Colombo, June 28 (): Sri Lanka conducted its first-ever national census in 30 years, between February-March of this year. The preliminary census report released on Wednesday shows a massive 20 per cent decline in the population of Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna peninsula which was a stronghold of former LTTE forces.
Ethnic Tamils form the majority of the population of the Jaffna district; their numbers have declined to 583,017 from 734,474.
Mullaitheevu in the northern Sri Lanka where the LTTE had its largest military base now turns out to be the district having the lowest population, with about 92,228 people followed by Mannar, the next in line with the second lowest population of 99,063.
Nevertheless, the census report shows an increase of 1.0 per cent in the nation’s population from 1981 to 2012 with the total reaching 20.277 million from 14.846 million.
While only a minority of the total population of about 5.2 per cent live in the northern part, a major chunk of 28.8 per cent of the population live in the western province.
Colombo and Gampaha in the western province are the only two districts out of 25 districts in the island nation that show about a population of over 2 million.
Suresh Premachandran, a Tamil legislator in the national parliament attributed the dwindling ethnic Tamil population to the mass evacuation that happened during the ethnic conflict between the government and Tamil rebels from 1972 to 2011 that claimed about 100,000 lives. He further added that 80 percent of the people out of one million Tamils who fled the country during the war, are living abroad.
To add to the woes, the dwindling Tamil population in the northern Sri Lanka have to face yet another crisis –many of them cannot make use of the basic services like banking or they become suspects with the Sri Lankan Police as their National Identity Cards (NIC) have either been lost or damaged during the decades’-old war in the country. Introduced in the year 1972, NIC is a legal and mandatory document required for citizens aged over 16 years.