The Sri Lankan government has asked the delegation of MPs from Tamil Nadu to visit Sri Lanka again after three months “to see for themselves that Sri Lanka has not violated the promise that Sinhalese will not be settled in Tamil areas.”
Congress MPs E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan and K.S. Alagiri, who were part of the delegation, said Basil Rajapaksa, adviser to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had denied the allegation that his government was trying to change the demographic character of the Tamil areas.
“When we raised the apprehension, the Sri Lankan government said it would not commit the mistakes committed by many countries, that had led to permanent conflicts,” Mr. Alagiri told The Hindu.
At the same time Sri Lanka could not deny permission to the Sinhalese families that used to live in the Tamil areas, before war uprooted both the communities, Mr. Alagiri said, quoting Mr. Basil Rajapaksa.
The Congress MPs said the Sri Lankan government did not try to hide anything from the visiting MPs, and it was heavy mines, the handiwork of both the Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE, that was standing in the way of the resettlement of Tamils.
“India is helping in demining the areas. But the Sri Lankan government is facing a crisis when it comes to financial and human resources. It needs the support of the international community, NGOs, besides the Asian nations. That is our overall understanding,” said Mr. Natchiappan.
While the government had started the process of rehabilitating families that had land, property and business establishments, it was helpless in the case of those who had no property and others including orphans, widows and the disabled.
“The government is ready to allow the families without property to live with hosts. But in many places the hosts are demanding money and it has become a scandal. There is a delay in resettling the orphans, widows and persons with disability because not many NGO are coming forward,” Mr. Natchiappan said.
He said the children in the camps were not missing education as around 2,000 teachers were conducting classes.
“I was told the teachers were getting around Rs. 20,000 per month. There are 150 doctors and the patients are allowed to visit hospitals outside the camps. People take buses to visit hospitals and there is no restriction on the movement of people,” he said.
Mr. Alagiri said there was water scarcity in the camps. “The government claims that it supplies 10 litres of water to a person every day, but sometimes one gets only 5 litres.”
“Many informed people wanted India to facilitate a political settlement since the LTTE, which resisted all the efforts, is no longer in the picture. They also wanted India to bring together all the Tamil political groups which will go a long way in protecting the interests of the Tamils,” he felt.