B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The government of Sri Lanka on Saturday announced thatrepresentatives of local and foreign Non-Government Organisations (NGOs),who intend to enter former conflict areas in the north to transport goodsand conduct other activities, should obtain prior permission from thePresidential Task Force (PTF).

The PTF, whose Secretary is the Essential Services Commissioner S.B.Divaratne, has been tasked with coordinating all matters related torehabilitation and resettlement of nearly three lakh war displaced andreconstruction in the war ravaged areas.

Speaking at the Police Special Task Force (STF) command headquarters atAmpara in the Eastern province, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa saidsecurity was essential to sustaining freedom.

Now we are faced with new challenges to restoring normalcy to the innocentpeople who were rescued from the LTTE's clutches and engaging in developmentand infrastructure building activities in both North and East. Yet, we haveto secure the liberty we gained and this includes involving all sections ofthe society, he said.

The visit was to pay tribute to STF personnel for their role in Eelam WarIV. Mr. Rajapaksa said over 500 STF officers died and a similar numbersustained injuries during the course of the war.

In another development, the government said Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thero,chief of the Malwatte Chapter of the Siamese sect, visited the relief campat Chettikulam in Vavuniya district on Friday and assured the inmates thatthey would be resettled in their original villages as soon as possible.

The Mahanayaka of Malwatte is the chief monk of the largest Buddhistdenomination in Sri Lanka and his visit, a first for some one who has heldthis office, is considered to be a historical one,' said the statement.

He told a group of displaced people that much work was left to be carriedout by the security forces to make the villages suitable for normal life andpraised the tremendous work carried out by the Defence Secretary and thearmed forces to save the lives of the civilians.