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IDPs call for concrete action

[Sunday Times.lk, Sunday, 8 August 2010 08:05 No Comment]

Give us our old address, say Kilinochchi civilians as concern grows over delays in resettlement

By Chris Kamalendran

Thirteen months after the end of the war, displaced civilians have had the privilege of returning to their villages but they still lack the ability to put up their own homes or at least renovate their damaged houses.

Most of them are living in temporary homes, in makeshift camps or in government buildings in the Kilinochchchi district from where more than 162,000 people were displaced. Latest statistics compiled by the District Secretariat of Kilinochchi reveals that 94,644 have returned to their villages.

Trade hope: A woman sells peanuts in Murikandi

Each family receives Rs 50,000 in two instalments to rebuild homes, but the villagers claim the money is not enough to construct new houses. They also do not earn enough to meet the high cost of building materials.“The villagers are complaining that they are unable to resume their normal lives by engaging in their usual vocations such as farming,” TNA MP Suresh Premachandran, who visited the area, told the Sunday Times.

“Some of them have been taken there as many as six months ago. But they have not been settled in their own homes yet,” he said. He claimed that part of the lands had been acquired by the state for various projects and civilians had been told that they would receive alternative places. This has, however, denied them the chance to rebuild their lives.

“Though the government has assured that they will expedite the process, they have not shown any interest in resettling them back at their homes,” he said. Mr. Premachandran claimed that lands had been given to businessman to set up hotels and other projects in the Murikandi area. He said the displaced peopled had not been able to engage in farming, though they had been ‘resettled’ a few months ago.

The area also lacks agricultural equipment. Mr Kethishwaran, additional director – planning, told the Sunday Times that the district has only 80 tractors though 80 per cent of the villagers are farmers. He said they needed more water pumps, fertilizer and seed paddy. “We have to expedite the construction of houses as the monsoon rains will start soon,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the adjoining Mullaitivu district, the ongoing mine-clearing operations had enabled civilians to be resettled in three areas.

Reacting to claims that the government had acquired civilians’ land, Resettlement Minister Milroy Fernando said he would visit Kilinochchi on August 16 and 17 to resolve such problems.

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