Indian team to discuss 50,000 houses scheme for IDPs

By Mirudhula Thambiah

The Indian Government has agreed to build 50,000 permanent houses for IDPs who are being resettled in Wanni, according to Deputy Resettlement Minister Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan. He said a group of delegates would visit Sri Lanka after the budget to discuss the contract with Lankan officials.

Mr Muralitharan said the ministry was providing Rs75,000 for the people being resettled in Wanni to build temporary huts They would also receive dry rations and other essential items for six months to help them boost their livelihoods.

He pointed out that the proportion of widows was high among the resettled people and they might find it tough in rebuilding their lives. Mr Muralitharan said the resettlement programmes had faced slight delays because of the risks involved in the de-mining process.

The Deputy Minister said he discussed the resettlement process in high security zones with the Defence Secretary. Vavuniya District Secretary Mrs. P S M Charles said the de-mining process in Semamadu, Ilamaruthankulam, Arumugathankulam, Pandrikeithakulam, Maligai and Periyathamannai -Velankulam had been completed and IDPs could return to their areas soon.

“Around 4,000 families have been resettled in Vavuniya and Chettikulam divisions,” she said.
According to Kilinochchi District Secretary Mrs. R. Ketheeswaran, around 27,785 families had been resettled in Kilinochchi so far. “More will be resettling in the upcoming weeks,” she added.

She said the resettlement was taking place in several phases and that each phase would consist of 350 families. People from Bharathypuram, Maruthanagar, Vattakachichi, Mayavanoor, Karachi, and Malayalapuram will be resettled next week, she said.

A report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the de-mining operations were continuing in areas east of the A9 road with the involvement of the Sri Lanka Army Humanitarian Demaining Unit (SLA HDU), MAG, District Mine Action Office (DMAO), the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) and the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

Aid agencies say the government was planning to close the Menik Farm soon. The area might be converted into a welfare village or an industrial zone, according to previous reports. Authorities in Colombo are likely to take a final decision on the issue, said a top official.

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