In Ragamwela and Shastrawela (Eastern Province) the Sri Lanka Navy and the Special Task Force confiscated 1,220 acres of forestland, wetlands and agricultural lands. 265 acres of this total is from Ragamwela (Panama) while 115 acres of land and 840 acres of forestland under the control of Department of Forest Conservation are from Shastrawela. In the area it has been proposed to establish a Ranawiru Village, a Navy Camp and a Hotel Complex. The forestland appropriated is situated in the Ragamwela Government Forest, Ulpassa, Shasthrawela while the rest of the land are croplands belonging to local residents.  Following the statement by local communities the lands grab began on 17 July 2010, when 150 families from the villages of Ragamwela and Shastrawela were violently chased from their homes by armed men. They attacked the villages, burned the houses and threatened the villagers to dissuade them from returning. Immediately afterwards, Army units erected fences around nearly 500 hectares of farm land and forest, preventing the villagers from having access and cultivating the land.  Entrance to the land appropriated has been restricted except for the officers of the Navy and Special Task Force.
The confiscated land is also rich of ancient buddhist temples and archeological artifacts. Temple Balumkararama, built by residents of Ragamwela, is located in the same area and the entrance to the temple has been prohibited.
The lands have been acquired without revealing the type of project that will be implemented in the area. According to the Army, the goal of this acquisition is to establish a military base. But the local populations have noticed that infrastructures, most likely for tourism, are being constructed on their lands.
Most of the residents are engaged in agricultural activities as their means of livelihood. The confiscation affected their normal lifestyle and today the victims are condemned to search for jobs outside of their villages. Any work proposed on the current construction sites is temporary.
Several laws has been violated for the implementation of the project. According to the Coast Conservation and Coastal Resources Management Act No. 57 of 1981, prior written approval should be obtained from the Department of Coast Conservation for any developmental activity. However, this regulation has been ignored by the defense forces.
In addition, by unauthorized clearing and fragmentation of the forest and building of permanent structures, section 20 of the Forest Conservation Ordinance as amended last by Amendment Act bearing No. 65 of 2009 has been violated.
Moreover The National Environmental Act No. 47 of 1980 previse for any developmental activity carried out within an area over one hectare of forestland prior written approval should be obtained subject to an EIA. This provision has been violated by the project. The project also violates the Archeological Ordinance bearing No. 49 of 1940. Lands of the residents of the area have been acquired for the project through coercion. Moreover, basic rights of engaging in religious activities and livelihood activities of the community have been violated.
From the first incidents in 2010, villagers have filed complaints many times with local police and with the National Human Right Commission, but in vain. On the contrary, they were threatened or harassed, verbally and physically.
In 2014 villagers organized as the Panama-Paththuwa Surekeeme Sangvidhanaya (Organization for the Protection of Panama-Paththuwa) protested in front of the National Human Rights Commission in Colombo . This Commission ruled in their favor in their fight against having the Sri Lankan Army confiscate their land, but in fact, nothing has changed and, according to reports from locals, a tourist complex is under construction.
The protesters also continue to oppose the World Bank (WB) – Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) joint commissioning of the ‘Arugam Bay Special Tourism Promotion Zone’ in their area. This project in fact is linked to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Strategy, set up by the government in Colombo, with the financial support of the World Bank. Since the tsunami of 2004 and the end of the Civil War in 2009, the government has bet on tourism to support economic growth. But these tourist investments come with numerous cases of lands and coasts grabs, depriving thousands of families of their livelihood.
The same problems are also taking place on the Kalpitiya peninsula (West coast), where foreign tourist companies, like the Six Senses Group, Dutch Bay Resorts or Kuwait European Holding, have begun construction on lands and beaches confiscated from more than 2,500 families, mainly fishermen.