75 houses handed over in Kattumannarkoil

With the completion of the Kattumannarkoil housing project for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, many such housing projects have been planned in Tamil Nadu.

Even though the Kattumannarkoil project and many others are funded by non-government organisations with proven track record, the State government provides the enabling environment for their execution, senior officials said. In Kattumannarkoil of Cuddalore district, 75 dwelling units of 200 sq ft each were built at a unit cost Rs.1.2 lakh. At a function on Sunday, the houses were handed over to the beneficiaries. They have come up on the premises of the Regulated Market Committee where these 75 families were living nearly for 20 years. Till now, a portion of the godown was earmarked for them and this constituted the refugee camp.

Originally, 56 cents were set apart for the refugees. This could accommodate only 42 families. After the present government assumed office, the Agriculture Department, the owner of the land, agreed to provide 49 cents more for the remaining 33 families, the officials said, adding that 105 cents of land was transferred to the Rehabilitation Department.

The Kattumannarkoil housing project was implemented with the sponsorship of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), an overseas relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic community in the U.S.

The officials clarified that a specific undertaking is obtained from the CRS or any other such organisation that no religious work will be undertaken in the camp areas.

In addition, the CRS had funded the construction of 251 houses for the refugees in Tirunelveli and Tiruppur districts. At present, the construction of 75 houses in Salem was nearing completion while the foundation work for 86 houses had begun in Chinnasalem of Villupuram district. In the next financial year, one more camp in Cuddalore might be covered by the CRS.

Another NGO involved in the housing programme is Adra India, taking care of 278 houses in Dharmapuri, Tiruppur, Sivagangai and Tirunelveli districts. Besides, numerous refugees' houses had been repaired by the organisation. The officials said that the refugees provide the labour component in all housing projects and are paid wages for their work. The State government provides land and new units are located on the premises of the existing refugee camps. Their execution is monitored by the Rehabilitation Department and officials of the respective district administration.