Written by Staff Writer
06 Apr, 2016 | 10:13 pm
Allegations have been raised that the Ceylon Electricity Board had acquired lands for the construction of the power plant, without informing original land owners of the acquisition.
A News 1st team visited the area on Wednesday, in which the Sampur coal-powered power plant will be constructed. Twenty five (25%) percent of the land required for the project have been identified as “abandoned paddy lands” while the other 75% are fertile lands, boasting of forests and bush areas.
However, residents in the area told us of a completely different story, News1st met an individual today who had fled the area in 1996 during the height of the conflict in the area. He explained that about 40 families lived in the area and once they all fled the area ,it had been classified as a High Security Zone.
Upon the conclusion of the war these families returned to their lands once again, only to find out that their lands had been acquired by the CEB for the proposed Sampur Project.
Upon his return to the area, after the conclusion of the war, rather than taking ownership of his land, what he experienced was that the CEB had taken over the land, depicted on this sign board. (Please see video).
Many of the former residents of the area, which has now been classified as part of the Sampur project, had been relocated in the Shithanavali area, about one kilometres away from Sampur. They had been given 20 perches of land each with the promised that they would be allowed to return to their original lands, eventually.
Even though lands and houses were provided for relocation, these residents claim that they cannot live in the provided lands as they don’t have water and because they cannot engage in farming activities. One individual told News1st that he was the proud owner of a fertile plot of land which spanned nearly three acres. Bute has now been forced to live in a 20-perch area.
We inquired into these claims from the Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy Suren Batagoda. He noted that the ministry acquired 500 acres of land for the Sampur project through a gazette. He also stated that when the lands were being taken over, there were no tenants on these lands.
However, the Secretary to the Ministry also noted that the CEB and relevant organisations are looking into claims that the public are against the proposed project and noted that steps will be taken once all claims are investigated.
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