Indian housing project for the war-hit Tamils in Jaffna progressing slowly

An official of Hindustan Prefab explaining to Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai the progress on the pilot housing project for the rehabilitated Tamils at the project site in Palai on Sunday. Behind Mr. Mathai is Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Ashok K. Kantha. Photo: R.K. Radhakrishnan  

In just over a year, Jaffna peninsula has seen the visit of two Foreign Secretaries to the sites of a prestigious Indian housing project. In more than a year, a mere 52 of the 1,000 houses meant for the war-affected Tamils have been built. A total of 50,000 houses are to be built.

The new Foreign Secretary, Ranjan Mathai, and Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Ashok K. Kantha impressed upon the project management consultant Hindustan Prefab and the contractors to expedite work on the project. The contractors have faced a plethora of problems, and the peculiar nature of the project — built with heavy inputs from the beneficiaries — added to the time-lines going haywire.

Mr. Mathai and Mr. Kantha interacted with a few beneficiaries at the site. One of them pointed out that the kitchen did not have a chimney vent — a point that Mr. Mathai raised the moment he walked into a model house a little while earlier — and the fact that they had to walk a long distance to the community well. They said they would be very happy if they get piped water supply. “The house is good. We don't have complaints except the vent,” said one of them.

While progress on the housing scheme left much to be desired, the two other projects that Mr. Mathai visited — the northern railway construction being handled by Indian public sector company IRCON, and the wreck removal project at the Kankasanthurai harbour — were progressing ahead of schedule.

India will expedite the process of giving sanction to remove the additional four wrecks at the Kankasanthurai harbour, Mr. Mathai said.

Initially it was found that there were six wrecks to be removed, four inside and two outside the harbour. Recently, four additional wrecks have been found. Earlier, the government of India, through the Shipping Corporation of India, had awarded a contract for removal and disposal of six wrecks at KKS harbour to Resolve Salvage and Fire (Asia) Pvt. Ltd, Singapore, at a total cost of $19 million (SLRs 2.18 billion).

At a presentation at the KKS harbour, representatives of the firm, Resolve Salvage, requested that the process of sanction for additional wreckages be expedited so that they could complete the work early.

Six stages

The Kankesanthurai Harbour rehabilitation project includes six stages — Preliminary Hydrographic Survey, geotechnical investigations and preparation of Detailed Project Report, Wreck removal and disposal, dredging, rehabilitation of breakwater/pier and construction of new pier with attendant port facilities and Final Hydrographic Survey and preparation of Harbour Chart.

The Preliminary Hydrographic Survey has already been completed in June-July 2010 as part of the preparation for this project. The contract for Geo-technical and Geo-physical studies and preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) has been awarded to RITES Ltd of India. These studies are in progress.


The dredging of the harbour will be undertaken by the Dredging Corporation of India (DCI). Rehabilitation of breakwater/pier and construction of new pier with attendant port facilities will be undertaken in accordance with the approved DPR, which is being prepared by RITES. Final Hydrographic Survey and preparation of Harbour Chart will be taken up as the final stage of work.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 11:32:58 PM |

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