Rehabilitate Northeast before 'Regaining' Sri Lanka - NGOs

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 07 May 2003, 00:05 GMT]
The Chairman of the Consortium of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Trincomalee, Mr.T.Thavasilingam, speaking at a discussion held Tuesday in Trincomalee attended by representatives of provincial trade unions, said that there was an urgent need for rehabilitating all infrastructure destroyed in the twenty-year-old war in the northeast province simultaneously with the resettlement of internally displaced persons.

Trinco meet
American Center for International Labor Solidarity field representative in Sri Lanka Mr.William Conklin seen (middle) with CTTU President Mr.Thandauthapani (L) and CTTU general secretary Mr.T.Mahasivam (R).
The discussions were held under the auspices of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS).

Before implementing the ‘Regaining Sri Lanka’ project, action should be taken immediately to rehabilitate the northeast on par with other provinces in the country, Mr.Thavasilingam added.

The Sri Lanka Field Representative of the ACILS, Mr. William Conklin, participated at the discussion. The objective of the discussion was to gather views and suggestions of civil groups regarding the present peace process and the proposed rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in the northeast province, sources said.

Link roads that connect main and trunk roads with villages in the northeast should be reconstructed under an emergency program to facilitate the resettled Internally Displaced Persons( IDPs) to market their agricultural produce and to revive their economy. All village roads should be made motorable. This is the ideal time for implementing a transport sector development plan in the war torn province, said Mr.Thavasilingam.

He pointed out the urgent need to supply mid-day meal for children and their mothers of the internally displaced families until they could commence activities of their livelihood in their villages.

The government at present has formulated a scheme to provide livelihood assistance and housing help for those IDPs resettled on or after February 22, last year, the date the ceasefire agreement was signed. This should be amended accommodating all IDPs who resettled in their lands before the signing of the ceasefire agreement, said Mr.Thavasilingam.

Mr.Thavasilingam urged the government that all IDPs who are resettled in their lands before the signing of the ceasefire agreement should also be given livelihood assistance. They should also be paid housing assistance, sources said.

Mr.Thavasilingam brought to the notice of the audience that only forty percent of people in northeast are provided with safe drinking water compared to eighty percent in other provinces.

The General Secretary of the Ceylon Tamil Teachers Union (CTTU), Mr.T.Mahasivam, said that the report on ‘Regaining Sri Lanka’ had been published only in two languages and not in the Tamil language. "This clearly indicates the Sri Lankan government's intention of marginalizing Tamils in the development of the country," he said.

Sources said that a report prepared with the assistance of the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and United Nations, titled ‘Assessment of needs in the conflict affected areas of the northeast’ states, "The infrastructure of the northeast is greatly debilitated due to the armed conflict and needs significant rehabilitation, reconstruction and development. These needs stem from three problems, namely, damage due to the conflict, deterioration of service due to lack of maintenance, and stagnation in development and improvements compared to the rest of the island.”

 

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