The project by the Indian government to build 50,000 houses for the displaced people of the north has been further delayed because of a dispute over the bids for the construction, a cabinet minister told the Sunday Times.
The initial project for 1,000 houses is also at a standstill.
Minister Douglas Devananda said two Indian companies had bid for the project to build the houses at Rs. 500,000 each, but they were now demanding Rs. 700,000 thereby delaying the project.
“The Tamil National Alliance has used its influence to increase the bids thereby delaying the project,” he charged. But, TNA Parliamentarian S. Sritharan has dismissed the allegation as baseless.
An Indian High Commission spokesman said tenders for the housing project had been awarded and they were mobilizing the local resources.
“No deadline has been given to complete the project,” he said.
However, the Sunday Times learns that besides the issue of the bidding for the project, there was a deadlock as the Sri Lankan government wanted to play a major role in the implementation.
Jaffna’s District Secretary Emelda Sukumar said she had already identified 7,650 beneficiaries and sent the file to the Presidential Task Force.
Kilinochchi’s District Secretary S. Ketheeshwaran said she was selecting the beneficiaries.
Besides the Northern Province, the Eastern and Central Provinces are also due to benefit from the project.
The Indian government’s pledge of 50,000 houses came when President Mahinda Rajapaksa met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi early last year.
The foundation stone for the pilot project was laid in Ariyalai, Jaffna November last year by Indian External Affairs Minister, S.M. Krishna.