Gerald Peiris, … an essay that is part of Chapter 11 in a forthcoming monograph titled Sri Lanka: Land Policy for Sustainable Development, by G. H. Peiris, currently in the press (as a Visidunu Publication, 471 Lake Road, Boralesgamuwa, Sri Lanka) 
In view of the significance accorded in recent public debate and discussion on the subject of ‘land grabbing’ in several conflict-ridden countries of the Third World it is necessary to devote attention to a series of facts that are of crucial relevance to a balanced understanding of the related situation in Sri Lanka.
Land Grabbing: Concept and Empirical Application
The phenomenon referred to as ‘land grabbing’ lacks definitional clarity. In many writings of recent times (Keely, 2009; Borras, et.al., 2011; Deininger & Byerlee 2011; Rulli, et. al., 2013; Brimayer & Moon, 2014; to name only a few), especially those sponsored by civil society organisations, this phrase has been used exclusively in the specific connotation of large-scale acquisition of land in the poorer countries by foreign governments and private firms that are based in the politically and economically powerful countries. Estimates of the extent of grabbed land worldwide vary. The prestigious journal, The Economist (21 May 2009) placed it at 15-20 million ha. According to the World Bank, it is as high as 45 million ha, with an overwhelmingly large proportion of it in the less densely populated areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central America and Southeast Asia. In a major World Bank sponsored study (Deininger & Byerlee, op. cit.) ‘land grabbing’ has been portrayed as a phenomenon of both positive as well as negative impacts which nevertheless requires effective regulation. But more generally, this process is perceived as an exemplification of neo-colonial economic exploitation that has adverse consequences on the local people in the form of violation of fundamental rights, incitement of inter-group conflict, mass impoverishment and environmental degradation. What should be noted here is that in none of the research writings on the subject of ‘land grabbing’ as a global phenomenon do we come across a specific reference to Sri Lanka as a country that has been seriously affected by this phenomenon. Continue reading