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Sri Lankan state sponsored colonisation schemes refers to government backed establishment of Sinhalese communities in regions traditionally considered to be Sri Lankan Tamil lands in the northern or eastern parts of the Sri Lanka. It has been perhaps the most immediate cause of inter-communal violence.[1]



Shortly after independence, the Sinhalese dominated government of Ceylon started a programme to settle peasants in the jungles of Trincomalee District. The forests were cleared and water tanks restored. As a consequence of these schemes the Sinhalese population of Trincomalee District rose from 11,606 (15%) in 1946 to 85,503 (33%) in 1981.[2] In the 1980s the government extended the colonisation schemes into the Dry Zone area of the Northern Province, drawing up plans to settle up to 30,000 Sinhalese in traditionally Tamil land.[1]


The first colonisation scheme was at Kanthalai Kulam (Kantale) tank where peasants from outside Trincomalee District were settled in the traditional Tamil village of Kanthalai, 39km south-west of Trincomalee town.[3][4] 77% of settlers were Sinhalese and the rest were Tamils/Muslims.[5]

A colonisation scheme was at Alai Kulam tank, 25km south of Trincomalee town.[3][6] 65% of settlers were Sinhalese and the rest were Muslims.[5]

The colonisation scheme was extended to Tamil speaking areas of Anuradhapura District. A scheme was started at Pathavik Kulam (Padaviya) tank, 65km north-east of Anuradhapura town.[3] Parts of the scheme lay in Trincomalee District and as such were annexed to the Sinhalese dominated Anuradhapura District.[7] Land Development Department employees from this scheme took part in the 1958 anti-Tamil riots.[3][5]


In the 1961 a colonisation scheme was started at Muthali Kulam (Morawewa) tank, 24km west of Trincomalee town.[3][8]


In the 1980s, funded by aid received from the European Community, a colonisation scheme was started at Periya Vilankulam (Mahadiulwewa) tank, 30km north-west of Trincomalee town.[3]

The colonisation scheme was extended into the Northern province with the introduction of the Manal Aru (Weli Oya) scheme, which covered the districts of Mullaitivu, Trincomalee, Vavuniya and Anuradhapura.[9] Sinhalese were settled in traditionally Tamil land, given land, money to build homes and security provided by the Special Task Force.[1][10] Although the scheme covered four districts, administration was handled from the Sinhalese dominated Anuradhapura district.[9] The scheme aroused much anger amongst the Tamils.[11] This anger boiled over into violence when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam attacked the Kent and Dollar Farm settlement at Weli Oya, killing 62.[11]


When the Indian Peace Keeping Forces were withdrawn in 1990, Tamils homes in the suburbs of Trincomalee were occupied by Sinhalese settlers according to pro-rebel Tamilnet.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Tamil Alienation". Country Studies Series: Sri Lanka. Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. October 1988. Retrieved 4 October 2009.  
  2. ^ "Demographic Changes in the Tamil Homeland in the Island of Sri Lanka Over the Last Century". LTTE Peace Secretariat. April 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2009.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f "COLONISATION & DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES IN THE TRINCOMALEE DISTRICT AND ITS EFFECTS ON THE TAMIL SPEAKING PEOPLE". Report 11, Apendix II. University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna). 15 April 1993. Retrieved 4 October 2009.  
  4. ^ ""ISGA needed as confidence building measure for final solution" - Sampanthan". TamilNet. 9 May 2004. Retrieved 4 October 2009.  
  5. ^ a b c V. Thangavelu (3 June 2005). "Part 3: Buddha’s statues symbol of Sinhalese Hegemony!". Tamil Canadian. Retrieved 4 October 2009.  
  6. ^ "LTTE opposes land ministry mobile service in Kantalai". TamilNet. 20 December 2003. Retrieved 4 October 2009.  
  7. ^ Rajavarothiam Sampanthan (1984). "Genocide in Sri Lanka". Tamil United Liberation Front. Retrieved 4 October 2009.  
  8. ^ "SLAF occupation adds to Muthalikulam farmers' woes". TamilNet. 8 December 2002. Retrieved 4 October 2009.  
  9. ^ a b T. Sabaratnam. "Chapter 23: Manal Aru becomes Weli Oya". Pirapaharan. Ilankai Tamil Sangam. Retrieved 4 October 2009.  
  10. ^ The war - one year on
  11. ^ a b T. Sabaratnam. "Chapter 40: Operation Green Arrow". Pirapaharan. Ilankai Tamil Sangam. Retrieved 4 October 2009.  
  12. ^ "Protests at Illegal Settlement". TamilNet. 9 July 1998. Retrieved 4 October 2009.  

Further reading

  • Markus Mayer, Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake, Yuvi Thangarajah, Universität Heidelberg. Südasien-Institut (2003). Building local capacities for peace: rethinking conflict and development in Sri Lanka. Macmillan India. ISBN 0333939212.  


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