Risking legal action, Hakeem wants to transfer lands to Hizbulla’s colony in Batticaloa

Rauff Hakeem, the SL cabinet minister of ‘Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage’ is trying to illegally allocate 35 acres of public lands to put up a Muslim colony being schemed by M.L.A.M. Hizbulla, an appointed UPFA parliamentarian and State Minister of ‘Resettlement and Rehabilitation’ at a traditional Tamil area in Batticaloa district. The controversial move is taking place at Kalladi, 7 km southeast of Batticaloa city. The lands initially taken over from Tamil people back in 1963 for the purpose of expanding water supply and irrigation from Unnichchai tank to other areas, civil sources in Batticaloa said. The SL ministers are engaged in hostile activities setting Batticaloa Tamils against Tamil-speaking Muslims from Kaaththaan-kudi, the sources further said.

Prior to the move, Mr Hakeem was seeking a list of unutilized ‘State lands’ from the Divisional Secretary of Ma'n-munaip-pattu North.

After checking the status of public lands in the division, the divisional secretary responded with the message that there were no public lands left to alienate for other purposes in the administrative division.

After failing to secure lands through the divisional secretary, Mr Hakeem, who is the SL Minister for Water Supply is now using his ministerial position to alienate the lands under his ministry to a different purpose than what was originally intended, civil sources said.

250 acres of lands were appropriated at Kalladi for the purpose of expanding water-supply in 1963. 850 families were to benefit from the first phase of the water supply scheme. The scheme is also supposed to be expanded in future to supply water to 224,000 beneficiaries starting from Vanthaa'ru-mooalai in Ea'raavoor-pattu (Chengkaladi) to Aaraip-pattai (Aaraiyampathi) in Ma'nmunaip-paatu before 2025.

The SL Land Acquisition Act facilitates compulsory acquisition of lands for “public purpose”. This is widely misused by the Colombo regime and its occupying Sinhala military to seize lands in the country of Eezham Tamils.

Legal sources in Batticaloa were citing the case of Sugathapala Mendis vs Chandrika Kumaratunga (352/2007) and vowed to confront former ‘Justice’ Minister and the incumbent Water Supply Minister Rauff Hakeem, who is exploiting the power vested with him for a different purpose.

The ownership of the private and public lands, which were acquired under the clause of public purpose (or ‘development’ purpose), cannot be easily alienated to any private parties. The SL Supreme Court case was popularly known as the Water’s Edge case. It was filed against former SL President Chandrika Kumaratunga by Sugathapala Mendis. The case was won by the petitioner on the basis of SL President's actions in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine.

Ms Kumaratunga, despite having SL cabinet approvals for almost all the decisions and transactions, was found guilty and was ordered to pay 3 million rupees as compensation to the State. The SL Supreme Court also declared the transfer of title and lease of the lands to Asia Pacific Golf Course Ltd., null and void.

Apart from the question that the SL Justice system is prejudiced against the Eezham Tamils or not, Mr Hakeem has just made a move risking a legal challenge against him in the future, commented Tamil activists in Batticaloa.
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