he Present government is continuing the practice of leasing state owned lands on long or short term basis to multinational companies, private firms and individuals for mega agricultural and technical ventures.
The new administration continues its support given to Dole Lanka Private Limited, which has illegally cleared protected forests, which acted as catchment areas and destroyed farm lands owned by small holders, environmentalists said.
The Department of Forest Conservation has obtained court orders to remove farm lands operated by Dole Lanka Private Limited, scattered in various lands owned by the department in the Sri Lankan dry zone.
However the government has halted the implementation of these court orders and handed over the land to the controversial company, they complained.
The government owns approximately 80 percent of the land in Sri Lanka, including the land housing most tea, rubber, and coconut plantations, which are leased out, typically on 50-year terms.
Private land ownership is limited to fifty acres per person. Although state land for industrial use is usually allotted on a 50-year lease, the government may approve 99-year leases on a case-by-case basis depending on the project.
Many land title records were lost or destroyed during the civil war, and significant disputes remain over land ownership, particularly in the North and East.
The government has started a program to return property taken by the during the war to residents in the North and East.
Sri Lanka is to develop a more dynamic land market that is supported by policy reforms, that offers individuals clear, transferable titles. Measures are being taken to strengthen digital systems of land information and registration, such as the E-State Land Information Management System and the E-Land Registry that are already in use.
With better land information systems, Sri Lankan governments will have an improved fix on the size of all of the state land, all those lands vested in the various ministries and departments, as well as a clear picture of the value of those lands through improved appraisal methods.
Additionally, Sri Lankan citizens will be able to convert their deeds and titles into digital form, protecting their paperwork from damage, loss, and theft. Transparency and accountability are good for business and good for individuals, officials said.