Little hope for resettling Tamil villages in Trinco
[TamilNet, Saturday, 21 April 2001, 21:00 GMT]
"Wild animals are roaming in many abandoned Tamil villages in the Trincomalee district. Entire populations of these were forced to flee their homes due to military actions more than fifteen years ago. Around five thousand displaced are still living in fifteen welfare centers and the rest are living with their relatives in Trincomalee town. Several Tamil villages in the district, particularly in the Kuchchaveli division, are without basic facilities such as schools, and dispensaries. There is little hope that any funds for development would be allocated to such areas by the District Co-ordinating Committee because there aren't any Tamil MP's on it", said a senior Sri Lankan government official in Trincomalee Sunday.
Large Tamil villages in the northern parts of the Trincomalee district such as Thennamarawaadi, Thiriyai, Kuchchaveli and Kumburupiddi were destroyed almost overnight between 1984 and 1986 due to Sri Lanka army actions. None of these and scores of villages surrounding them such as Kallampaththai, Iranaikkerni and Peraaru have been resettled or reconstructed so far. Tamil political partied blame deliberate government policy for the continued neglect.
The District Co-ordinating Committee is a body comprising the Government Agent, senior government officials and the MPs of a district. In the districts of the north and east of the island the Sri Lanka army also is represented on the DCC. The committee is empowered to plan out and implement development projects in the district with funds allocated to MPs under Decentralised Budget (DCB) by the central government.
The newly constituted Trincomalee DCC met on Thursday 19 April for the first time after the conclusion of the general elections in October 2000. All the MPs of the Trincomalee district, Mr. Najeeb Abdul Majeed MP, Mr. M.A.M. Maharoof MP, Mr. M.S. Thoufeek MP and Mr. M.K. De. S. Gunawardene MP, attended the DCC meeting.
The DCC on Thursday unanimously adopted the lists of proposed development projects to be implemented during the year, which were submitted by the four MPs.
Tamils in Trincomalee lost their parliamentary representation at the last general elections in October 2000 because their vote was divided between three Tamil political parties and four Independent Tamil groups. The three Muslim parliamentarians of Trincomalee are from Kinniya, one of the traditional Muslim towns in the Trincomalee district.
Every parliamentarian is allocated 2.5 million rupees under the DCB.
Most of the development projects proposed at the DCC on Thursday by the Muslim and Sinhala parliamentarians of Trincomalee are located in Muslim and Sinhala areas.
Development work in the Tamil areas of the district is generally neglected. Tamil parties say that the problem has been further exacerbated because there is no Tamil MP on the Trincomalee DCC now. Some Tamil officials who attended the inaugural meeting said "The absence of Tamil parliamentary representation is severely felt at the first DCC meeting when DCB funds are allocated for the proposed development projects by the present MPs of the district". But another official in the Trincomalee district secretariat disagrees. "Very little was done about the abandoned villages in Trincomalee north even when we had articulate Tamil MPs on the Committee", he points out.
"Fifty percent of the houses damaged due to the war and anti Tamil pogroms in the Trincomalee district since 1993 have not been repaired and no compensation has been paid for the owners of those houses to get their dwellings renovated," said an official in charge of District Planning. A detailed report has been prepared about the damages caused to houses in the district since 1983 due to the ethnic violence.
He said: "Of the 42,896 houses damaged since 1983 due to the war and violence in the district, only 20,273 houses have been repaired or completely renovated".
"The total number of families displaced in the Trincomalee district since 1983 was 56743. Of this around 49,099 families had been resettled. The rest, around 10 thousand, are living in welfare centers and with their relatives and friends." The displaced people fear for their safety when they return to their villages. First we must ensure their security"