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Right to Information Act No. 12 of 2016






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What is land settlement?

The process of deciding which lands are of state and which lands are private, out of all lands within the territory of Sri Lanka and transferring private lands to respective heirs, issuing plans of such lands to them and transferring stated lands to the state is called the Land Settlement.

Why is the Land Settlement Necessary for Sri Lanka?

The land settlement has become necessary for Sri Lanka on the basis of a historical background. Until 1815 for some thousands of years Sri Lankans used lands but the owner of lands was the king and the king did not transfer the ownership of lands to the people . Then in 1815 Sri Lanka became a colony of the British Empire and the previous system of King’s rule became null and void. The British declared the Prevention of Encroachments upon Crown Lands Ordinance No. 12 of 1840. This ordinance declared all lands crown lands if people could not prove their ownership to such lands, Their ownership to lands they were using from generation to generation was not considered. For proving ownership of lands the British expected the public to produce deeds, grants and such other documentary evidence. Under these circumstance Sri Lankan had to forgo their ownership to thousands of acres of their lands under the Encroachment Ordinance of 1840. This situation made Sri Lankans unhappy and the aggrieved Sri Lankans protested against the said ordinance and finally this situation compelled the people to launch the great Kandyan rebellion of 1848. Hence the British government had to initiate action to decide which lands were crown lands and which lands were private lands. This process of action Commenced with the enactment of the Waste Lands Ordinance No 1 of 1897 - an ordinance relating to claiming forest, chena , waste and uncultivated lands.

Historical Evolution of Land Settlement Work

The Department of Land Settlement was started in the year 1903. The Colonial rulers enacted the Crown Lands (encroachments) Ordinance No.12 of 1840 and implemented in the low country areas of the island . In terms of this ordinance all lands, ownership of which could not be proved were decided to be state lands. Thereafter the Waste Lands Ordinance No.1 of 1897 was enacted and all uncultivated lands were declared as state lands under this law. Implementation of this law was entrusted to the Government Agents and in the year 1903 the Land Settlement Department was started for this work. In the passage of time the above ordinances were not adequate to settle the problems relating to lands and therefore the Land Settlement Ordinance No. 20 of 1931 was enacted and implemented. The granting of title to land to members of the public was started for the first time with the implementation of this law.

Laws Relating to the Land settlement  Work

  • Crown Lands (Encroachments) Ordinance No. 12 of 1840
  • Waste Lands Ordinance No. 1 of 1897
  • The Land Settlement Ordinance No. 20 of 1931
  • Registration of Documents Act.

Procedure of Land Settlement

  • Preliminary Land Investigations
  • On receipt of the preliminary plan from the Surveyor General, inspection of blocks of Land and identification of lands owned by inheritance and lands, settlement of which is due.
  • Publication of the notice of settlement and giving it publicity.
  • Registration of inherited lands and holding settlement inquiries.
  • Forwarding particulars to the Department of Surveys when surveying and partitioning of Land is required.
  • Application for diagrams on receipt of particulars of surveys and partitioning.
  • Preparation of Settlement Order and registration of lands settled in favour of private persons in the Land Registry.
  • Obtaining the Hon. Minister’s approval for settlement
  • Publication of the Settlement Order in the gaqette and distribution of plans and the gazette notice.
  • Release of village.

Organizations which assist the Land Settlement Department in the Land settlement work.

  • Department of Surveys
  • Offices of the Govt. Agents
  • Divisional Secretariats
  • All District Courts and Fiscal Offices
  • Department of Govt. Press.

Benefits From Land Settlement

  • A lawful title for lands used without lawful title.
  • Establishment of ownership of state lands
  • Establishment of traditional ownership.

Special information you should know about lands

  • Registration of any land in the first instance should be made on a Govt. document.
  • Particulars of prior registration should be essentially included in the documents connected with land transactions.
  • Registration made again and again should be connected with the original registration.
  • Any document related to lands should include specific boundaries of the respective land.
  • Area of a land should be established by a Surveyor’s plan.

Information you can obtain from Us

  • Particulars of village where land Settlement has been completed.
  • Particulars of inherited lands which were not considered for Settlement in the villages where land settlement was completed under the Waste Lands Ordinance and the Land Settlement Ordinance.
  • Particulars of lands settled as private lands under the Land Settlement Ordinance and particulars of persons in respect of whom such settlement was made.
  • Particulars of gazettes in which Land Settlement Orders were published.
  • Land Settlement Ordinance.