Tamil exclusion from ADB project triggered dispute - LTTE

[TamilNet, Monday, 31 July 2006, 12:56 GMT]
The ‘water’ dispute cited by the government of Sri Lanka as justification for its military offensive this week began two weeks ago due to a refusal by Colombo to implement that part of an ADB-funded project which would supply drinking water to Tamils in LTTE-controlled areas and to go ahead with supply to Sinhala colonies in government-controlled areas, the LTTE said in a statement. The intention of the Sri Lankan airstrikes last week was to prevent international ceasefire monitors from meeting local Tamils protesting their exclusion from the ADB project, the LTTE Peace Secretariat said.

In response to the Sri Lankan government claim that it is intervening to ensure irrigation for thousands of people, the LTTE’s Political Wing head for Trincomalee, Mr. S Elilan, pointed out that the Pankulam irrigation tank in Trincomalee is occupied by the Sri Lankan Navy and as a result 2000 acres of paddy fields belonging to Tamils have not been cultivated for many years.

Contrasting this with the government’s launch of airstrikes within six days of the disruption of water to government-controlled, the Peace Secretariat listed thirteen instances of airstrikes by Colombo since April 25, 2006 in which 33 people were killed and 47 wounded.

Extracts of the LTTE statement follow:

“[In the 1970s] the Allai-Kantalai irrigation scheme for irrigating paddy fields in Mutur and Senuruwala was started by the GoSL and large scale new Sinhala settlements were created in the traditional Tamil homeland to benefit from the irrigation scheme. These areas are presently in the GoSL controlled areas of Trincomalee.

“During the early phase of the present CFA period Asian Development Bank (ADB) came up with a plan to provide drinking water to these GoSL controlled areas. People in the LTTE controlled areas protested that they have more urgent need for such a water supply scheme and the water that will be used for the ADB scheme is coming from their area.

“Following the protest ADB agreed to extend their water supply plan to include LTTE administered areas. However, this scheme was put on hold as the political situation deteriorated.

“Two weeks ago the NorthEast Development Ministry announced that it is going to implement the water supply scheme just for the GoSL controlled areas. Outraged people in LTTE areas who were excluded from the scheme, who just two years ago successfully raised the awareness of the ADB to their urgent water problem, decided to protest again to force the authorities to address their urgent needs.

“On Thursday 20 July the protesters chose to close the sluice gate and cut the water supply to the GoSL areas. They also sent a letter to the GoSL stating three requests as conditions for reopening the sluice gate: ensure security of civilians who must travel between GoSL and LTTE areas; remove the ban on items imposed by the army; and incorporate drinking water supply to their areas.

“No response was received from the GoSL by the protesting people.

“Instead the Secretary General, Palitha Kohana, wrote to the Head of SLMM on Tuesday 25 July saying that the GoSL will resolve the water dispute. The LTTE Peace Secretariat received the letter at 9.30 pm. The letter was immediately forwarded to the LTTE Trincomalee Political Head S Elilan.

“The following morning [Wednesday July 26] Elilan informed the protesting people and began plans to solve the issue. The people demanded that they want to talk directly to the SLMM. Elilan went back to the SLMM with the people’s request on the same day.

“The SLMM could not come on that day, 26 July, due to security concerns but promised to visit the next day. This promise was made at 2.00 pm 26 July. At 3.20 pm that day GoSL bombs were dropped on the LTTE camp in Kathiraveli, 5 km from Mavilaru, killing 7 people.

“On Thursday 27 July the head of SLMM contacted Elilan wanting to meet the protesters and a meeting was arranged for 2.00 pm on Friday 28 July. At the meeting people demanded guarantees from the SLMM Head which he said he cannot give.

“During the [SLMM] meeting the GoSL dropped bombs very close to where the meeting was taking place. Frustrated protesters walked out of the meeting. The Head of SLMM in an interview to the Reuters said: ‘We sat talking and got clearance from the government and tried to convince the LTTE to have confidence in the government. They dropped a bomb in the vicinity. That's not the right signal.’


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