Illegal occupants to be evicted from Polonnaruwa - Batticaloa railway lands | Sunday Observer

Illegal occupants to be evicted from Polonnaruwa - Batticaloa railway lands

3 September, 2023

Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena has instructed state officials, including the District Secretary, to immediately evict unauthorised people occupying railway land between the Polonnaruwa and Batticaloa stretch.

The Minister gave these instructions at the Batticaloa District Development Coordinating Committee meeting at the Batticaloa District Secretariat under the patronage of State Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan on Thursday, August 31.

The Minister said that no person can occupy railway lands or erect buildings under the strict regulations of the Railway Ordinance Act.

The Minister said that land belonging to the Railway can only be given out on temporary lease based on a five-year agreement under the powers of the Railways General Manager.

The Minister said the Railway Department has full powers to demolish any unauthorised buildings on railway lands.

Dr. Gunawardena said he does not like measures such as bulldozing. It is the duty of the District Secretary, Government officials, police and the security forces to prevent the rapid seizure of railway lands along the stretch between Polonnaruwa and Mannar.

He said he will present a Cabinet paper soon to introduce a new system of leasing railway land legitimately. The Minister has instructed the General Manager of Railways not to lease railway lands until the new system is implemented.

The Minister said the underutilised railway lands and other assets must be managed efficiently under a new system to turn the loss-making Railway Department into a profit-making entity.

Minister Gunawardena said there is an opportunity to submit a proposal to start a productive project with the private sector in any area, including Colombo, Batticaloa, Anuradhapura, Badulla, and Ella. The Minister said that if local and foreign investors submit practical proposals, he can submit them for Cabinet approval and these projects can be launched after proper evaluation. He requested Eastern Province Governor Senthil Thondaman to play a vital role in this regard.

Eastern Province Governor Senthil Thondaman, Coordinating Committee Chairman Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, State Ministers S. Viyalanderan and Siripala Gamlath, MP Govindan Karunakaran and many public representatives were present.