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.