I have not been sidelined after KP`s advent: Karuna
Last Updated: Sunday, September 12, 2010, 17:31
Colombo: Amidst speculation that detained LTTE leader K Pathmanathan is likely to play a major political role in war ravaged northern Sri Lanka, a former top commander of the vanquished group and cabinet minister Karuna Amman has denied of being sidelined following the development.

"That is not true. KP is a different matter. My role in the government is different from his. He is helping the state to channel diaspora funding for northern development activities. It was a government decision," Karuna Amman said in an interview to state-run Sunday Observer.

"KP is from the North. I am from the East. We have different roles to play. I have not been affected by his involvement. In fact I have a mandate given by the state," Deputy Resettlement minister and ruling Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP), Vice-President, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman said.

"Along with my minister Milroy Fernando we have been allocated a large sum of money to look after the IDPs and make our contribution in the development drive," he said.

On the issue of High Security Zones (HSZs) that has deprived some Tamil families of their residential places in Jaffna, Karuna said over 68,000 families there are from HSZs.

"They have been living elsewhere, with their relatives and friends for the past 20-25 years. We are making arrangements to release some of the land gradually. But we may have to permanently relocate some families in other areas."

On whether all IDPs in North could be resettled before the end of this year, Amman said it was possible.

"Yes, it is possible. Only about 28,000 families remain in transit camps now. We resettle over 2000 families per week.

Once they are resettled their basic needs will be looked after by line ministries and some NGOs and INGOs.

"Some people say they have nothing. It should be understood that we can't provide everything within three months. The project to build 50,000 houses by the Indian Government is now in progress.

"We are negotiating a soft loan scheme for houses with the Housing Ministry headed by Minister Wimal Weerawansa. This will be put before the Cabinet for approval shortly," the minister said.

He said restoration of livelihoods of re-settlers is another key project with some of the re-settlers having already returned to their traditional fishing trade.

"Some have taken up to farming. The restrictions on fishing have been completely done away with. Now there are no barriers for fishermen to continue with their trade around the clock. The biggest project to revive infrastructure in the North will get off the ground in January next year."

The eastern revival was a big success, now we are concentrating on the North, Amman added.


First Published: Sunday, September 12, 2010, 17:31

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