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Indian Special Envoy should be neutral: TNA

[Express Buzz, Friday, 23 July 2010 08:55 No Comment]

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) wants the Indian Special Envoy to Sri Lanka to be a neutral political personality, who would be able to give the Indian Prime Minister and the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, correct advice on matters relating to refugee rehabilitation and a political settlement of the Tamil question here.

Suresh Premachandran, TNA MP for Jaffna district told Express that both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi would “benefit” by the advice of an envoy of this kind.

Absence of clarity

However, Premachandran felt that there was a lack of clarity in India on the issue.  The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister was not clear about the expectations from a Special Envoy or even what kind of person he should be, the MP said.Moreover, there was no authentic word from New Delhi about the Prime Minister’s accepting Karunanidhi’s suggestion to appoint a Special Envoy. The TNA has only DMK leader T.R.Baalu’s word on it.

Enquiries here reveal that New Delhi has not conveyed anything to the Indian High Commission in Colombo in this matter.

Clash with official team

The TNA Premachandran wondered if the announcement of a Special Envoy would clash with the work of the Indian official team going into issues relating to Indian assistance to Sri Lanka in the field of refugee rehabilitation and resettlement, especially the building of 50,000 houses for them.

A high level team of Indian officials had recently visited the island in connection with the housing project ,but it is not known if there will be another visit soon. At any rate, there is a lot of spade work to be done at the Sri Lankan end. District Government Agents (Gas) would have to enumerate the potential beneficiaries, assess the damage to houses, and suggest the quantum of assistance.That process has apparently not begun yet.

Lack of commitment

However, at its meetings with Indian leaders in New Delhi and Chennai, the TNA stressed the need for an Indian initiative on rehabilitation and resettlement on the plea that the Sri Lankan government had not shown sufficient interest in these matters.

“You can very well see the Lankan government’s low level of interest in IDP resettlement when you look at the budget allocations this year. While SLRs.202 billion (US$ 1.8 bn) is allocated for defence, only SLRs.2 billion (US$ 17 million) is given for IDP rehabilitation,” Premachandran said.

Impaired earning capacity

The Tamil MP pointed out that Lankan government was paying little or no attention to providing livelihood to the resettled people.

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