General Questions

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.