Colombo: As the deadline for resettling displaced Tamil civilians in Wanni by January 31 nears, the demining experts from India and other countries have cleared around 62 million sq kms, filled with explosives, in northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan troops have cleared an area of 62,760,434 square metres in northern and eastern provinces this year, army spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.
The government has said it would make every effort to resettle one lakh remaining Tamil IDPs, who are staying in camps in north and other areas, back to their homes by end of next month.
The forces have recovered 8,313 anti personnel mines and 2,536 other explosives hidden in these areas which could have posed a hazard to the civilians, Nanayakkara said.
The Army had cleared an area of 450,402,744 square metres in seven districts of northern and eastern provinces since 2002, the state run `Daily News` today quoted the military spokesman as saying.
Altogether 34,336 explosives were recovered in Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts, he said in the report.The explosives included 19 anti tank mines and 17,323 anti-personnel mines. The demining process was initiated with 120 de-miners and their strength has risen to 820 deminers, 22 machines and 7 demining dogs, Nanayakkara said.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan Premier Ratnasiri Wickremanayake said at a meeting in Kadirgamar Relief Centre in Vavuniya earlier this week that government will not allow resettlement unless the conditions there were hospitable.
The government was ready to provide the displaced Tamil civilians with necessary infrastructure, he added.
"We know you have suffered due to terrorism. Following our humanitarian operation we have been able to wipe out terrorism completely and the people are now able to live happily," `Daily News` quoted the Prime Minister as saying.
"I have always spoken against terrorism. I have never uttered a word against Tamil-speaking people. I have many Tamil friends. I have visited Jaffna several times and we have become friends," he said.
"Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims lived peacefully in this land," he said, adding "We now have the opportunity to regain all that was lost, to re-build ourselves."