People would take me to task for my opinion here, but it is one which should be evaluated so that some action can be taken to minimize the travesty caused by this.
As historians know large tracts of vacant lands were given to people who were settled from all parts of the island. I happen to live in a tract that was granted to a family in the 1930’s as one of the first such schemes in Minneriya by DS Senanayaka who was then a Minister of Agriculture under the British Administration. This was after the Minneriya tank was restored and canals cut to bring water to the villages. The houses built for the villagers were solid structures, which still stand and lived in and is testimony to their construction.
The people were given large tracts 5 acres of fields (mada idam) and 5 acres of other land (goda idam) and in addition homes in a nearby location, which formed the nucleus of a new village.
I don’t want to go into the reasoning why landless peasants were given land, but as far as I know from talking to the descendants they were certainly not landless from whence they came, some still have property in their gama and to this date treat the place from whence they came as their gama. The CP de Silva’s Senananayaka’s and Kotelawala’s being walau karayo did not realize how they had been had by the sly and cunning people into giving them land.
What has happened through the ages is that all this land has been subdivided into tiny homesteads and are no longer cultivated as a whole. Even some of the paddy lands have been filled in and some descendants live on them some in picturesque homes surrounded by paddy fields on all sides.
No matter what one tells me I will not accept that this is now agricultural land anymore. It is residential ranchettes to put no finer tone on them and most people living in them have government jobs, and other means of support, and may have a few fields to grow the rice so that they can eat three full meals of rice a day.
The remaining truly peasant farmers are those who believed the government and due to the government not keeping its word have become destitute. So what we have now are suburbs out of previously good agricultural land