atone in Puhulpola area in Welimada, which is the place where the project starts. However, due to the strong opposition of the people in that area who were aware of the harmful impacts, the government had to shift the foundation laying ceremony to Alikota area in Wellawaya, where the power house is planned to be built.
The Project Scope
The total cost of the Uma Oya Multi Purpose Project is Rs. 15,000 millions. It is expected to irrigate 25,000 acres of paddy lands both in Uva Wellassa and Ruhuna Yala and Maha seasons. It is planned to cultivate 12,000 acre new land with paddy. It is further expected that this project could provide water to the Hambantota Port, Weerawila International Airport and Hambantota Industrial zone. The entire project aims to solve the drinking water problems in Uva, Wellassa and Ruhuna and also to supply sufficient water for the Lunugamwehera Reservoir. Another major objective of the project is to construct a 100MW power house which can be connected to the national grid.
With all these objectives, the government has recognized this project as the largest ever project to be implemented in Sri Lanka after the Mahaweli Development Project.
However, it is vital to examine thoroughly whether the project can achieve the expected results or whether it will be another project which will devastate the environment and make the next generation debtors.




Project Plan
Two reservoirs will be constructed by building two dams across Puhulpola Oya and Mahatotilla Oya, two tributaries of Uma Oya. The water accumulated in these reservoirs will be diverted in to Southern Province. Puhulpola Oya, which is also known as Delgolla Oya, flows from Horton Plains, Hakgala and Bomuru Ella and it will be dammed at Puhulpola area building a 25-acre reservoir. Mahatotilla Oya, which flows from areas such as Balagala, Dambetenna and Haputale, will be dammed at Dyraba area and a 10 acre reservoir will be built there. These two reservoirs are to be built about 2-3 km ahead of the place where the two streams unite to Uma Oya. The two reservoirs will be used not to store up water, but to divert water to Southern Province. In other words, these two proposed reservoirs of 25 and 10 acre size are not capable of storing a large quantity of water.
The water diverted from these two reservoirs is directed towards Wellawaya area through a 23-kilometre long tunnel which has a diameter of 3.29 metres. The powerhouse is proposed to be established in Alikota Ara area above the town of Wellawaya. Water released from the power house is released to Alokota Ara, a tributary of Kirindi Oya. This water will be diverted by Handpanagala Anicut to Handapanagala Wewa and to Lunugamwehera Reservoir. It is proposed to develop a 5,000 hectare land stretch as new paddy land along the left bank of Kirindi Oya in the areas between Handapanagala Anicut and Lunugamwehera Reservoir.
Will Uma Oya Project be a Successful Project?
At present, water of Uma Oya has been accumulated to Rantembe reservoir and diverted to Mahaweli C and Mahaweli B zones including Aralaganwila according to Mahaweli Master Plan. Hence, a further diversion of water to South could result a serious water shortage in Mahaweli C and B zones. This project could endanger an already developed area in the aim of solving the water crisis of another area. It will then be essential to provide water to meet the demand of water in Mahaweli C and B zones by implementing another irrigation project expending huge amounts of funds. It is regrettable to see that this type of plans is prepared by planners who are yes-men of politicians.
Both the southern region and the watershed of Uma Oya receive water during the same monsoon rains, the North-East monsoon. During these rains both Handapanagala tank and Lunugamwehera Reservoir normally overflow after receiving water of Kirindi Oya. Apart from this, Weheragala Project, which diverts water of Menik Ganga to Lunugamwehera Reservoir, is almost completed.
In such a situation, Handapanagala Tank and Lunugamwehera reservoir do not have the capacity to store water diverted under the proposed Uma Oya project. As both the reservoirs to be build under the project are smaller reservoirs, these could not store a large amount of water. Water level of Uma Oya drops during the dry zone and it will be impossible to provide water for Handapanagala Tank and Lunugamwehera Reservoir. Diversion of Uma Oya water in such a situation will be a grave injustice for the people who are cultivating in the lower regions of Uma Oya. As the forests of the watershed of Uma Oya are already cleared and under clearing for cultivation water level of Uma Oya drops sharply at the onset of the dry season. In that case the amount of hydro power expected to generate by the new power house and provide to the national grid will be minimum during the dry season. Hence this highly expended project could not be able to deliver the expected outcomes.
Watershed of Uma Oya is an area where high soil erosion is taking place. Due to the loosening of soil for cultivation of vegetables in areas such as Nuwara Eliya and Welimada result this severe erosion during the rainy season. The high amount of silt has accumulated in Rantembe reservoir and 60% of the capacity has already got filled. In such a situation the small reservoirs built in Uma Oya will get filled with silt in a very short period of time. This will make the project not capable to achieve its expected outcomes. Although a project was implemented to conserve the upper watershed area of Uma Oya under the Upper Watershed Management Project implemented by the Ministry of Environment, it was unproductive. Therefore building reservoirs in Uma Oya without conserving the upper watershed areas of the Uma Oya will not yield any expected results as well as vest the damage to Handapanagala Tank and Lunugamwehera Reservoir.
Further to that, this project will result the accumulation of chemical residues in Handapanagala Tank and Lunugamwehera Reservoir. The water with high chemical levels originates from the excessive use of chemicals in vegetable plantations in Nuwara eliya and Welimada areas. This could result kidney disorders and other health disorders caused by agrochemicals, of which the people in some of the Mahaweli areas suffer at present. Based on these facts, it is obvious that if the project is implemented without a proper feasibility study that consider the above mentioned issues in depth could result a waste of huge amounts of funds and make the future generation debtors.

The Impact of the Project
The impacts of the project will be suffered by people in three areas. It includes the people who are directly displaced; people who live in the downstream of Uma Oya who will suffer water shortages and the people who are living in the areas where the earth will be made unstable due to the tunneling process.
The areas which will be submerged from the Puhulpola and Dyaraba reservoirs include villages such as Kotawra Udagama and Pahalagama, Puhulpola, Hagiliella, Kebilladowa, Pahala Mirahawatta, Matetilla and Malitta. These villages are situated in an area where steep slopes are situated and paddy cultivation is conducted according to terraced cultivation. Existence of a thin layer of soil is an outstanding character in this area and it results the occurrence of landslides during the rainy seasons. Landslides are being observed by us even in the areas selected to construct the reservoirs. After the construction of the reservoirs, the soils from landslides will be accumulated to the reservoirs. This trend could further increase due to the unstabilised nature of soil layers caused by the boring and blasting carried out during the dam building and tunnel making process. This situation directly affects the capacity of these reservoirs. Building dams in Welimada area without thinking about these impacts could be a waste of money.
There is a serious shortage of drinking water and a shortage of irrigation water in the areas associated with Puhulpola Oya and Matetilla Oya and Uma Oya. People of the area suffer from these water problems for a long time and they were expecting politicians to implement various water projects. However, none of these problems have been solved yet. In such a situation, diversion of water to Southern Province is a violation of fundamental rights of the people of Uma Oya area. The majority of the people in the area oppose the Uma Oya project. Some people support the project as they will be able to obtain a job in the project and to earn their living as they do not have sufficient water for agriculture. This was the reason for a large number of people from Welimada participated in this year’s May Day rally organized by the government held in Dehiattakandiya. Applications for jobs in Uma Oya Project are available for sale in shops in Welimada and surrounding villages. Social problems in the area are the key cause for this situation. Instead of solving their problems, any effort taken to divert water to other areas could cause the residents further suppression.
People believe that the proposed drinking water project in Matetilla Oya area could also be affected by the Uma Oya Multi Purpose Project. There will be limited amounts of water available for the downstream areas of Uma Oya after the damming of Uma Oya in Puhulpola and Dyaraba areas. Specially areas such as Udaperuwa, Hawelagama, Galpaditenna, Weliarawa, Diyakole, Pahaminitota, Horatota, Deegalla Pallegama, Panakanniya, Mahakumbura, Mdeipokuna, Bamgarapana, Hatkinda, Maswatta, Wetalawa, Galaniha, Yalagamuwa, Beramada, Mudagamuwa, and Bathmedilla will be affected. This will have a serious effect on the groundwater level of the areas on left and right banks of Uma Oya. This could negatively affect the drinking and irrigation water supplies of the areas. Specially, irrigation projects such as Matetilla Oya Project, Bakmedilla Project and Minipe Project could suffer a water shortage due to diversion of Uma Oya water to the Southern region.
The proposed project aims to build a massive tunnel which is 23km in length and 3.29metres in width to carry water to the powerhouse. This tunnel will be build across several mountain ridges. Number of areas could be affected with landslides and lowered groundwater levels due to the construction of this tunnel. These include Dyaraba, Balatota Ella, Koskanuwela, Dikkapitiya, Malwatta, Malitta, Demodera, Halpe, Kitalella, Rawana Ella, Karandagolla, Ella town and Ambatennegama areas.
Adverse effects such as soil layers being turned unstable and lowering of ground water level could be resulted from the boring and blasting operations during the tunnel making process. The unstable soil layers could cause landslides during the rainy season. This process was observed in areas such as Victoria, Randenigala etc during the recent years. It was obvious that the cause for the situation in those areas were the tunneling carried out. Government plans to build a massive tunnel placing settlements and agricultural lands in serious dangers while previous experiences are available is not an approvable situation. Planning without a correct feasibility study is a step to put the whole hill zone in to danger.
When we consider the above facts it is clear that four Divisional Secretariat divisions are impacted by this project, namely Hali Ela, Uva Paranagama, Bandarawela and Welimada DS divisions. Hence there should be a proper feasibility study carried out to identify the feasibility of implementing the project. Further to that, proper written approval should be gained from environmental authorities after conducting an environmental impact assessment (EIA) which is essential according to the environmental law in Sri Lanka.





Resettling the displaced - where?
The people displaced due to the proposed project are to be re-settled in Handapanagala area. It is proposed to provide highland and paddy land for these people. This is due to the lack of sufficient highland or paddy land in or around Welimada area. This is an awful situation. It could take years to the community to get familiarize with the environmental conditions of that novel area, where the climate is not familiar to them. It will take more time to get familiar with the crop patterns and land preparation techniques and to convert the new area suitable to cultivation in these new areas. This time period could be about 5 to 10 years. These development refugees could suffer from serious problems and setback during this period. It should be thought twice of this type of situation are justifiable.
Violation of environmental law
According to the Gazette bearing the number 772/22 and dated 24th June 1993, a prewritten environmental approval is required after conducting an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for projects such as river valley development and irrigation projects, construction of powerhouses with a capacity over 50MW and for any type of tunnel constructions. Although Uma Oya Multi Purpose Project contains actions which contains phases which come under these legal provisions, the foundation stone was laid violating all these legal regulations.
Further to this, a large amount of land will be cleared in the area where the people will be resettled in Uva Wellassa areas. Under the above mentioned gazette notification under National Environmental Act, it is essential to obtain approval after an environmental impact assessment (EIA), when a land stretch more than 1 hectare is used for purposes other than forest related and when an area more than 50 hectares is being cleared. A loss of national funds is the result of laying the foundation stone without having a feasibility study and environmental impact assessment in a project of this scale. It is worth to question whether it is justifiable to waste public funds in a situation where there is a need to solve various needs of people including infrastructure development and rising inflation. It is further regrettable to notice the silence of Jathika Hela Urumaya, the political party which is having the Ministry of Environment, who lead towards a Dharma Rajjaya in the present situation where politicians take decisions without considering the laws and regulations, people’s lives and country’s resources.
Central Environmental Authority is the authoritative agency established under the National Environmental act, which has the powers act on these violations of environmental act. It is a grave situation to see that the Authority is unable to act on the violation of environmental law by the Uma Oya Project. Although the Authority is performs under the advice of leading environmental activists, it is in a firm silence in front of the political power. It is doubtful that whether the agency is capable of implementing law in case of violation of environmental law by the private sector.
This project is said to be the largest ever project implemented after the Mahaweli Multi Purpose Project. Government of Iran is providing a loan for this project and an agreement was signed recently. The project is planned to be completed within 4 years and the loan is to be paid back within a 20-year period which includes a 5-year grace period.
Although the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Management said that the services of local engineers will be obtained in planning and construction phases of the project, the government of Iran has vested the power of construction to an Iranian company, named FARAB. This company is the chief contractor. They have agreed to obtain the services of local engineers and draftsmen. This will result a return of a considerable amount of funds of the loan back to Iran through the company. Sri Lankans will be debtors for these funds and will have to pay it. Then what would be the final results of the project? It could be a huge environmental damage and serious social problems. We wish that the politicians, planners and government officials will soon understood the factual situation of the Uma Oya Multi Purpose Project.


Prepared by – Sajeewa Chamikara

National meeting on Kalpitiya Tourism Issue

Written By Joining Hands Network on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 | 12:02 AM



Praja Abhilasha Network,National Fisheries Solidarity and All Ceylon Fisher Folk Trade Union conducted a National Meeting Collectively regarding Kalpitiya Toursim Issue on 06th June 2011 at National library & Documentation Service board in Colombo.

the objective of this meeting is that to gain the support of Civil Organizations,NGOs,Trade Unions,Media People and etc... in order to overcome the issue. About 100 organizations' representatives we were present for the national meeting.

Herman kumara has pointed out the problems which was formed due to this Kalpitiya Integrated Tourism project.Further ,the community people Pathmanathan,Ayub,Dinesh continued and added. there are three islands have been leased out such as Illuppanthivu,Vellai-1,Vellai-02. Now the people who are in Mugaththuwaram is facing lots of problems they are unable to carry out their livelihood as it was earlier. Land grabbing is taking place all over the islands,violation of land law,No transperancy regarding the project,

Herewith everything are decided by the President family so people are nervous to intervene.Therefore we collectively formed a Allaiance in order to fight againist this project, Here some dicissions were taken,such as: File a case regarding the Desruction of environment(destruction of mangroves)and ensuring the livelihood.

Rev.Fr.Sarath Indamalgoda, Aruna Roshantha and Geetha lakmini have modarated the meeting.
Praja Abhilasha Coordinator Francis Raajan stated that how they have involved up to now and the necessity of collective effort.

Violating the Costal Conservation rules in Kalpitiya Islands

Written By Joining Hands Network on Thursday, May 26, 2011 | 5:21 AM



Where is the right to land for Estate workers in hill country?

Written By Joining Hands Network on Monday, May 9, 2011 | 12:17 AM


Voice of People
“We have been living in the hill country for 180 years though, we are unable to gain the land right”

“land right is a dream for us”
“No freedom in the estate, because we have to get permission for everything from the management”
“Are we not human beings? Why do they discriminate us?”



These comments have been raised out by the estate worker’s leaders who took part at the workshop which was organized by Praja Abhilasha Network via APEDCO on 08th May, 2011 at CWF Hall in Hatton.


Further we discussed regarding the current issues of the estate workers, they have listed out the issues such as: No Housing and land rights, Lack of welfare services, Lack of education, No-drinking water, No proper transportation, No-security, language barriers, injustice, No fare wages, and etc..
Meanwhile, the people have identified the root causes. Trade unions leaders separate the people and cheat them, misleading, no co-operation among the people, No Unity among the people, estate sector is not in the state administration in Sri Lanka. Not included in the flow of the development activities, Companies focus the income generating without considering the people’s needs.
So the people have come for a common decision that they think that if they have a right to land and housing, they don’t need to depend on the estate management. Therefore participants discussed regarding the solutions for gaining the rights. So the participants decided to make aware the estate people regarding these issues.

There were 80 leaders participated in the workshop, and facilitated by Mr.Herman Kumara(Convener of NAFSO),Francis Raajan (Local Coordinator of Praja Abhilasha),Anthony Jesudasan(Coordinator of People Dialogue Network),Dr.Ravi Varma, Priyankara

Relief Aid for the flood affected people

Written By Joining Hands Network on Wednesday, April 6, 2011 | 8:31 AM


Praja Abhilasha Network has provided a Relief Aid to the flood affected people during the worst rain in February all over in Sri Lanka, PA coordinator and the network partners have engaged to provide the relief in Mannar,Batticaloa,Amapara,Trincomalee, Puttalam and Polannaruwa. the districts coordinators were fully involved volunteerly to service.

கட்டுநாயக்க விமான நிலையம் இரட்டை ஓடுபாதைகள் கொண்டதாக விரிவுபடுத்தப்படவுள்ளது

Written By Joining Hands Network on Monday, April 4, 2011 | 9:03 AM

கட்டுநாயக்க சர்வதேச விமான நிலையம் இரட்டை ஓடுபாதைகள் கொண்டதாக விரிவுபடுத்தப்படுவதற்கென அதனையண்டிய நுாறு ஹெக்டயார் காணி சுவீகரிக்கப்படவுள்ளது.கட்டுநாயக்க விமான நிலையம் கடைசியாக 1986ம் ஆண்டில் விரிவுபடுத்தப்பட்டிருந்தது. அதன் பின் விமானநிலையத்தைச் சுற்றிலும் வெற்றுக்காணிகள் இன்மை காரணமாக பல தடவைகள் முன்னெடுக்கப்பட்ட விரிவாக்கல் நடவடிக்கைகள் இடைநடுவில் கைவிடப்பட்டிருந்தன.

தற்போதைய நிலையில் கட்டுநாயக்க விமானத்தளத்தில் ஒரேயொரு ஓடுபாதை மட்டுமே இருந்தாலும், அதனைப் பயன்படுத்தி மணித்தியாலமொன்றுக்கு சுமார் இருபத்தி ஐந்து விமானப் பறப்புக்களை மேற்கொள்ள முடியும் என்று கூறப்படுகின்றது.

கட்டுநாயக்க விமானநிலையத்துக்கு மேலதிகமாக தற்போது அரசாங்கம் ஹம்பாந்தோட்டையின் மத்தள பிரதேசத்திலும் சர்வதேச விமான நிலையமொன்றை நிர்மாணிக்க ஆரம்பித்துள்ளதுடன் அதன் ஓடுபாதை 4000 மீற்றர் நீளமும், 75 மீற்றர் அகலம் கொண்டதாகவும் அமைக்கப்பட்டு வருகின்றது.
Source: Tamilwin

Capacity Building workshop for North & East Youth who were affected by war

Written By Joining Hands Network on Thursday, March 31, 2011 | 9:24 PM


Praja Abhilasha Network has conducted a workshop from 10th-12th March,2011 for north and east youths who were affected and displaced by war. there were 26 youths presence for the workshop, these youths will contribute their fullest co-operation for the land rights campaign. further,the participants mentioned that they will provide information to strengthen campaign.Participants came from Mannar,Kilinochchi,Jaffna,Batticaloa and Trincomalee

Let's voice for Mullikkulam IDPs' Traditional Land.

Written By Joining Hands Network on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 | 11:40 PM


Praja Abhilsha Network has intervened regarding the issue of IDPs who evicted from Mullikkulam.Herewith PA has brought to light this issue internationally via some medias and NGOs. now the government and Bishop of Mannar has provided an alternative land in place of Mullikkkulam,but still the people are demanding for their own mother land where they lived before displaced.Unfortunatly people are evicted in the name of Ntional security and Tourism Development.We should highlight this issue world wide and let's join hands againist the forced eviction of Mullikkulam IDPs.


Francis Raajan with Mullikkulam IDPs During the discussion on 24th, March,2011 at Thalvupadu Church

A piece of land to call her own

Following a shadow report presented by the non-governmental organization, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), a UN body urges Sri Lanka to recognize joint or co-ownership for both men and women when the state allocates land to married couples. Kumudini Hettiarachchi reports
For a country which boasts of being the first in the world to have a woman Prime Minister way back in 1960, "urgings" by a top UN watch-dog on the rights of women come as the proverbial drop of cow-dung in a pot of milk.

The urgings by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on joint land ownership for both men and women whenever state lands are distributed to families have been made at its 48th session held from January 17-February 4, this year.

While urging Sri Lanka to recognize joint or co-ownership of land, CEDAW has also stated the need to speedily amend the Land Development Ordinance to ensure that joint or co-ownership is granted to both spouses when the state allocates land to married couples.


'Head of the household' concept being discussed at Bogawantalawa. Pix by M.A. Pushpa Kumara
The focus on joint or co-ownership whenever state land is distributed not only under routine schemes but also when families are displaced by conflict or disasters or land is allocated to the plantation workers has been lobbied by many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which see the plight of women left in the lurch without home and hearth, the Sunday Times learns.

However, amendments to the archaic Land Development Ordinance have not gone beyond Parliament, though these crucial issues have been discussed at length, it is understood. This was the first time that the issue of joint or co-ownership of land was taken up at the CEDAW sessions in Geneva, following a shadow report presented by the NGO, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), which had formed a lobby group in 2009 to advocate this matter.

The lobby group consists of international NGOs CARE International and Oxfam Australia; the grassroots network Praja Abhilaasha; the women's organizations Women and Media Collective and the Muslim Women's Research and Action Forum; and the Estate Community Development Mission representing the plantation sector.

Explaining that joint ownership of land whenever the state distributes it to families would help in ensuring equality between married couples, it may contribute to the prevention of family disputes as the woman is also empowered, COHRE's Shyamala Gomez, the Senior Programme Officer for Women's Housing Rights stresses. Single ownership in these instances violates the core right of every person in this country which ensures equality before the law.

Whether the land is given to the man or the woman, there is discrimination in single ownership, she says, adding that most often it is the man who gets the land because he signs all the documents and applies for the land. Although there's no bar to women applying and in some instances they do, regrettably the majority either due to the inherent culture or pressure by men tend to allow the men to sign the papers. Thus the women get disentitled.

"If men and women are equal as ensured categorically by the Constitution, then public officials when alienating state land must do so under joint ownership," says Ms. Gomez, pointing out that when COHRE approached the Commissioner-General of Land the counter argument put forward was that the law prohibits joint ownership. "It was an uphill task," she says, adding that they then sought the opinion of the Attorney-General and also went to the grassroots not only talking to the women (see box) but also government officials.

The Attorney-General's opinion was clear - the issue is open-ended, she says, with no prohibition of joint ownership. But in practice it was a different matter, even after the Commissioner-General of Land was informed. The AG had stated that the law……"does not contain any prohibition against making of grants or other dispositions creating co-ownership……"

Think of the consequences of single ownership, urges Ms. Gomez, pointing out that in this patriarchal society, the man will sign all the documents and once the land is given in his name, the woman will be at his mercy.

COHRE's shadow report quotes research that discloses how women are not given equal access to state-allocated land. An example is the Mahweli area where although 20% of the land in the old villages had been owned by women, in the newly-settled villages the land is almost entirely owned by men.
Why is joint ownership such a vital issue? "Without a piece of land to call their own and put down roots, women have been left high and dry. They are not empowered because even to find some economic security or begin a self-employment project they can't get bank loans. If they had joint ownership, the land could be used as collateral," says Ms. Gomez.

COHRE and its partners are not fighting for the sun and the moon for women, only an equal place in the sun for both men and women. Joint ownership while promoting equality may very well contribute to a reduction in domestic violence in the country because the women will be empowered, says Ms. Gomez whose battles have been justified by CEDAW.

Her plea is simple - give the humble women of Sri Lanka their rightful place in the family by granting joint ownership of state land because with it will come dignity as well. This plea is silently echoed by the thousands, nay millions of women who toil alongside their husbands not only to ensure the wellbeing of the family but also the development of the country.

No discrimination in distribution of state land

Nearly 50% of the 1.2 million land parcels allocated by the state under the Land Development Ordinance are owned by women, stresses Additional Secretary (Lands), S.D.A.B. Boralessa of the Lands Ministry when contacted by the Sunday Times, pointing out that it is the family unit that is taken into account in such allocations.

Explaining that there is no discrimination against women in the first instance, as either spouse who signs the application will get the land, he says that the problems arise thereafter when the parcel goes to the next generation if the owner has not nominated an inheritor.


S.D.A.B. Boralessa
Tracing the inheritance policy as specified by the Land Development Ordinance, the Additional Secretary says the person who signs the application, most probably after discussion with the spouse gets the land, with life interest being assured for the spouse, be it a woman or a man.

Joint ownership will also cause problems about a clear title, and to pinpoint who will be responsible in developing the land, which is mandatory, will be difficult. Under the Land Development Ordinance, if the lot is not developed it can be taken back by the state.

If the owner dies without nominating an heir, then according to the Third Schedule of the Ordinance, the land will go to the first category, the sons. The daughters come after that. This is where we have got many complaints and that's why an amendment seeking the first heirs as "children" and not "sons" followed by "daughters" is being sought from Parliament, he says.

But amendments have run into snags because land alienation is devolved and subject to restrictions and Provincial Councils have a say in it, the Sunday Times understands.

For Mr. Boralessa, however, the discrimination against women comes not in the allocation of state land but in the inheritance of private land under the civil law. Although 80% of the land in Sri Lanka is state land, we have distributed only 1.5 million parcels (1.2m under the Land Development Ordinance to landless peasants and 0.3m under the Crown Lands Ordinance to those in urban areas), he says, adding that although the balance 20% is owned privately, there are 20m land parcels which cause much discrimination to women under the civil law. "We must first look at the civil law."

With regard to issues that may have arisen when distributing land after the tsunami, Mr. Boralessa said that they held workshops with Divisional Secretaries in those areas and advised them to issue the land permit in the wife's name if a report from the Department of Probation and Child Care indicated problems of harassment of the wife by the husband.

Away with the “head of the household”

Another bone of contention that CEDAW has dealt with is the "head of the household" concept, urging Sri Lanka to abolish it. This is the second issue that COHRE has taken up, pointing out that though the gruha mulikaya concept is gender neutral, in administrative practice it has led to the discrimination of women.

COHRE's shadow report points out that the only existing definition for the head of the household seems to be that of the Department of Census and Statistics which states, "the person who usually resides in the household and is acknowledged by the other members as the head".

It states: "According to historians, the origin of the concept of the head of the household is connected with land ownership………The usage of the concept by the colonizers was an unfortunate consequence….……the continued use of the concept seems to have granted it social recognition and facilitated its entry to formal, legal and administrative structures of the state."

Ms. Gomez argues that this concept has resulted in discrimination against women and cites the example of the tsunami and the allocation of state land to those who lost their land. "When the state allocated new land to those who had lost land (in the tsunami) it gave it to the person who had signed the relevant form as head ……….A study of 100 cases conducted by COHRE reveals that 85% of women state that new property was given in the name of the spouse even though property was in their names prior to the tsunami," the shadow report states.

The Sunday Times last year sat in on a session held by COHRE for estate women in Bogawantalawa to get their views on the head of the household concept. There were jokes and laughter. There was also healthy debate and serious discussion.

"I am the one who goes for the meetings when my children's school summons us. I go for work. My husband stays in the town and doesn't know anything that's happening. I am the head of my family. I can do anything that he does," says S. Yogaluxmi, the most talkative in the group.

The others nod their heads in vigorous agreement, and quietly murmur that whenever a form comes from the government it is the husband who signs it. Sometimes, even though the husband doesn't work, he signs the documents and if I question he comes drunk and assaults me, another woman tells the Sunday Times.

To the crucial question: Who is the head of the family, the answer is prompt. It should be the person who works. If both husband and wife work - the logic is simple. Then it should be both the husband and the wife.

But what is the ground reality? Invariably, the women say, they will either give the name of their husband or son, for that is the way things have been happening.

Whatever the men do, we can too, says another woman, adding however that most women don't go for meetings because they are in the evening and they can't come back alone at night. "That's why the men go for meetings and not the women. That is the reason why men get all the benefits offered by the government and not the women," she says.

Source from:http://sundaytimes.lk/110306/Plus/plus_08.html (Sunday March 06,)

International Monitoring Mission in Kalpitiya

Written By Joining Hands Network on Monday, March 28, 2011 | 11:01 PM

Bishop of Mannar donates land to 52 IDP families

Mullikkulam village has been transformed into a Navy outpost. In exchange families have been offered the Kayakuli area in the middle of the jungle. But for its deforestation, all borne by the population, no help has come from government and non-profit organizations.


Colombo (AsiaNews) - Mgr Rayappu Joseph, bishop of Mannar, has donated a piece of land to 52 Tamil Catholic families who were displaced from their village of Mullikkulam (Mannar district), so that they can build homes and start a new life there . The Sri Lankan navy has in fact taken possession of the village "for security reasons", without providing further explanation to the expelled inhabitants.

Fr. Victor Soosai, vicar general of the diocese, said in the northwest of the Naval Commando Navy was erected in Mullikkulam. The 287 families living there, were offered in exchange the Kayakuli area: a piece of land in the jungle, eight kilometres from the Chilawathurai junction. Of these, 125 families have accepted the offer, because of difficulties related to living with the host families.

"The main problem – says Fr. Soosai - is fishing: at Valkaipettankandal, where they are now, it's almost impossible to fish. At least there's room to fish in Kayakuli". The vicar general denounces that the cost and actual deforestation of the jungle is falling on the shoulders of the families: they have received no help from government or from any non-governmental organization.

The proposal made by the government was not accepted by all. "52 Mullikulam families have written a letter to Msgr. Joseph, rejecting resettlement in Kayakuli and asking for a place to go. " No family has agreed to accept any alternative venue, if not their own village. On receipt of the letter, the bishop of the diocese gave them the Tharavankottai area, four miles south-west of Mannar, owned by the Bishop of Mannar.

The Catholic Tamil village of Mullikkulam is located about 80 km from the town of Mannar has a long history dating back 300 years. The families who lived there have always lived by fishing and agriculture. The first internally displaced persons (IDPs) date back to 1991, during the first phase of the civil war. In 2007, with renewed conflict, there was a new wave of IDPs.

At the moment, more than 327 thousand people throughout the country are still displaced, after thirty years of conflict which ended in May 2009. At least 195 thousand people have returned to their places of origin, but are not yet self-sufficient and are in need of protection and assistance.


source: Asia News by Melani Manel Perera

TOURISM IN KALPITIYA: STOP AND REVIEW NOW

Written By Joining Hands Network on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 | 10:21 PM






TOURISM IN KALPITIYA: STOP AND REVIEW NOW


Between the fence and the deep sea

In Mohothtuwarama village in the Kalpitiya division of Sri Lanka, more than a thousand people are trapped! The sea has washed their huts away. Living there for generations and familiar with the ocean and its ways, they would simply move further inland when this happens. This time, however, it was not possible. The land has been taken over for a government tourism project, fences erected and gates locked.

The Mohothtuwarama villagers are not alone in their distress. Nearby islands such as Illuppanthivu and Uchchamunai are also facing a similar predicament. More and more land is being sequestered and access denied, thereby putting villagers’ homes and livelihoods at risk, their rights under threat and their peace of mind in jeopardy. And yet, the people themselves appear to have little say in the matter and feel that they have no one to help them, nowhere to turn.

The Kalpitiya Islands and the Tourism Master Plan of the Sri Lankan Government

As part of a proposed countrywide tourism development plan with the aim of bringing 2.5 million tourists to Sri Lanka by 2016 against 0.6 million at the end of 2010, the Ceylon Tourist Board (CTB) has chosen 14 islands in Kalpitiya in the Puttalam district of the North Western province as the site for the Kalpitiya Dutch Bay Resort Development Project, launched in 2008. Kalpitiya is a peninsula that separates the Puttalam lagoon from the Indian Ocean and is a marine sanctuary with a diversity of habitats ranging from bar reefs, flat coastal plains, saltpans, mangroves swamps, salt marshes and vast sand dune beaches. Dolphins, sea turtles and coral reefs are plentiful in the zone. Nearby attractions include Wilpattu sanctuary, a historical Dutch fort and church, St. Anne’s church in Thalawila and the ancient historic city of Anuradhapura. The 14 islands have a total landmass of 1672.67 hectares (4133.19 acres). Nine islands totaling 268.94 hectares (664.28 acres) are entirely state land whereas the remaining ones have mixed ownership, public and private. The area is mostly inhabited by poor fisher families numbering 10000 or more. The majority are Sinhalese and Muslims with a sprinkling of Tamils and others. Roman Catholicism and Islam are the principal religions. Kalpitiya is a relatively underdeveloped region of the country. Education, healthcare, infrastructure and services are scarce and of low quality. For instance, the level of schooling in the fisher community is only up to the 4th/5th standard or less, despite the fact that Sri Lanka as a whole ranks fairly high among developing countries in terms of basic social indicators.

According to the tourism development plan, seventeen hotels with a total capacity of 5000 rooms and 10000 beds are to be built. Of these, 3 each are five and four-star hotels, 2 are three-star, 1 two-star and 1 one-star. The remaining 7 have not yet been classified. A wide variety of tourist activities are in the offing including fishing tourism, deep sea diving, nature-based tourism, beach, sport and adventure tourism, and agro tourism. In addition, culture, village and event tourism are also planned. Hotels, chalets, water bungalows, Ayurvedic hotels, beach cabanas, sun huts, outdoor barbeque pits, open air performance areas will be available. In order to attract all categories of tourists to the resort, a plethora of attractions and activities will be offered. Cable car tours, theme parks, underwater amusement parks, boat safaris, water sports, golf courses, observation towers, camping, race course, cricket grounds, farms and botanical gardens, shopping centers, museums, art and entertainment centers will cater to tourists - young or old, rich or budget, adventurous or sedate. To facilitate tourism, infrastructure development will be undertaken including helipads, sea flight ports, jetties, cycling routes, and foot pathways. A domestic airport will be built on Uchchamunai island. Furthermore, amenities such as electricity, water, drainage, telecommunications and solid and liquid disposal systems will all be put in place. According to government estimates, the project will generate a total of 37500 new jobs with 15000 being direct ones and 22500 indirect. The private sector is heavily involved in the project with local corporations as well as multinationals being major stakeholders.


Enter the IFFM


An international Fact-Finding Mission (IFFM), staffed by eminent civil society representatives from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, undertook a wide-ranging investigation at the grassroots level in order to determine the scope of the tourism project and its possible consequences. Over an extended period of five days - 23 to 27 February 2011 - the team visited Kalpitiya and the islands of Mohothtuwarama, Illuppanthivu and Uchchamunai and interacted with a large number of individuals, groups and organizations. In addition to villagers and their communities, the panel met with government officials, NGO activists, religious and community leaders, journalists, and representatives of cooperatives and trade unions. Carefully documenting their findings and subjecting those to an in-depth analysis, the IFFM members came up with a set of observations and recommendations that were reported in a press briefing held on the 27th. The main contact groups for the IFFM were the Food Sovereignty Network of South Asia (FSNSA), NAFSO (Sri Lanka), Praja Abhilasha Network (Sri Lanka) and IMSE (India).

As Government sees it

The IFFM met with several government officials in Puttalam and Kalpitiya including representatives from the Fisheries Board, Divisional Secretariat, Coast Conservation Department and Regional Council. For logistical reasons, officials from the Ceylon Tourism Board (CTB) could not be interviewed. According to the assistant director of the fisheries department in Puttalam, who is responsible for issuing permits to fishermen, illegal fishing is the main problem faced by fisher families at this time. Fishing remains small-scale and family-based and there is no corporate fishing. Fishermen’ cooperatives are coordinated by the Fisheries Department in conjunction with the Cooperatives Department. In Puttalam district, there are 15546 active fishermen and 12680 fishing families. A total of 44380 people are directly involved in fishing and related activities such as drying fish. Fishing is regulated by the Fisheries Management Act of 1996. Other than issuing permits, the fisheries department has taken up a number of welfare programs for fishermen such as training for safety at sea, instruction in techniques of preparing and selling dry fish, and provision of solar power panels since there is no electricity in the islands. In addition, a major initiative called the RELP (Regional Fisheries Livelihood Program) involving Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Timor and Vietnam has recently been mooted with five key areas of concern - core management, safety at sea, microfinance, post-harvesting and alternative livelihoods. In Puttalam itself, officials from different government departments meet once a month to discuss issues pertinent to fishing and fishermen. The district secretary coordinates the meeting. Additional meetings are also held on a regular basis.

Regarding tourism and the project, the assistant director started by making the general observation that Sri Lanka was a developing country with limited resources that needed to be used wisely and well. Kalpitiya was a good site for tourism, which ought to be developed further. On no account however, were fishermen to be hurt or their livelihoods compromised. In order to do this, more inter-agency coordination would be needed. Expansion of infrastructure such as landing sites and construction of community halls were some of his specific suggestions for improving the lives and overall condition of fishermen. The assistant director rued that not enough information on the tourism project was available to him and expressed his desire to know more, especially on the issues of direct concern to his department.

The same issue of inadequate information about the project, even on the part of government officials, also came up in the conversation that the IFFM held with the Divisional Secretary of Kalpitiya, whose office is responsible for handling all land-related matters. The lack of information has been partly engendered by the fact that all major decisions regarding this particular project, from conceptualization to elaboration of a master plan, were done in Colombo under a special procedure and with direct Cabinet approval. The divisional secretariat has been charged with the responsibility for identifying “state” and “private” land, acquiring land from private owners and giving it over to the Tourism Board. In his view, fishing communities ought to be a part and parcel of the process. At the same time, he felt that there was a consensus on the project at the governmental level and its overall impact would be positive. For instance, infrastructure development and employment generation were expected to benefit the local communities. Some negative fallout on the cultural side was a possibility, although minor in nature. The process of identification and buying of land was already under way with 5000 acres acquired so far. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been conducted and the report will be available in the public domain including the internet.

“Not every change is harmful”. That is how an official of the Coast Conservation Department (CCD) summed up his views on the tourism project in Kalpitiya. Should there be any negative effects - none apparent so far - these must be settled by negotiated conservation among stakeholders including fishing communities. A highlight of the tourism plan, according to this respondent, was its emphasis on eco-tourism. Fishermen too are being encouraged to engage in eco-friendly fishing. Moreover, they are expected to profit from the project in various way such as lending their extra boats to the tourism department to ferry tourists.

A somewhat less enthusiastic appraisal of the project was voiced by an outgoing member of the Kalpitiya Regional Council. In his opinion, there was no proper coordination among local people, local governmental bodies and the CTB even now, although preliminary surveys had been done by the government as early as 2005 and actual acquisition of land had started in 2007. However, land acquisition was already under way even before the EIA report was available for viewing and discussion. Not the usual procedure, this contributed further to the prevailing confusion since determining land ownership was an exceedingly complex issue. Citing the case of the Noraichchulai power plant project nearby where such information and communication gap led to major problems and a popular protest, he stressed the need for an informed and sustained dialog among all stakeholders. Himself a local, he felt strongly about the issue and although not completely averse to the idea of people being shifted for the project, he emphasized that it must be done properly with careful attention being paid to their physical and emotional well-being, down to the minutest details. For instance, while the CCD official expressed the view that fishermen would be able to augment their income by ferrying tourists in the spare boats, this interviewee was of the opinion that hotel owners were unlikely to allow this to happen. Not only will this deprive the locals, it could impact the security of tourists as outsiders would not know the waters as well. Dolphins and other aquatic flora and fauna could be harmed and their natural habitat damaged. As the council worked closely with the community and was responsible for taking care of the everyday needs of the people ranging from providing information to keeping the streets clean to ensuring proper running of community schools, the council member felt that he was in an unenviable position since promises made by government were sometimes not kept. A clear example would be the beach seines which were indeed affected despite assurances to the contrary. As a member of the ruling party, his desire was to get complete and timely information from higher-ups enabling him to pass it on to the local community. Promises must be kept and locals must benefit from the project. He would stand by his people.

Vox populi - Peoplespeak

Community, Religious and Civil Society organizations
As part of its exploration, the IFFM met with several individuals and organizations whose ideas and work had a direct bearing on the issue of tourism in Kalpitiya. These included the All Ceylon Fisher Folk Trade Union (Kalpitiya Branch), Organization for the Protection of People’s Rights, the assistant parish priest of Kalpitiya, the NGO Humanitarian Brotherhood Foundation (HBF), Traders Association of Kalpitiya, journalists, social workers and local businessmen.

A full 99% of the 750 or so families in 6 of the islands earmarked for the tourism project were fishing families, according to the representative of the All Ceylon Fisher Folk Trade Union, Kalpitiya. They had some knowledge about the project early on in the process. About five or six years ago, the Ceylon Tourism Board had organized a meeting with the village communities to inform them about the project and has since reiterated its commitment to helping them. However, villagers felt left out especially when an entire mangrove island - Illuppanthivu, measuring 140 acres or so - that they used as a base for fishing was taken over by the Board. The island was once actually inhabited by fishermen who had been moved and resettled elsewhere by the government during the LTTE period. An appeal to CEDEC (now called CARITAS) - a church body concerned with social issues - resulted in an offer of 10 acres on the island for the villagers to continue their fishing activities. Even this meager portion of land is yet to be handed over. Many other issues such as land for building a boatyard, banning of several kinds of fishing (mainly for environmental reasons), marketing of harvest and meddling by politicians in the local cooperatives have prevented the fisher folk from uniting in a common cause with acute poverty also being a significant factor in their feeling of loneliness and despair. The old fisher cooperative, set up by the Fisheries Department, has been all but supplanted by a new one, again set up by the same office. This has resulted in increased tension and confusion within the community. Lack of consultation has left the communities uninformed and uncertain about their future. However, this conversation with the IFFM has rekindled their hope for becoming meaningful participants in the process. Enthused and buoyed, they put forth the following demands.
• Sensitize political and religious leaders about the issues facing the villagers.
• Create a space for discussing their issues and problems.
• They have little information. More is needed.
• They are not opposed to tourism but want it on their own terms.

Lack of information and consultation came up again as central issues in the IFFM’s conversation with the Organization for Protection of People’s Rights on the current situation in Mohothtuwarama. Even construction has started without proper consultation. Letters to concerned authorities have fetched no reply except for a brief note that a letter has been shared with the GS (Grama Sevaka). As property prices have shot up and developers have acquired land, even the beach seines requiring 100 meters of room have become nearly inoperable. Some people, mostly non-resident landowners and a few locals as well, have willingly sold their land, thus making the situation even more complex. Traditional pathways have been put off limits, forcing the fishers to walk miles and miles to get to the beach only a few hundred meters away. When they cut the fences, the hoteliers retaliated by digging pits. The authorities refused to accede to the villagers’ demand for getting “patta” (land titles) or at least a written promise. This led to a great deal of friction between the two parties. In view of the skyrocketing price of land - reportedly selling for 40 lakh per acre on the beach side and 25 at the lagoon end - it was all the more important to accurately determine land ownership and give legal titles. Eviction is a constant fear that communities were plagued with and there are even some reports and rumors that displacement is actually taking place in some islands.

Viewing the land situation as a critical matter requiring immediate attention, the church organization CEDEC (CARITAS) has recently organized a meeting with significant participation by the islanders, as the IFFM was told by the newly appointed assistant parish priest of the Kalpitiya Church. The Catholic Church has a major presence in the region, counting 1300 families in Kalpitiya and another 1000 in the islands as its members. While skeptical that fisherfolk stood to gain much from the tourism project, the church was resolved to support their cause and try to limit the harm that might come their way.

The Humanitarian Brotherhood Foundation (HBF) is a registered NGO with a record of long and active service in Kalpitiya. In their view, lack of transparency was a major drawback of the way the project has been conceptualized and was currently being implemented. This was rendered all the more serious by the fact that the project was likely to have both positive and negative outcomes and people needed to be properly informed so they could make the best possible choices. A Land Acquisition Policy (1971) was in place, and while such acquisition was not necessarily illegal or in contradiction with stated government policy, still the entire process needed to be participatory and open. For example, government normally gives retractable permits for temporary use of state land and agriculturalists and fishers often use other people’s land with their permission. If permits were suddenly revoked or owners sold their land, these people would be summarily denied access and their livelihoods placed under severe threat. The HBF has been instrumental in motivating the Mohothtuwarama villagers to take up the relevant issues with the government and the NGO has also set up a women’s body - Integrated Development Program - to ensure that women would have their fair share in the decisionmaking process. Additionally, HBF is starting skill building programs, hotel management training institutes, capacity enhancement and alternative livelihood training such as handicrafts and cottage industries. A woman member of the NGO asserted that women were increasingly viewing the tourism project in terms of job creation and marketing opportunities for products such as dry fish, palmyra and seashell work.

Expanded employment and marketing opportunities emerged as the core issues in the meeting that the IFFM conducted with the Traders Association in Kalpitiya. About 65% of the population in Kalpitiya proper is Muslim and many are businessmen, dealing in goods such as textiles, jewelry and fancy products. Like many others interviewed before and after, the businessmen too had the feeling of being left in the dark about the project and stated that they had the first inkling about it only when people actually came to buy land. While they were hopeful that improvements in infrastructure would aid their business, they were wary of outside competition in both goods and investment and feared that the hotel industry would have a negative impact on culture. Some employment for locals may or may not be generated, but it would not be culturally appropriate for members of the Muslim community to have their children work in hotels and such. Asked about their view of development, they named education, infrastructure, water (provided by the state) and improved healthcare as their top priorities and wondered to what extent the tourism project would bring these amenities to the area. Fishermen, however, were likely to face the biggest challenge which in turn would also affect them as the two communities - fishing and business - were closely connected, buying and selling from each other and sharing the same home. As one businessman put it: “At the end of the day, we will support our city people.”

Possible impacts of the tourism project on business also featured in discussions with local hotel owners/managers in Kalpitiya who hope that they will still be able to keep budget tourists while the richer ones may flock to the luxury hotels and resorts. Small business could also get a boost. The general feeling, however, was that lack of education was a fundamental impediment to any real development of the area and this in itself would hinder people from taking full advantage of possible benefits of the tourism project and similar schemes. The need for people-centered development was also the focal point in conversations with journalists, community leaders and social activists from organizations such as NAFSO and Praja Abhilasha, closely familiar with the region and its people. In their view, education, along with a participatory model of development would foster awareness which in turn would lead to a concerted effort for a common cause and the belief in being able to make a difference.

Villagers - the view from below

The IFFM visited three island communities - Mohothtuwarama, Illuppanthivu and Uchchamunai and conducted meetings with individuals and communities.

Mohothtuwarama
The lives of Mohothtuwarana villagers are changing rapidly. Living there for generations, they would walk the short distance to the sea at their doorstep, work the beach seines and fish. Owing to a dearth of fresh water, they cannot farm and fishing is their primary occupation. Some collect crabs and seashells and a few run small businesses. Some land distribution was undertaken by government after the 1971 Land Ceiling Act. However, many lack land titles and determining land ownership is a vexatious and thorny issue with claims and counterclaims, multiple ownership, encroachment, corruption and title suits going on for generations. At 715.14 hectares (1766.39 acres), it is the largest of the fourteen islands and will bear the brunt of the tourism project with the largest number of hotels - 10 out of a total of 17 with 2300 out of 5000 rooms - to be built here. Tourists have always come to Mohothtuwarana, but they were few in number and did not upset the rhythm of the villagers’ daily lives. From around 2004 however, ideas of developing tourism in a big way slowly took root and the influx of visitors rose sharply. Rich people started acquiring land that was still cheap. The land was later sold to developers who fenced it off. Although a gazette notification of 1985 provided for only 20 meters of beach land for operating the seines, necessity and custom demanded that 100 meters be set aside for the purpose. All of a sudden, however, there was no room to haul in the nets as beach strips as long as hundreds of meters were cordoned off. The fence has recently been extended. Companies such as Hassan Gate and De Silva have put up notice boards denying access and so has the Tourism Board, thus literally leaving the villagers high and dry. In addition to losing easy access to the sea and the beach, villagers must now walk long distances on circuitous routes to reach the church, cemetery and other places they would visit as a matter of course. When the sea comes in, they cannot move their dwellings further inland, as they always have. Some of the fences also seem to fall within the 300 meters mark from the high tide point inside which it is illegal to put up structures. All of this has been done with little consultation with villagers that has made them confused and resentful. Anxious and fearful about what the future holds for them and their home, they are slowly beginning to put their differences away and come together to speak as one.

The Mohothtuwarana villagers demand that:
• Land titles must be given to them without delay.
• Tourism should not disturb their lives and livelihoods.
• They should have free and easy access to the sea and the tourist islands for
fishing, as before.
• They should not be coaxed or coerced by government or developers into parting
with their lands.
• Identification cards must be provided for fishermen, especially when fishing in
the islands, to avoid problems and misunderstandings with the navy and others.
• Villagers must be consulted and full disclosure of all plans and proposals must
be made to them. They should be an integral part of the entire process.

Illuppanthivu
More than one hundred fishermen live and fish on Illuppanthivu island during the week and go home elsewhere in the weekend. Sometimes their families visit and stay with them on the island. The island has been taken over by a hotelier who has so far allowed them to remain there and fish but what the future will bring, no one can say. The catch is uneven and slowly declining. Sometimes it brings in fish worth 2000 rupees a day for a fisherman, at other times he might earn little or nothing. Practically all are in debt for buying the boats which they themselves own, repairing engines and purchasing fishing nets. At 10 to 12 per cent, the interest rate is high. The navy is cooperative to the limited extent of giving them permits to fish and issuing identification cards. Out of the approximately 190 acres of the entire island, fishermen are asking for a small piece of land to use as a base to continue fishing. Five acres were made available to them by the hotelier, but the place was unsuitable with a profusion of seaweed that damaged the boat engines. At the moment, getting an appropriate plot is their main concern. But with hotels and tourism overtaking the place, they are worried that their serene and contented lifestyle is about to change drastically. Will they still be able to bring their wives and children on to the island? Only the future will tell.

Uchchamunai
Uchchamunai was once home to more that 600 families. Many moved away to Kalpitiya during the years of civil conflict and also because the island has no schools above the primary level. Approximately 270 or so families still live here but have no land titles. Small parcels of land have supposedly been reserved by the government for locals, but actual distribution is yet to take place. Large tracts of state land close to the sea have been set aside for the tourism project. Signboards, some put up by the navy, restricting entry are prominently displayed, high barbed-wire fences are in place and gates are securely locked. There are also plans to build a landing site for tourist seaplanes on the island. All of this have left the people alarmed, perplexed, and increasingly, angry. Realizing that they needed to discuss the issues in private as well as in public in order to come up with a consensus and a clear set of goals to build up a movement and garner outside support for their cause, they summarized their feelings in the following statements.
• They are afraid of being displaced and evicted from their homes.
• They want more information on the project. A senior official such as the
Divisional Secretary should come and give them details.
• They want education, healthcare, and infrastructure. These are their priorities.
• They are fearful that tourism will gravely damage their traditional lifestyle and
threaten their culture. Everything from choice of food to social relations will be
forced to change.
• They seriously doubt that tourism will create job opportunities for them.
• Although they are relatively powerless, they are willing to put up a resistance.
They intend to start intensive consultations with the people of other islands
under threat.

The IFFM observes and recommends

On the basis of its extensive interactions with a wide spectrum of stakeholders as delineated above, the IFFM has made the following observations.
• The project today is adversely affecting the livelihoods of the people and will
surely have a negative impact on their social and cultural realities as well.
• Already, the project has caused some land alienation resulting in considerable
restrictions on people’s access to sea, fishing and other activities.
• Entire communities face an imminent threat of displacement which appears to
be already under way.
• The process is suffering from a comprehensive absence of precise and timely
information for communities. Non-transparency, non-accountability and non-
responsiveness on the part of government and the consequent lack of people’s
participation is a matter of grave concern.
• While a study of the environmental impact of the project has been (EIA) has
been done, no such study on its socio-cultural and economic impact has been
conducted. Even the EIA report was not available in the public domain in a
timely fashion.
• In anticipation of large-scale private sector investment, a detailed Investors
Guideline has been prepared. However, corresponding regulatory mechanisms
are yet to be properly put in place.
• There is a groundswell of resentment and resistance against the project.
However, resistance has been weak so far due to lack of information,
coordination and apprehensions of reprisal by the state.

In light of the above observations, the IFFM recommends the following:
• The project must be stopped with immediate effect and a review carried out.
• A National Commission must be set up to conduct the said review.
• The review must take into account people’s aspirations and their notions of
development.
• The review should respect the social, economic, cultural and political rights of
the people and emphasize information flow, transparency and participation
thereby ensuring accountability on the state’s part.
• To address the issue of land alienation, legal land titles should be given.
• People’s livelihoods must not be disturbed on any account. Necessary measures
to ensure this, such as unimpeded access to the coast and sea, must be taken.
• Food sovereignty must be recognized as a fundamental right not to be
compromised in the name of development.

Development - one goal, two paths?

What model of development should an up and coming country like Sri Lanka pursue in order to move forward on the path of progress? What are the goals, rewards and pitfalls? In the case of the mammoth tourism project in Kalpitiya, the first in a series of such ventures across the nation, the government appears to have focused more on the rapid creation of wealth and somewhat less on the project’s differential impacts on the multifarious socio-economic groups and communities involved, especially the most vulnerable and marginal ones. The largest beneficiaries will be investors, developers, and the owners of resorts and hotels. Business might benefit as well. Taxes will flow into government coffers. Improvements in infrastructure will be a boon for the entire region. But for the unfortunate fishermen of Kalpitiya and the islands, eking out a meager living on their humble catamarans, the project is only the harbinger of the loss of home and livelihood. Uninformed, fearful and poor, they want and need direct and targeted programs in areas such as education, healthcare, clean drinking water, roads, job opportunities and capacity enhancement to improve their lives. They wish to preserve and enjoy their culture. Is it just and right that while others reap a windfall in profits and make merry, the sons of the soil are forced to content themselves merely by being chance beneficiaries of the project’s incidental fallout? Will the government, their very own, pay heed or will it just rush ahead with the project as planned, dazzled by the prospect of lucre and the chance to exhibit Sri Lanka and the Kalpitiya tourist zone as a “wonder of Asia”?

Press release on Kalipitiya Island Issue

Praja Abhilsha Network conducted a media briefing after the International Fact Finding Mission(IFFM)on 27th February,2011 in Negombo.



TOURISM PROJECT IN KALPITIYA ISLANDS: STOP AND REVIEW NOW
An International Fact Finding Mission (IFFM) with members from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand visited Kalpitiya islands from the 23rd to the 27th of February, 2011 with the objective of studying the ramifications of the Kalpitiya Integrated Tourism Resort Project (KITRP). During its visit, the IFFM met with representatives of state departments, religious institutions and civil society, political leaders and members of the affected communities.
On the basis of its extensive interactions with a wide spectrum of stakeholders, the IFFM has made the following observations.
• The project today is adversely affecting the livelihoods of the people and will surely have a negative impact on their social and cultural realities as well.
• Already, the project has caused land alienation and resulted in severe restrictions on people’s access to sea and fishing activities.
• Entire communities face an imminent threat of displacement which appears to be under way even now.
• The entire process is suffering from a severe lack of comprehensive, precise and timely information for communities. Non-transparency, non-accountability and non-responsiveness on the part of government resulting in the absence of the possibility and opportunity for the people to participate is a matter of grave concern.
• While a study of the environmental impact of the project (EIA) has been conducted, no such study has been done on its social, economic and cultural impacts. Even the EIA suffers from a lack of precision and depth.
• The KITRP is not in accordance with the Sri Lanka Tourism Master Plan and the Coastal Conservation Act Amendment of 2006. In this context, a lack of collaboration among relevant government departments is apparent.
• To facilitate large scale private sector investment, KITRP has come up with a detailed Investors Guidelines. However, no regulatory mechanism is in place.
• The people strongly resent this tourism project and are resisting it. However, the resistance has been weak so far due to their fear of state repression.
In the light of the above observations, the IFFM recommends the following:
• The project must be stopped with immediate effect. A review should be conducted taking into account the aspirations of the people and their notions of development.
• The review should respect the social, economic, cultural and political rights of the people with information flow, transparency and participation thereby ensuring accountability on the state’s part.
• To address the issue of increasing land alienation, legal land titles should be given.
• Peoples’ livelihoods should not be disturbed on any account. All necessary measures to ensure this such as unimpeded access to coast and such others must be taken.
In sum, the IFFM team affirms that food sovereignty be clearly recognized as a fundamental right and is not compromised in the name of development.

Two Island lease out near kalpitiya


Fact Finding Mission on Land & Sea Grabbing issues at Kalpitiya Islands in Puttlam district in Sri Lanka

Written By Joining Hands Network on Monday, March 21, 2011 | 10:30 PM

“STOP: The Displacement of Coastal Communities in the name of Wonders in Asia.”
Background:



During the discussion with the Asssistant Director of Fisheries Department in Puttalam

During the disucussion with Church Priest of Kalpitiya


During the discussion with the divisional secretary of Kalpitiya


IFFM Team at Coastal Conservation Department in Kalpitiya



Sri Lanka aims to be the “wonders in the Asia” within coming decade. For achieve this, the Sri Lankan governments’ main development plan is promotion of tourism and related activities in the country. The PRSP strategy in which then SL govt. adopted in 2002 mainly focus was to develop 14 tourism zones along the coast.[See the annex 1] However, amidst the people’s resistance it was withdrawn at that time and the government was defeated. But, the same plans emerged again as Post Tsunami Development Plans in 2005 under the former president ‘s guidance of Task Force For Rebuild Nation [TAFREN]. Some of the areas in this 14 locations were not touched at the beginning due to war and only Southern Sri Lanka was used for the tourism promotion process. In the Post War Development programs, under the present regime the main area of development they see is tourism. The aim is to bring 2.5 million tourists to Sri Lanka by 2016 against the 0.6 million tourists at the end of 2010. Last year, in 2010 it was reported number of arrived tourists were around 600,000 persons. Now, the government encourage private sector to invest in tourism and infra structure development for attract tourists to the country. With this aim, private sector attract the tourism sector and invest for the maximum benefit out of this opportunity.
As a part of out come of the formation of Food Sovereignty Network in Sri Lanka, in January 2011, the participants felt we need to engage campaign on land and sea grabbing issues all over the country. So, NAFSO and IMSE together with FSNSA decided to conduct a Fact Finding Mission on the tourism project that detrimental to food sovereignty, employment security, access rights, and the human rights of the communities in the islands in Kalpitiya peninsular.
Very importantly, the poor knowledge of the rights of the people, vulnerability due to un organize and least attention from the politicians and authorities push them in to the corners of the margins hence, they are the most marginalized among marginal communities in the country.
The knowledge and information we generate through FMM will help in many social layers, starting from the local communities. Regionally there is an important to local government to guide the people, district governing bodies to understand the irregularities of land use and how they negatively affect the local communities, specifically on fishers in the area. At the same time the study will help the national government to understand their development would not help the majority in the area hence they need to focus their attention to redraft the development policies and work towards more people centered sustainable development policies starting from the Kalpitiya islands and through out the country.
Objectives of the FFM
1. to promote people centered development & to highlight the need for defining development from people's perspective.
2 to focus the attention on impact of unsustainable tourism on the livelihoods of local dwellers.
3 to ensure right to land and livelihoods of small scale producers (peasants & fishers) in Kalpitiya Islands.
4 to do effective evidence based advocacy work for ensuring proper realization of existing human rights standards in our respective countries in South Asia.
5 to highlight this case at national/international level and to build pressure on Sri Lankan government to reconsider this decision & redesign the proposed development activities.
6 to do lobby and advocacy work prior to regional council election in Sri Lanka by end of March,
7 to bring the Kalpitiya local communities in to the network of development displaced people and build up strong land coalition with education & awareness raising,
Expected out come of the FFM
• A detailed report of the Kalpitiya People’s destruction and disturbances due to tourism plans of the government,
• A series information of socio, economic, environmental and political issues faced by the communities in 14 islands of Kalpitiya peninsular,
• A set of recommendations to be intervened by Government, CSOs, regional, provincial and national authorities for sustainable development interventions in Kalpitiya area,
• A set of recommendations for the international agencies, financial institutions, and government for better future for the 14 Kalpitiya Islands and tourism plans as a whole.
• An advocacy paper in which people could lobby and advocate with the various agencies with those who approach for tourism development in the area,
• A group of concerned people emerge from local Land Forum and also extend the solidarity up to international level for sustainable development.
Kalpitiya area in general view:
In Kalpitiya, there are some ruins of colonizers of Dutch, Portuguese of the country. Presently, NAVY is occupied the former Dutch Fort at Kalpitiya mainland. Some locations are still labeled as Dutch bay,[Mohoththuwarama] and Portugal bay are name of few. The historical St. Anne’s shrine is located within 15 Km of Kalpitiya area. Ancient Muslim religious monument and also an ancient pier is situated within 10 Km of the area call Kappaladiya. So, the history of the Kalpitiya area goes up to the ancient history of Arab, Portugal and Dutch periods of the history.

Kalpitiya Islands as Fishing Zone:
Kalpitiya peninsular and the islands in north of Kalpitiya are belong to highly sensitive eco systems in North Western Province of the Country. The Bar Reef marine sanctuary, the Sri Lankan 1st Marine Sanctuary is located at the area. There are number of important threaten coral species found at the Bar Reef Marine sanctuary, which will seriously damage with any small environmental damage or disturbances. Some Sea Grass beds, Algal blooms, sandy & muddy bottoms shows the importance of natural resources in the area. Which shows the high importance of the area. Also, just another Km north of Kalpitiya area, it is Gulf of Mannar and the India had declared Gulf of Mannar marine sanctuary with the importance of the eco system. In the eastern side of the Kalpitiya, it is another very important virgin forest which is known as Wilpatthu national park with 200,000 ha of land coverage, which is the largest national park in the country.
Among aquatic fauna, Dolphins are very common and local tourists also come to watch Dolphins at Kandakuliya, Kudawa, and Kalpitiya area. The Kala Oya estuary, which enrich Puttlam lagoon with fresh water is one of very important water body around the area. Kala oya basin is also known as rich Mangrove forest with endemic mangrove flora & fauna in it. It should be noted, that among the other Mangrove forests in Puttlam district, this is the only remaining mangrove eco system which protected from the destruction of Prawn farms due to the war and related issues at the time of war.
There are around 14 islands located at Kalpitiya with 4400 ha of land coverage, [See the attachment 2] and most of them are very sensitive eco systems. Some of them are erode during the monsoon season and again form during the off season. With this rich bio diversity, natural resources give the way for more than 10,000 fisher families for their living through fisheries in the Kalpitiya area.
Number of fishing families, both migrant and permanent dwellers are living in these 14 islands and their main occupation is fishing, fish processing. Kalpitiya is well known for dry fish productions along the country. Some times ago there were stories that the Madel Owners[Beach Seine owners] abduct school children and bring them as child labours to those islands for dry fish production.
Some fishers use small 18 1/2 ‘ FRP boats, Catamaran, or some large scale Beach Seines for their living. There are 50 beach seines from Kandakuliya, just 4 Km below Kalpitiya and up to Uchchimunei which is one of the furthest point from the peninsular. In one Beach Seine, there are 50-60 workers engage in for fishing operations. So, with all the 50 Beach Seines, there are around 2500-3000 Fish workers engage in fishing activities in Kalpitiya. In Karathivu, Palliyawatta, Pookkulama, Vellamankare, Kandakuliya, Vellamanal, Navaladiya, Keerimundal, Uchchimunai villages and the islands in Kalpitiya peninsular. Economically they are not very poor as their income is comparatively satisfactory, but socially and politically they are backward and voiceless in the society. There are 2 fisheries societies, Beach Seine Operators society and FRP boat operators society formed by NAVY. However, the fisheries cooperative societies are not function though they are nominally established for the sake of attraction of government subsidy or any other benefit from the politicians time to time. The real meaning of organically developed fisheries cooperative societies can not be seen in operation.
In some islands such as Baththalangunduwa, Palliyawaththa majority are migratory fisher families. Their fore fathers have come to those islands and settled there generations back. But, they are not considered as permanent settlers there and no political and other social benefits from the area. For any development program, they are excluded and socially down.
The water facilities are one of the worst for them as they are living within the sea and Lagoon. People get the water from small holes in the sand and collect them using the spoons. Women and girl children face serious difficulties to collect water where there is no water facilities provided by the government water schemes. Some islands,[Mohoththuwarama] it is government water schemes are seen as source of water.
When we study the ethnic composition in the area, the majority are Sinhalese and Muslims while Tamils are also living in the area among others. Roman Catholic churches are seen every island and also Mosques could be seen some of the islands. So, it is Catholics, Muslims and Hindus are living in harmony and this is good example of such ethnic and religious harmony in the country. Education facilities for the children is not satisfactory at the islands and need substantial attention to provide them. Some islands it is primary education [Grade 1-5] where as some islands secondary level education facilities are seen[Grade 1-9]. However, there is no tertiary level education facilities for any of the islands and need to come to the Kalpitiya peninsular for that. So, the level of education is very low among many of the fisher families and among women it is still worse.
Government Plans for Tourism Development:
What government has done so far?
 Government Plans for Kalpitiya area are attached as Annex 2
 Sea Planes to Puttlam Lagoon,-Annex 3[See the Link]
 Lease of land and Sea for tourism,[See the Link]
Proposed programs,- Tourism board web site, 5 islands declared for lease out,
Responses from various agencies,-CCD, PS, DS, Navy, Police,
Issues Faced by the Fisher People in Kalpitiya Islands
Land,- See the annex 4
Fisheries,- Beach seines, FRP boats, Catamarans, Fish workers in the beach seines,
See the attached Map No2.- PRA Map prepared with the People at Mohothtuwara, Dutch Bay fishing community on 16 January, 2011.
Access to resources,- close of roads, covered with barbed wires of the coast,
Loss of customary rights,
Unsecure situation,-
Materials to be Prepared:
a. News Paper articles,
b. Web Links related to land grabbing,
. http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2011/01/09/land-grab-in-kalpitiya/
http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2011/01/16/massive-scale-land-and-sea-grabbing-at-kalpitiya-islands/
http://www.lankaenews.com/English/news.php?id=10566
http://www.goproxing.com/browser.php?u=Oi8vd3d3LmxhbmthbmV3c3dlYi5jb20vU2luaGFsYS9uZXdzLzIwMTFfMDFfMDJfMDA3Lmh0bWw%3D&b=13

c. Area maps and related information about the sites,
d. Details related to various authorities,
e. Gazette notification on land lease out at Kalpitiya islands,

Organizational structures at Kalpitiya
Government agencies:
a.Pradesheeya sabha, [Regional Council of Kalpitiya]-Elected body which runs ruling party till it dissolved for the elections. The next election will be on the 17th March 2011.
b.Divisional Secretariat- The most important administrative body situated at the area. Mainly, DS is responsible for enforce all the land related rules and regulations in the area. Sea, land related any development activity DS is responsible agency for the implementation of the government plans.
Religious institutions:
a.Catholic Church, - Religion plays vital role in the area. Predominantly catholic majority and the church has lot of influence in development activities of the people. Church plays vital role in education while working hand in hand with the government.
b.Muslim Pallivasal, - Muslims are the second highest in the peninsular as well as in the islands at Kalpitiya. So, the society of the Mosques play very important role on the development activities.
Community Based Organizations:
1.Fisheries Cooperative societies,
Cooperatives are formed by the government and implement government plans & policies among the fisheries communities. Their main role is to issue loans and collect interest from the communities and to provide any government subsidy schemes through the coops. Due to operational weaknesses of the community leaders, the trust on the cooperatives are minimal among the communities.
2.Organization for Protection of Mohoththuwarama People’s Rights,
This is a recently formed society with the involvement of the Puttlam District Fisheries Solidarity Organization. All the fish workers in the various professions of beach seines, small FRP boat operators and Catamaran owners are working closely to protect the rights of the Mohothtuwarama community. This society has done some preliminary organizational activities among the community and had sent the petitions to President and all other concerned authorities urging protect the people’s rights in the community.
3.Organization of Beach Seine operators in Kalpitiya area,
This is a society solely represent the Beach Seine owners hence no other professions represent in the society. This society had formed with the intervention of the Navy at Kalpitiya and guide some of the work in the society by them.
Media
There is no any media institutions operating in the area. But, some concerned few media personals individually engage the people’s issues and to focus the attention in the national media and so on.

Organizational Matters:
Resource Team: Dr. Mrs. Ujjani Halim, Coordinator-FSNSA & Director, IMSE, India, ,
Ms. Ravadee Prasertcharoensuk- Director, Sustainable Development Foundation, Thailand. ravadee.prasertcharoensuk@gmail.com
Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda, Director, Human Rights Center, Sri Lanka. ,
Ms. Swati Seshadri, Member from Equations, India.
Mr. Rose- Nijera Kori, Bangladesh
Dr. Mrs. Madhabi Roy, India [Rappoteur]


Expected Authorities to meet for FFM [This could be amended with the consultation with the resource team and the Organization teams]
 District Secretary or/ and Additional District Secretary-Puttlam [Confirmed]
 Divisional Secretary-Kalpitiya[Confirmed]
 Coast Conservation Department- Kalpitiya, [Confirmed] Fisheries Inspector- Kalpitiya, District Fisheries Extension Officer-DFEO at Puttlam,[Confirmed]
 Catholic Church Leaders-Kalpitiya,[Confirmed], Chilaw [Not yet confirm-We are in a dialogue to send an email questionnaire for getting views from Bishop of Chilaw.]
 Fisheries Communities at Mohothtuwarama[Dutch Bay],[Confirmed] Illupanthivu, Uchchimunai,[beach Seine owners & workers, FRP small boat fishers, Catamaran fishers,]
 Community members at 3 islands & Kalpitiya mainland, divers for ornament fish collection at Kudawa,
 Fisheries Coops at Kalpitiya, Traders association, Muslim Pallivasal society,
Associated organizations:
Puttlam District Fisheries Solidarity[PDFS]- PDSF is a partner organization of NAFSO which work with fishing communities in Kalpitiya area for more than 15 years. PDFS raise the issue at NAFSO steering committee and also at the PA Steering Committee to take the issue forward and continue to organize people at the grass root level.
NAFSO- Primarily the affected fishers are NAFSO members through its partner organization, Puttlam district fisheries solidarity. So, PDFS will coordinate the work in the ground level for the basic preparatory work. [Annex 5- Introduction of NAFSO]

PA- Praja Abhilasha is a network of organizations which aim is to focus attention on various land issues due to natural and man made causes. Development displacement, Tsunami, War displacement and Human Elephant co-existence issues are the main focus of PA. In Kalpitiya islands, PA engage in development displacement issues among the communities in 14 islands.

Land Forum- Land forum is wider organizational network which focus the land & sea grabbing issues in the present development paradigm in Sri Lanka. NAFSO is a member of the network and will collaborate with them if the network members agreed to do so.
Food Sovereignty Network of Sri Lanka
FSNSL is recently formed among the concerned organizations and individuals on food sovereignty in SL. The group work on voluntary basis to promote the FS and educate the people concern on sustainable agriculture.
IMSE –India – IMSE as a pioneering organization on food sovereignty process in Asia and global level would take part as a part of the resource team as well as steering the international campaign on land & Sea grabbing issues.

Duration: 23-27 February 2011.

Proposed Sites to be visited & Authorities to be met:
Time table:[Proposed]
23rd Feb. – Arrival of Resource Team
Afternoon -Briefing session with the organizers
Night Stay at Negombo [Ocean View Guest House/ Silvas Hotel-Sea Street, Negombo]
24th Feb.-
Morning- Meet ADS-Puttlam & DFEO-Puttlam
Afternoon-

Night stay at Kalpitiya

25th Feb.
Morning - Meet local authorities- DS-Kalpitiya, CCD-Kalpitiya, FI-Kalpitiya, NAVY officers
Afternoon- Meet Parish Priest-Kalpitiya, Muslim Pallivasal Society, Traders Association,
Night stay at Kalpitiya
26th Feb.
Morning – Leave for Kalpitiya Islands- Illuppanthivu, Uchchimunai islands,
Meeting with Mohothtuwarama community at 3.00pm,
Night stay at Negombo
27th Feb.
Morning- Debriefing session with NAFSO, FSNSL, PA, Land Forum group at NAFSO, Negombo
Discussion on Future Plans, Collaborative activities with related agencies, Possible International campaign,
Afternoon- Media Briefing,[Press Release]

Coordination of the FFM :
Ms. Geetha Lakmini, NAFSO –Sri Lanka[+94 77 318 45 24] &
Dr. Ujjani Halim, FSNSA-India.
Mr. Francis Raajan, Coordinator, Praja Abhilasha Network[+94-77 922 72 60]
Financial Assistance : Food Sovereignty Network of South Asia.
Praja Abhilasha Network, Sri Lanka
NAFSO, Sri Lanka.

Main Activities

01. Conducting Research.
02. Pressurizing for land rights.
03. Mobilizing the landless people.
04. File court cases regarding land issues.
05. Networking the affected communities.
06. Providing Trainings for leaders.
07. Conduct workshops.
 
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