Feature Article

Militarisation of housing contract frustrates storm affected Tamils in Ampaa'rai North

[TamilNet, Monday, 23 April 2018, 18:49 GMT]
Tamil residents have expressed serious concerns over the occupying Sinhala military of genocidal Sri Lanka emerging as the contractor of reconstructing the roofs of a housing scheme with 684 apartments, which come under two village (GS) divisions in Periya-neelaava'nai of Kalmunai administrative division in the Ampaa'rai district, along the border of the Batticaloa district. The residents are in shock after learning that the apartments, initially constructed by the SL Foreign Ministry exploiting international funds in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami catastrophe, are not strong enough to bear roofs of traditional tiles. The SL military contractors are now going to put up lighter roofing sheets, which are prone to wind suction during extreme weather, informed civil sources in the division told TamilNet.

The 70 km long Batticaloa lagoon, stretching between Ea'raavoor and Thu'rai-neelaava'nai. [Satellite image courtesy: Google Earth]
The location of Periya Neelaava'nai (right) and Thu'rai Neelaava'nai (left). [Satellite image courtesy: Google Earth]
Housing complex
Housing complex
Housing complex
The move of awarding the contract to the SL military has come after a thunderstorm blew off the roofing sheets of the three-storey buildings at Periya-neelaava'nai on 28 February 2018.

The scheme, located in the coastal stretch 40 km south of Batticaloa city, was put up ten years ago for the families affected by the 2004 Tsunami.

The roofing of 250 apartments on the top floors of the Tsunami housing need to be fully repaired.

The SL Foreign Ministry was in charge of the project to construct 300 apartments with sheet roofing. Finland's Red Cross society contributed putting up another 246 houses with tile roofs. SL Minister of Housing at that time Ms Ferial Ashraff facilitated foreign aid through an Islamic organisation to construct the remaining 108 apartments in the cluster.

The Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS), mediated by Norway between the parties to the conflict, the GoSL and the LTTE, was scuttled by the SL Supreme Court during the regime of former SL President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. The scuttling resulted in Colombo government unilaterally deciding the quality of post-Tsunami reconstruction triggering controversies, mismanagement as well as aggravating the conflict to the level of SL Supreme Court ruling the merged Northeastern province was unconstitutional, invalid and "illegal,” in October 2016.

The affected residents at Periya-neelava'nai temporarily relocated from their apartments also complain that none of the SL State mechanisms or provincial mechanisms has come to their aid during the past two months despite the promises by SL Minister Rauff Hakeem who visited the victims following the destruction caused by the storm.

Relief officials promised to provide 7,000 rupees worth of dry rations to each affected family until they can resettle back in the building. But, nothing, except one pack of Sathosa dry food, has been provided to the uprooted people.

Mr Kodeeswaran, a TNA parliamentarian from Ampaa'rai visited the site after the tragedy.

“However, we don't know whether the TNA hierarchy has any knowledge of the pathetic state,” a civil official who didn't wish to be named told TamilNet.

The Tamil official was however appreciative of the attention that had come from Tamil-speaking Muslim politicians such as SL Minister Rauff Hakeem and parliamentarian Ali Zahir Moulana on the issue although their promises were yet to materialise.

Housing complex

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