Vanni ban relaxed, rules limit flow
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 15 January 2002, 14:47 GMT]
Six hundred civilians would be permitted to travel from the LTTE held Vanni region through the Sri Lanka armyís entry point at Piramanaalankulam from Monday to Friday under new regulations by the Sri Lankan government which came into effect Tuesday as part of a move to ease the 12 year old embargo and travel restrictions in the war torn northern parts of the island.
Earlier, only seven hundred were allowed to come through on Tuesdays and Fridays. Six hundred would be allowed into the Vanni during weekdays from army held areas; and the draconian red tape that civilians had to face in obtaining clearance from the SLA for travelling to the Vanni from other parts of the island have been eased, a senior government official in Vavuniya said.
| A mother and her son waiting to get security clearance at the Piramanalankulam check point to travel into the Vanni. (Photo:TamilNet) |
Although on paper civilians and traders can take all goods except firearms, explosives, binoculars, barbed wire, remote control devices and pen torch (AAA) batteries which are banned and cement, petrol, diesel and iron rods which would be restricted in unlimited quantities, logistical problems caused by the fact that only 30 lorries would be allowed by the SLA to cross the line for four days a week will limit what people can take, according to the official. ìHence only the transport of essential goods will get priority nowî, he said. No decision has been taken so far on permitting private traders to take goods to the Vanni.
| Dr.Jayalath Jayawardene, Minister of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and refugees saffairs (centre) and John Amaratugne, Minister of Internal Affairs (left) at Piramanalankulam check point. (Photo:TamilNet) |
Officials admit that the Multi-Purpose Co-operative Societies (MPCS) which are currently handling the transport of the unrestricted goods do not have the financial and logistical capacity to meet the massive demand in the Vanni.
Also, one cannot take the unrestricted goods in required quantities despite the gazette notification easing the controls because vehicles for their transport would remain restricted. Special permission for any vehicle in which a person or a business firm wants to transport goods to the Vanni has to be obtained from the Ministry of Defence in Colombo according to the former regulations and tough red tape.
ìTherefore it is too early to speak about an unlimited flow of the non-restricted goods to the Vanniî, the official added.
Civilians coming from the Vanni do not need to produce documents signed by government and village officials to prove their bona fide at the Piamanaalankulam entry point of the SLA. They need to only bring their national identity cards now. They would be given a permit to stay two weeks in Vavuniya. Earlier they got ten days.
Goods are being checked by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers at Piramanalankulam check point. (Photo:TamilNet)
Residents of the Vanni will have to handover this pass issued at the Piramanaalankulam entry point by the SLA along with their national identity cards to the Police to obtain clearance to travel outside Vavuniya to other parts of the country. The Police will screen them and grant the necessary clearance to them in 48 hours.
Residents of Colombo, including local journalists, can obtain clearance for going to the Vanni by submitting their Police registration in the capital along with their temporary stay pass for Vavuniya. Permission would be granted in 24 hours, according to officials.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Interior, Mr. John Amaratunga who visited Vavuniya Tuesday said that the Vavuniya ñ Trincomalee road through Horawapotana which has remain closed since 10 September 1992 would be reopened from 4 February. He claimed that a kerosene storage facility would be soon opened in Madhu to meet the great demand for this fuel in the Vanni.
The Interior Minister, Mr. Amaratunga, the Minister for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction and Refugee Affairs, Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena, the Minister for Vanni regional rehabilitation, Mr. Noordeen Mashoor, Government Agent for Vavuniya, Mr. K. Ganesh, the Deputy Inspector General of Police for the Vavuniya range, Mr. M. M Dharmaratna and several military and civilian officials took part in the function at Piramanaalankulam this morning to send the first batch of goods to the Vanni under the new regulations.
Local and foreign media personnel were also present at the function. Dr. Jayawardena spoke among the civilians who were at the entry point.
A lorry is about to leave for Vanni. (Photo:TamilNet)