By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
The TNA says the military is to set up a base in the Menik Farm land that formerly housed IDPs from the North.
TNA parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran said the authorities had demolished all the temporary shelters in Menik Farm and had cleared the land while the military has requested to use the land to set up a military base.
“The army is now trying to set up a camp in the Menik Farm land,” he said.
According to Premachandran, there’s already a heavy military presence in the Northern Province and the government is trying to further increase the number of military personnel in the province.
Settikulam Divisional Secretary M. Kamaladasan said the Army had set up an infantry training camp in Zone 2 of Menik Farm about six months ago. He said the training base was situated in a land extent of about 250 acres.
However, Kamaladasan noted that he was unaware whether the military had any plans of expanding the base in Zone 2 to other areas within the land.
He explained that the Menik Farm camp covered a land extent of about 6,200 acres that was initially under the Forest Department.
“The Forest Department allocated the land to the Divisional Secretariat for a period of five years in order to facilitate the IDPs from the North,” he said, adding that the Menik Farm camp was set up after clearing a forestland.
Nevertheless, following the completion of the resettlement of IDPs who were in Menik Farm, the Lands Commissioner had requested the Settikulam Divisional Secretary for a report on the land.
“The Land Commissioner requested for a report on the land, but had not specified by sending a map. It is a large extent of land and we need specifics. I have written requesting for a land map to send the report,” Kamaladasan said.
The Lands Commissioner had however not responded to the Settikulam Divisional Secretary with a map of the land. Military Spokesperson Brigadier G. V. Ravipriya however said the army has not made any request to set up a military camp in the Menik Farm camp.
When contacted, Head of the Media Center for National Security (MCNS), Lakshman Hulugalle said he had not heard of any request made by the military to take over the Menik Farm land.