The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran, has appealed to the Lankan government to reconsider its plan to build 65,000 prefabricated houses for war-displaced persons in the province through a contract with ArcelorMittal, a Luxembourg-based company headed by the Indian billionaire, Lakshmi Niwas Mittal.
Speaking at a function at Koppai to mark the handing over of 700 acres of land to civilians by the army, Wigneswaran appealed to President Maithripala Sirisena, who was present, to give up the housing project on the grounds that it is too expensive and also unsuited to the economic condition of the displaced Tamils.
“They do not suit our climate, our environment, our culture, our way of life and are exorbitantly expensive. We can build up to 2 or 3 houses with the money spent for each house. Houses with furniture, TVs, solar panels and gas cylinders would create a new elite among the IDPs being resettled,” he said.
“Repairs to these houses cannot be undertaken immediately due to the type of prefabricated materials used in building these houses. Gas cylinders are being given, but gas has to be purchased out of the occupants’ own money. How many of them can afford to buy gas? If they cannot use the gas cylinders and they try to go back to their traditional ways of cooking, there would be many negative consequences in a building of this nature. Our engineers have inspected these buildings and given reports which are not favorable,” Wigneswaran said.
According to Sunday Times, each house is to cost LKR 2 million, while the government proposes to build houses for the Indian Origin estate workers for LKR 1.2 million per house. The houses built under the Indian Housing Scheme for the war-refugees cost between LKR 550,000 and 800,000. The houses built by the government are to be built as per the requirements of the beneficiaries, as indeed the Indian housing project dwellings were.
Lankan housing experts have also opposed the ArcelorMittal project on cost and suitability grounds, but Rehabilitation Minister D.M.Swaminathan is determined to go ahead with it.
Courtesy:New Indian Express