Indian housing aid programmed for exploitation by Colombo agents in East
Disregarding the repeated requests by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) politicians in the Batticaloa district to include local community leaders such as the heads of the Rural Development Societies (RDS), representatives from women groups and trustees of temples in the committees to select the beneficiaries of the Indian housing scheme, the SL government has handed over the selection process in the Batticaloa district to its paramilitary and the political outfits of SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ruling party, civil sources in the district say. Despite their rapport with New Delhi, the TNA has failed in making India to deliver the aid directly to the affected people without the exploitation of genocidal Colombo, the civil sources in the district further said.
Under the Indian housing scheme a total of 4,000 housing units are to be constructed in the Eastern Province, out of which 2,000 units are allocated for the Batticaloa district and 1,000 units each for the Ampaa’rai and Trincomalee districts.
75% of the houses allocated for Batticaloa district are to be allocated for the uprooted people from Paduvaankarai region and the Indian High Commission in Colombo wants to complete 300 houses by 20 April in the first phase, the sources further said.
Villages that come under Vellaave’li, Vavu’na-theevu and Koa’ra’laip-pattu South Divisional Secretariat divisions are earmarked for this project.
The selection of recipients will have to be done by the divisional secretaries.
Preliminary meetings in this connection were held in the three DS divisions headed by Mahinda Rajapaksa’s SLFP and paramilitary representatives.
Civil sources in the three divisions say that the agents of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ruling party and the paramilitary operatives operated by Colombo are instructing the divisional secretaries to select the recipients proposed by them, in an attempt to misuse the scheme to woo supporters to their outfits and groups.
Initially, the beneficiaries were to be selected for 100 housing units in each DS division and the selections were to be made according to a points-based scheme.
If the chief occupant of a household is alive 10 points are allotted. If the chief occupant is a widowed person, 20 points are to be allotted. In a parentless family, if the oldest is an unmarried female 30 points are allotted. If there are children under 12 years of age, 20 points are added, and if the children residing with the parents are above the age of eighteen, 10 points are added.
However, a discriminatory practice of not allocating any point to those, who have been members of the LTTE in the past, is being adopted to justify the selections made by the paramilitary and SLFP outfits, the sources said.
Most of the families in Paduvaankarai had members in the LTTE in the past.
Further, those who received houses donated by NGOs will not be entitled for the houses under the Indian scheme, divisional secretaries have said. This has led to discriminatory practices as those who had earlier received ad-hoc housing units donated by NGOs in the past are also discriminated despite the fact that several of these huts now stand roofless.