South Asia

Jaffna industrial estate promises jobs

Offering Promise: The Atchuveli Industrial Estate, near Jaffna, offers some hope for locals who lost thei rhomes and livelihoods during Sri Lanka's civil war. Photo Meera Srinivasan.  

After over two decades of remaining shut over Sri Lanka’s civil war, a once-thriving industrial zone near Jaffna is abuzz with activity yet again.

The Atchchuvely Industrial Estate, which India has helped revive with a Rs.10 crore investment, seems to have raised expectations among locals who have returned to their village after being dislocated multiple times during the war.

V. Sivasubramanian remembers the days he toiled at the coconut oil factory in Atchchuvely in Jaffna in the 1980s, earning LKR 12 (about Rs. 6) as daily wage.

“With that wage, me, my wife and our four children could somehow manage. But today, even with 1,000 rupees it is difficult to run a family, that is how expensive things have become,” said the 58 year old, now working at a tea shop adjoining the estate area.

“When I returned to my village here after years of being displaced, I saw that nothing was left. I hope they give locals jobs now,” Mr. Sivasubramanian said when The Hindu spoke to him there some weeks ago.

Rise and fall

The estate set up in 1971 was active until the late 1980s with industrial units producing a range of products from coconut oil to stainless steel metal and asbestos sheets. Towards the late 1980s, the situation became turbulent and the market had also weakened. The industrial estate wound down gradually. Following intensive shelling in the early 1990s, it was virtually destroyed.

A small and quiet town located about 20 km from Jaffna, Atchchuvely has a cluster of villages. Though many original residents have returned to their villages, finding jobs has not been easy after the war ended.

Most of them are engaged in daily wage jobs in small vegetable farms, but end up borrowing money to make ends meet, locals said.

Jobs to 12,000 people

The project, spanning 25 acres in its first phase of development, seeks to provide employment to 2,000 people directly and around 10,000 people indirectly, according to Indian High Commission officials here.

Following revival now, the Industrial Development Board of Sri Lanka will manage the estate, opening it up for potential investors from within and outside Sri Lanka.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 7:29:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/jaffna-industrial-estate-promises-jobs/article6357567.ece

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