After huge delays, the US $ 270 million Indian housing project for displaced Tamils in Sri Lanka is now on track.
“The pilot phase of the project for construction of 1,000 houses has been completed. The next phase of the Indian Housing project for 43,000 housing units under the owner-driven mode in the Northern and Eastern provinces has been launched,” said Ashok K. Kantha, High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka in an Independence Day message.
After the initial hiccups, the pilot project of building 1000 houses was completed in July this year. Soon after, the High Commission of India signed agreements to award work to four Implementing Agencies - UN-HABITAT, International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies in partnership with Sri Lanka Red Cross, National Housing Development Agency (NHDA) of the Government of Sri Lanka and Habitat for Humanity, Sri Lanka - signalling the launch of the next phase of the Indian Housing Project for 43,000 housing units in Northern and Eastern Provinces.
In the owner-driven model, beneficiaries will be selected through a transparent and norm-based process on the basis of clearly defined and objective criteria. These beneficiaries will undertake the construction/repair of their houses with technical assistance and support provided by the Implementing Agencies. The money will be released directly by the High Commission of India into bank accounts of beneficiaries based on certification of progress of work.
This phase is expected to meet bulk of the housing needs in these areas. In the last phase of the project, which is also expected to commence soon, about 6,000 houses will be directly built by construction agencies for people from most vulnerable sections of IDPs in the Northern and Eastern provinces and for estate sector in the Central and Uva Provinces.
The construction of 43,000 houses for resettlement and rehabilitation of IDPs in Northern and Eastern Provinces is part of the overall commitment to build 50,000 houses announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the State visit of the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa to India, in June 2010.
The pilot project for the construction of 1,000 houses in the five districts of Northern Province was launched in November 2010. Till July 13, as many as 950 houses were completed under the pilot phase, and most of these were handed over to beneficiaries. The remaining 50 houses were completed by end-July.