Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province Governor refutes criticism of resettlement of displaced people

Published - May 08, 2015 05:50 am IST - COLOMBO:

Austin Fernando, Governor of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, has strongly refuted criticism made in certain quarters about the Colombo’s decision to resettle internally-displaced people (IDP), mostly Tamils, in Sampur town.

According to Mr. Fernando, critics of the government sought to portray the move as one being carried out at the behest of Indian government or as “sell out to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam” or “politically motivated.”

Of 1,272 IDP families, 447 families were resettled, “all during the previous [Mahinda Rajapaksa] government,” the Governor said, replying in the negative when asked if any family had been resettled after the new government came to power in January.  

Honouring commitment

The remaining 825 families would be covered once the Naval Recruit Training Centre is relocated in six months.  

The plan was to ensure resettlement of 579 families “at one go” to the Naval base area, also called Vidura camp area, he said, adding that the present government was only seeking to honour the commitments made by the previous regime in the Supreme Court and Parliament.

Making a power point presentation, the Governor showed visuals to underscore the point that those who had been displaced from their original areas were living in “miserable conditions.”   Pointing out that the people had been experiencing such conditions nearly for 10 yeas, he wondered: “Do you think that we can be there in these tents even for 10 minutes?”

In a move aimed at benefiting Tamils who lost their lands for a heavy industrial zone project in Sampur, a source in the government said that the President had given his clearance to cancel the grant of 818 acres for the project and return it to the old landowners.  An order was issued on Thursday night, the source added. 

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