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Housing development in estate sector held up due to shortage of funding



BY Rathindra Kuruwita

Three thousand five hundred and seventy six (3,576) houses under a project to build 14,000 housing units in the plantation community on a full grant basis by 31 December 2020 have been completed, but 2,877 of them could not be handed over to the beneficiaries because there are no funds to supply electricity and water, the Annual Performance Report of the State Ministry of Estate Housing and Community Infrastructure for the year 2020 says.

“The construction of 3576 houses was completed by 31.12.2020 and out of them 699 have already been handed over to the beneficiaries. Out of these houses, 2877 are to be provided with electricity and water,” the report says.

The report has revealed that another 424 houses are in various stages of construction, and they are scheduled to be completed before September 30, 2021.

The houses could not be provided with electricity or water in 2020 because the Treasury had not allocated funds for the project. Therefore, approval has been received to extend the project period up to September 2021 and to allocate Rs. 522 million for the provision of infrastructure facilities, the Ministry says.

Work on another 10,000 houses is to commence this year at an estimated cost of Rs. 11 billion out of which the Indian government is to grant Rs. 9.5 billion. These will be built for the plantation community in Badulla, Hatton, Nuwara- Eliya, Kandy, Kegalle, Ratnapura and Galle.

The Ministry says there are three types of houses in the estates now: Single barrack Line Houses, Double barrack Line Houses and Temporary Houses.

“A Single Barrack Line House is a 264 square feet house with a front veranda and a single room. A double line room has an area of around 145 – 175 square feet each. Temporary houses have been built adjacent to the existing line rooms since the existing line rooms are not sufficient with the gradual increase in the number of families in the plantation sector. These houses have the least facilities,” the report says.

Given that such housing is degrading for inhabitants, there was a proposal to build 550-square-foot single houses with adjoining toilets, on a seven-perch blocks of land with title deeds and infrastructure such as safe drinking water, electricity, and access roads.

“For the year 2020, it was decided complete 1,710 housing units. The Ministry was able to complete the construction of 700 houses by 31 December 2020 by continuing the housing programme in collaboration with the Plantation Human Development Trust. Rs. 768.95 million was spent on infrastructure for new houses during the year. This also includes Rs. 88 million spent on the provision of essential infrastructure. However, the allocations received were not sufficient to build the remaining 1010 houses.”

The Ministry says there are 1,544 Child Development Centres under the Estate Management to provide day care facilities for children between the ages of two and five. Out of them 550 or 38% of the centres have low level facilities.



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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance



By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs



A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture



Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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