Vilankulam families benefit from housing project
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 04 October 2005, 11:10 GMT]
Internally displaced families who fled from Vilankulam, a Tamil village located on the Trincomalee-Kandy highway about 13 km off southwest of the east port city, twenty years ago following ethnic disturbances are slowly resettling back in their own lands. The Trincomalee Rotary Club (TRC) has been implementing a low-cost housing project for these resettled families.
Mr.Nihal Bogahalande, Sri Lanka's District Rotary Governor handed over the first house under this project to a beneficiary family on the twentieth anniversary of their displacement last weekend.
Resettled families seen in front of makeshift cadjan structure
( from left ) Rotary District Governor Mr.Nihal Bogahalande , TRC Secretary Mr.Rajarammohan, President Mr.Singarayer , Ms Singarayer are seen with the occupants Mr.V. Yogaraja and his wife after the handing over of the first house.
District Governor Mr.Nihal Bogahalande and his wife Ms Savitri and Trincomalee Rotarians and resettled families in front of the first house donated.
Children of resettled families praying before the handing over event commences.
Name board of the Rotary Project
TRC President and Secretary Mr. A.Z.J.Singarayer and Mr.R.Rajarammohan and fellow Rotarians participated in the event attended by returnees.
Mr.Velupillai Yogarajah, (42), first beneficiary who received a permanent house under the project said he fled two decades ago from Vilankulam due to disturbances in the area and sought refuge first in Clappenburg refugee camp, later in Kappalthurai welfare centre and finally at Thampalakamam.
Of ninety five families of the village eighty families with required documents have been identified for immediate settlement in the village.
With the signing of the ceasefire agreement they started returning to their lands, living in makeshift cadjan structures put up with borrowed money. The Trincomalee Rotary Club on seeing the poor dwelling facilities of these returnees launched a low-cost housing project with the support of Rotary International and Rotary Clubs in United Kingdom (UK) and United States of America (USA). Trincomalee Rotary Club was successful in getting the approval for the construction of first fifty-five houses from the Rotary International. Of the 55 houses, the construction work on 30 houses is nearing completion. Rotarians in Colombo also contributed their share to this venture, sources said.
Majority of the Vilankulam IDPs since 1985 had been sheltered welfare centres run by the UNHCR at Allesgarden, Clappenburg, Thampalakamam and elsewhere in the district. The Allesgarden welfare camp which is located along the seacoast where a section of these IDPs sheltered was destroyed in last year tsunami and the IDPs were again displaced, sources said.
The Danish Refugees Council (DRC) provided assistance to clear the shrub jungles, which covered the residential plots of the village after 1985. The De-Mining Unit of the Sri Lanka Army cleared mines from the village and issued mine clearance certificate to the TRC to commence construction work, sources said.
"About one million Rotarians are actively contributing financial assistance through their clubs for the rehabilitation of the village and the resettlers. The returnees are also contributing their share in reconstruction of the village, said Mr. Rajarammohan, TRC Secretary.
Mr.Nihal Bogahalande addressing the resettled members of IDP families said "I have been told that all of you have left this village twenty years ago due to disturbances in the area. I am glad that the Rotary Foundation with clubs in UK and USA have been successful in resettling you all in your own land, in your own village."
"I hope that peace prevails in Sri Lanka and would like to see a greener village and Vilankulam tank with full capacity and resettled people with gainful employment when I visit next year," Mr.Nihal Bogahalande said
He added the TRC has a plan to alleviate the suffering of the resettlers in their livelihood.
"I wish the resettled people a happy life and a better future after twenty years of struggle. I would also take this opportunity to assure you all that the Rotary Movement would do whatever possible for your betterment," Sri Lanka's Rotary Governor said.
The main occupation of Vilankulam villagers is cultivation and animal husbandry. The Vilankulam tank is providing irrigation facilities to paddy cultivation in Maha season. Currently the tank is dry and resettled farmers expecting rain shortly to commence their paddy and other cash crop cultivation after about two decades.