Fuel restrictions affect civilians - Delegation

[TamilNet, Sunday, 30 August 1998, 14:03 GMT]
A large delegation representing various organizations in Vavuniya met the SLA's commander for the district Brigadier Seevali Wanigasekera this afternoon to discuss the question of the severe restrictions on fuel imposed in the region by the Sri Lankan government (SLG).

The delegation comprised, among others, officials of the Vavuniya Traders' Association, Lorry Owners' Association, Van Owners' Association, Autorickshaw Owners Association, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, PLOTE deputy leader Manikkam Daasan and the chief incumbent of the local Buddhist temple Siyambalagaswewa Wimalasara Thero.

The members of delegation met this morning at 10 a.m. to discuss a course of action against the imposition of the fuel restriction.

The army will also impose restriction on the supply of kerosene from Tuesday, September 1. Families in Vavuniya would have to buy a limited quota of kerosene on the basis coupons issued to them by the authorities for the purpose.

Delegation sources said this would hit the majority of the civilian population in the district that depends on kerosene for cooking, well irrigation etc.

The delegation told the Vavuniya Brigadier that the restriction affects the ordinary people more than the Liberation Tigers and that civilians have to face innumerable hardships due the fuel shortages brought about by the regulations.

The Brigadier told the delegation that he has to consult the Sri Lankan army commander on the matter and he would require three days to do so.

The delegation, however, told him that it was prepared to wait for week for a favourable reply.

Sources in the delegation said this evening that the army believes that the enormous amount fuel for the heavy machinery involved in the construction of the forty kilometer long fortified earthen wall (bund) by Liberation Tigers ahead of the positions established by the SLA troops of Operation Jayasikurui.

The ambitious SLA operation to open the A9 highway to the north through the LTTE controlled part of the Vanni region is into its fifteenth month and has run into further problems due to the Tigers' fortified wall.

Informed sources say that the army's outflanking maneuvers and special operations to capture the LTTE's strategic positions on either side of the A9 have been stymied by the 'wall'.

They said that the LTTE's earthen wall which is fortified at regular intervals with steel and concrete defences runs from the edge of Vavunikkulam to the west of the A9 to Ottisuddan, a deserted junction town in the Mullaithivu district to the east of the highway.

The fiercely contested Mankulam town also falls within the defences of the LTTE's 'wall' they said. The SLA according to them believes that the Liberation Tigers could be denied the fuel required to further extend and fortify the 'wall' by restricting supplies of petroleum products to the Vavuniya district.

SLA intelligence has detected officers in the army ranks who were selling large quantities of fuel to black market operators in the region.

However, informed ex-Tamil militant sources operating with the SLA said they were skeptical of the army's strategy.


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