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
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.