Demining in north Lanka continues, India sends experts
Last Updated: Thursday, March 25, 2010, 20:52
Colombo: Over 1,000 Sri Lankan army engineers, along with seven demining teams from India, are racing against time to complete the process of clearing mines and resettle over 54,000 people living in the camps in the once LTTE-dominated north.

The army said over 1,325 square kilometres have already been made free of mines in north Sri Lanka and Wanni areas.

"An area of 875 square kilometres has been identified for demining at present. Around 1,100 personnel from the army engineers’ corps and 7 NGOs are engaged in these measures," Military Spokesman Major General Prasad Samarasinghe said.

Seven Indian demining expert teams are working in Sri Lanka, fully funded by India, have so far cleared an area of approximately 63,012,876 square metres in the districts of Vavuniya and Mannar, making them habitable and conducive of cultivation and other economic activities.

In addition to these, the demining teams will also carry out a non-technical survey in Mullaitivu in the Kokkilaim and Vavuniya district's Puliyankulam region to identify the areas for demining and releasing the rest for re-settlement.

According to Samarasinghe, over 1,83,219 IDPs have been resettled and only another 54,000 remain to be resettled. Over 29,000 IDPs have gone out of the welfare centres after obtaining permission, he said.

Meanwhile, the army have undertaken a housing project for IDPs in the Jaffna peninsula. Accordingly 680 houses of 224 square feet will be constructed free of charge and 437 completed houses will be handed over by next month, he added.

In recent times, 480 civilians are injured in landmine explosions, he said adding the IDPs could be resettled only after ensuring their safety.

The spokesman said A9, B69, B35 highway routes along Mullativu and Mannar districts including Kokavil, Kilinochchi and Muhamali to Paranthan have been cleared.

Meanwhile, the government has planned to provide a livelihood grant of Sri Lankan Rs 25,000 for each resettled family as a measure to uplift livelihood condition.

A ceremony was held at Chavakachcheri town in Jaffna peninsula earlier this week to handover the grant for 900 resettled families, by Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare Douglas Devananda and Northern Province Governor Maj General G A Chandrasiri.

Under North East Community Restoration and Development Project (NECORD), the government provided livelihood grant for 30,000 families in the Northern Province, including 21,000 families from Jaffna, 1,340 families from Vavuniya and 2,756 families from Kilinochchi. The government have allocated Rs 750 Million for this project.


First Published: Thursday, March 25, 2010, 20:52

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