Minister seeks LTTE's help to restore electricity
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 28 October 1998, 03:33 GMT]
Mr.M.L.M Hisbullah, Sri Lanka's Deputy Minister for Posts and Telecommunications and Media, appealed to the Liberation Tigers in Batticaloa to help solve the disruption of electricity supply to the district.
The minister said that he had emphasised that electricity cannot be supplied to the Batticaloa district without the permission of the Liberation Tigers when he had met the Sri Lankan President, the deputy Minister for defence Anuruddha Ratwatte and top army officials last Friday to discuss the power crisis in the east.
Speaking at the annual prize giving of the Rahumaaniya College in Eravur, 16 kilometers north of Batticaloa yesterday, Hisbullah said "The Ministry of Defence gave permission to supply electricity to seven villages in Batticaloa but only four have received it. The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB)in Batticaloa has already received 14 million rupees and material to begin work for supplying the other villages of Vavunathivu, Mankikkaddu and Arasadithivu.
"But the army has instructed the CEB not to give electricity to these villages without its permission. This is why I had to meet the President and others last Friday," the minister said.
"Work has been expedited to supply all areas of the district with electricity before the end of this year. It does not mean that we are giving the Tigers electricity when we supply Arasadithivu. The welfare of the people in those parts have been neglected for long. The problems of Batticaloa can only be understood by those who live in Batticaloa. Those who are in Colombo or elsewhere cannot comprehend them. The war is one thing and the basic problems of the people are another. The people cannot live without basic needs until the war is over" he said.
M.L.M Hisbullah is a senior leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, the Sri Lankan government's main coalition partner. Batticaloa has been without electricity for more than a week after the Liberation Tigers blasted the main supply pylons and transformers in the district. Hisbullah negotiated with the Ministry of Defence in December 1996 to supply electricity to several villages in Batticaloa's vast hinterland.
The SLA command in the district, however, objected to this last year because the Liberation Tigers who control Batticaloa's hinterland could, according to the SLA, use the power to run their ordnance facilities. The electricity that was supplied to some villages in the hinterland was disrupted due to SLA shelling later.