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  • » 01/19/2012, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    Kalpitiya: Muslim woman defeats mega tourism project over land expropriation

    Melani Manel Perera

    A court has recognized the right of ownership Saleema of family land, where a local entrepreneur was building luxury resorts. Her legal battle cost her 300 thousand rupees (2 thousand euros). She will be compensated with 5 million rupees. Local activists: "Her example gives strength and courage to those who risk losing their land."
    Kalpitiya (AsiaNews) - After seven months of hearings and 300 thousand rupees (about 2 thousand euros) spent on lawyers, a Muslim woman from Kalpitiya (North Western Province) has won her battle against a local businessman of luxury resorts. A court has in fact recognized Seinulabdheen Saleema, a married mother of two children, the right of ownership of two plots of land of coconut trees, on which Neil Silva had begun construction of 80 villas for his company Dutch Bay Resorts.

    For more than a year fishermen and inhabitants of the islands of Kalpitiya have been protesting against the mega tourism project involving the local beaches. To kick-start the country's economy, the government has in fact initiated a series of programs to promote luxury tourism, however, that risk of damaging the ecosystem and the survival of local communities.

    "Seven months ago - Saleema tells AsiaNews - I noticed that the workers of Neil de Silva had invaded my property, they were building a huge hotel. I explained to them that those lands belong to me, but de Silva told me that he bought the area from another person. So, he would not let me enter that area. "

    Saleema’s is not an isolated case. Government and private investors invade land belonging to other people. They fence them, put them for sale or rent and then prevent the real owners from entering.

    Saleema did not lose heart: "I have owned that land for 30 years: 12 acres are mine, inherited from my grandmother; 14 acres by my mother, she left me to manage them. I took the ownership documents and went to court, determined to take back what was mine. After 14 hearings (two months), the court ordered Neil de Silva to stop work. " Since the building had been completed, she explains, "I asked for a compensation of 5 million rupees (about 34 thousand euros) from the entrepreneur." The man agreed to the request and said he will pay "the value of the property."

    In these seven months, local media and the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (nafs) have defended the woman. "I have to thank them - she says - for encouraging me not to lose hope and guiding me in this battle." Saleema's husband said he was "proud" to have such a courageous wife.

    "In Kalpitiya - Herman Kumara president of Praja Abhilsha Network and convener of the People's Alliance for Right to Land told AsiaNews, - there are hundreds of people like Saleema who have lost their land. This victory gives courage and strength to those people who want to fight against the major investors. "

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    See also

    08/09/2011 SRI LANKA
    Fishermen: Colombo’s new development projects must protect, not destroy
    The Sri Lankan government has rented the most beautiful and pristine natural areas for the next 99 years to build hotels, resorts, golf courses, facilities for seaplanes and aero-taxis. Mobilization of Catholics, religious and civil society against the expropriation of lands.

    31/05/2010 INDIA
    Orissa: unacceptable police violence against demonstrators defending their land
    On 15 May, police attacked peaceful villagers protesting against the expropriation of their land. A fact-finding team saw evidence of violence, calling for formal charges to be laid against police and an end to the expropriation.

    25/02/2015 SRI LANKA
    Sri Lanka, the government returns Paanama village to its inhabitants
    The land had been expropriated by the previous administration for tourist purposes. For years, the local population had launched a campaign to regain their property. Local leader: "Despite threats and abuse, we have had the courage to go on."

    11/11/2010 CHINA
    Local authorities must stop forced expropriation of rural land
    Stark warning from Beijing, but experts point out that such calls often do not work. The cultivated land is barely enough for domestic self-sufficiency. Analysts : to obtain social justice, they must listen to the protests of the people. Han Dongfang tells an "exemplary" story.

    30/04/2007 INDIA
    Bengal communists at war with the farmers
    Guns and home-made bombs were used during clashes in Nandigram between Communist Party activists and farmers. Dozens wounded and at least one person was left dead, while the police failed to intervene. The communist government convokes party members, while the opposition asks the central government to intervene. .



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