- Published on Sunday, 15 July 2012 09:05
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Indian Government has commenced its program of building houses for displaced persons in the north and east.The High Commission of India signed agreements to award work to four Implementing Agencies (IAs), viz., UN-HABITAT, International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in partnership with Sri Lanka Red Cross, National Housing Development Agency (NHDA) of the Government of Sri Lanka and Habitat for Humanity, Sri Lanka signaling the launch of the next phase of the Indian Housing Project for 43,000 housing units in Northern and Eastern Provinces. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development and Ashok K. Kantha, High Commissioner of India.
Soon after the war the Indian Government came forward to construct 50,000 housing units for the war displaced in the north and the east and for the people of Indian origins in the central hill. A pilot project of 1000 houses built were handed over to occupants during the visit of a Indian delegation to Sri Lanka headed by the Leader of the Opposition of the Lokh Sabha.
The four IAs have been selected on the basis of their experience and expertise in implementing similar projects in Sri Lanka, through a competitive process following the Expression of Interest route. The signing of these agreements paves the way to commence immediate implementation of this Project on the ground.
In this phase, which will be implemented under the owner-driven model, beneficiaries will be selected through a transparent and norm-based process on the basis of clearly defined and objective criteria. These beneficiaries will undertake the construction/repair of their houses with necessary technical assistance and support provided by the IAs. Funds will be released directly by the High Commission of India into bank accounts of beneficiaries based on certification of progress of work. An owner-driven approach has been followed on the basis of preferences of the Government of Sri Lanka, people on the ground as well as project objectives of contributing to livelihood activities.
This phase is expected to meet bulk of the housing needs in these areas. In the last phase of the project, which is also expected to commence soon, about 6,000 houses will be directly built by construction agencies for people from most vulnerable sections of IDPs in the Northern and Eastern provinces and for estate sector in the Central and Uva Provinces.
The construction of 43,000 houses for resettlement and rehabilitation of IDPs in Northern and Eastern Provinces is part of the overall commitment to build 50,000 houses announced by Prime Minister H.E. Dr. Manmohan Singh during the State visit of the President of Sri Lanka to India H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa in June 2010. This commitment also formed part of the Joint Declaration issued in New Delhi during the visit.
In order to ensure early operationalisation of this commitment, a pilot phase for the construction of 1,000 houses in the five districts of Northern Province was launched in November 2010. 950 houses have already been completed under the pilot phase, most of which have been handed over to beneficiaries. The remaining houses will be completed by the end of this month.
The Indian Housing Project is being carried out in close consultation with and cooperation of the Government of Sri Lanka. A Memorandum of Understanding was earlier signed on 18 January 2012 between the two governments covering various aspects of project implementation. The entire Project is under full grant assistance of the Government of India with a total outlay of SLR 30.6 billion (approx. US $ 270 million).
pix by Chaminda Hittatiya