Colombo to go ahead with housing project

March 29, 2016 08:17 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 04:40 am IST - COLOMBO:

Dismissing objections to the project of building 65,000 houses in the civil war-hit Northern and Eastern Provinces, the Sri Lankan government has decided to go ahead.

In an interview with The Hindu at his office on Monday evening, Minister in charge of Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Prison Reforms D.M. Swaminathan said the project would take off “in a couple of months.” At present, the process of receiving feedback on the project was under way and this would go on for a few more days.  Two model houses had been put up in Jaffna.

11,000 houses planned

This year, 11,000 houses had been planned for construction with 18,000 houses annually for the next three years.

Asked whether he planned to bring around critics of the project, he replied: “Why should I? We are consulting with people [over the project]. So far, we have received 14,000 applications [to be covered under the project].”  The project had the approval of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, he pointed out.

30-year guarantee period

On issues such as concerning durability and servicing of houses, the Minister said the executing agency of the project, ArcelorMittal Construction, France, would open an office in Jaffna to address the issues.

The guarantee period of the houses would be 30 years and each house would have lifetime of 60 years to 70 years.  “They [the executing agency] are not going to run away,” he said.

Asked whether beneficiaries would be able to carry out alterations or make additions, the Minister answered in the affirmative and said the company’s assistance could be taken.  “Of course, this will have to be done at the cost of beneficiary.”  

Houses are for gratis

The houses would be provided free of cost to beneficiaries. Priority in allotment of houses would be given to those still living in “welfare centres,” also known as camps of internally displaced persons; women-headed families; those with disabilities due to the civil war; those with missing persons and disappearances and refugee returnees who lost their houses and lived in the camps.   

On the plan for the provision of various amenities to the beneficiaries as part of the package, Mr. Swaminathan said: “Beds, writing tables and cooking gas cylinders are not luxuries. They are basic necessities.”

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