Railway lands to be leased for cultivation

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The Cabinet of Ministers has approved the provision of railway reserve lands for cultivation on temporary basis.

These lands will be used for agricultural practices and use on lease basis for a period of one year, prioritising the cultivators already engaged in cultivation in the relevant areas, residents near railway tracks and low-income earners.

The proposal was presented by the Minister of Highways.

The total extent of the reserved lands belonging to the Department of Sri Lanka Railways is approximately 14,000 acres and around 10 per cent out of this has been leased for various purposes. It has been identified that it is appropriate to temporarily lease out reserved lands located along the railway lines and railway stations, which are suitable for cultivation and not immediately required for the development activities of the Department of Railways for cultivation.

Speaking at yesterday’s weekly Cabinet briefing, Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena said some of the land is forcibly occupied while the rest is unused.

Crops such as cow pea, green gram, and vegetables could be grown on land designated during British colonial times, co-Cabinet spokesman Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.

Gunawardena noted that the crops that will be planted do not require much water and that the farmers on both sides of the railway tracks will be involved in farming activities.

By Thameenah Razeek