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Last modified on: 12/29/2012 10:02:12 AM Reconstruction and resettlement in the Northern Province

Reconstruction and resettlement in the Northern Province:

The Big Momentum - Part III

[Continued from December 26]

Altogether, there were 1,020 schools in the 12 educational zones in the Northern Province. By May 2009, most of the schools except in locations like Jaffna, Manner and Vavuniya Town were damaged. Many of the school buildings were without roofs. Since 2009, 1,630 school buildings have been repaired by the GoSL at a total cost of Rs. 1,341 mn. Presently, 990 schools are functioning and all the children are provided with school facilities.

S B Divaratne

At present, there are 13,963 teachers working in the Northern Province catering to 260.582 student population in the area.

Construction of permanent houses were arranged using owner-driven methodology to ensure beneficiary participation and quality. A total of 78,144 permanent houses are scheduled to be completed out of which 27,983 houses have already been completed. Through the North East Housing Rehabilitation Programme (NEHRP) the GoSL has constructed nearly 22,635 houses. A major programme under this project was funded by the government of India through which 38,000 houses are planned to be constructed in the Northern Province. Already, 1,000 houses have been completed. In addition, UN-HABITAT, European Union and the Sri Lanka Red Cross have made significant contributions for construction of permanent houses.

Rehabilitation of Road and Railway

The GoSL made substantive investment to improve connectivity. All major highways are being rehabilitated. Those include major roads, provincial roads and rural roads. The total investment for road sector is Rs. 75,071mn. The number of motor vehicles registered for the province has increased from 47,031 in 2009 to 62,644 in 2011. Three major bridges that were destroyed by the LTTE during the war i.e., Mannar Bridge, Sangupiddly Bridge, and Aruvi Aru bridge have been reconstructed with a massive investment by the government. In addition, rehabilitation of the Northern railway network has begun with a US $ 650mn loan under assistance from government of India.

The GoSL, accorded high priority for restoration of water and sanitation sector. Already, Rs. 29.9bn has been invested to improve water and sanitation in the whole of the Northern Province. A major water supply and sanitation project to relieve the water problem in Jaffna is underway at a cost of Rs. 25bn. This project will provide water facility to Kilinochchi as well.

Restoration of electricity

Consequent to the liberation of the Vanni District, restoration of electricity services and electrification was considered a top priority. At present, 9 mega projects are in operation with an investment of Rs. 13.2bn. This includes transmission, augmentation and rehabilitation of electricity network in the Province. Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu districts have been supplied with electricity after a span of 30 years. Electrification of these two districts was 29 percent and 23 percent respectively. The revenue from electricity supply has risen from Rs. 1,644mn in 2009 to Rs. 2,182mn in 2010. Number of consumer accounts has risen from 132,331 in 2009 to 142,611 in 2011. the total investment for ongoing projects funded by JICA, ADB and the Ceylon Electricity Board amount to Rs. 13.6bn. This includes Vavuniya, Kililnochchi Transmission line, Kilinochchi Chunnakam Transmission line and also augmentation of Vavuniya Grid Station.

Revival of agriculture

Agriculture is the most vital economic sector providing basic food security and a source of livelihood for 80 percent of the population in the Province. The revival of agriculture commenced with restoration of the entire irrigation network, clearing of abandoned paddy lands, supply of imputes and agricultural machinery. A considerable investment was made on revival of agriculture sector thereby bringing 90 percent of the 180,000 acres of abandoned paddy lands under cultivation. Every resettled family was given seed paddy and subsidized fertilizer for all the agricultural seasons commencing 2009. Initially, 99,173 acres were brought under paddy cultivation during 2009 - 2010 Maha with a production of 143,579 metric tons. The extent of land utilized for agriculture increased to 193,202 acres in 2010 - 2011. A production of 212,722 metric tons of paddy was recorded during this period. It is an amazing performance indeed, just two years after resettlement.

Rehabilitation of irrigation network

Equal education facilities for Northern children

Northern Province is largely an agricultural region in the dry zone of Sri Lanka having both rain-fed and irrigation farming. There are over 2,000 irrigation tanks of major, medium and minor categories in the Province. A concerted effort was made to rehabilitate the irrigation network. There are about 189,000 acres of land under irrigated agriculture in the Province consisting of schemes under central and provincial administration and minor irrigation under the Agrarian Services Development Department. A total commitment of Rs. 6,333.9mn was made by the government for rehabilitation of the entire irrigation network.

Fisheries sector

Fishery is the second most important economic activity following agriculture in the Northern Province. Almost one third of the coastal line is in the Northern Province and the annual average production of fish had been recorded at 75,000 metric tons. The coastal fisheries have experienced widespread destruction of production assets and serious damages to the supporting infrastructure. The government assistance under its 180-Day accelerated programme included provision of fishing gear and other equipment for sea, lagoon and inland fishing.

Reactivation of district fisheries co-operatives facilitated the delivery of services for the fishermen. Reconstruction of deteriorated infrastructure was also considered a priority. Plans for improvements to the fisheries sector include Inland Fisheries and Aqua Culture. The Sri Lanka Army performed a significant role in securing and repairing of boats handed over to fishermen. A total fishing fleet has now been increased to 11,225 as a result of these efforts. The fish production in the Northern Province has risen from 15,250 metric tons in 2007 to 48,520 metric tons in year 2011 and the target of the Ministry of fisheries is to increase production to harvest 78,000 metric tons in year 2013. In year 2011, the contribution of the Northern Province to the notational fish production is 11 percent compared to 5 percent in 2007. The Ministry operates nearly 30 freezer trucks from Northern Province to Colombo per day.

Banking sector

At present, 20 state and private banks are operating in the Northern region. Nearly loans amounting to Rs. 4,614mn have been granted to 36,000 beneficiaries under different credit lines implemented by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka up to end of 2011.

Private investment

Private sector has already begun to move to be emerging region of the North. There are 23 different projects approved by the Board of Investment (BOI) for a total investment of Rs. 68,268.7mn. In addition nine hotel projects with 328 rooms have been approved at an investment of Rs. 2,217mn.

The movement of the private sector in the Northern Region is a direct result of prevalence of peace after 2009, which is the biggest incentive provided by the government to the private sector.

Acknowledgement

The GoSL is determined to maintain the impressive gains made in resettlement through confidence building among the international community.

It continues to maintain the same commitments with transparency and take forward the positive records towards creating sustainability in the process of re-building the Northern Province.

It is observed that the people in the Northern Province are satisfied with the achievements of the ongoing efforts for reconstruction.

The PTF is grateful to the President for this extraordinary leadership and unwavering commitment to rebuild the Northern Province. The commitment of Basil Rajapaksa MP, Minister of Economic Development and the Chairman of the PTF, in spearheading rehabilitation, development and reconstruction activities under his constant supervision and guidance in fulfilling the enormous task of rebuilding the Northern Province has been the hallmark of success. The efforts of the PTF were adequately supported by the Provincial Administration headed by Governor, Northern Province and the respective line ministries. The timely advice and cooperation extended by Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President contributed immensely for the success of this programme. It was possible to achieve significant progress, more particularly in implementation of 180 Day Programme and the early recovery phase of the resettled families through relentless efforts and devotion of all District Secretaries, Divisional Secretaries and the other districts staff.

Contribution of the Sri Lanka Army in the whole process of resettlement beginning from the demining operations and coordinating humanitarians and recovery efforts in all the districts has been a source of strength in effectively implementing the resettlement programme. The humanitarian assistance received from UN Agencies and I/NGOs during humanitarian and early recovery phase of resettlement also contributed to strengthen the government's initiatives during the first phase of resettlement.

The development made so far provided a tremendous impetus for the private sector to move in and that is the biggest contribution made by the government for the private sector investment in the Province. The PTF takes pride having steered the development momentum, whilst coordinating the efforts of all stakeholders in this national endeavour to rebuild the Northern Province.

Courtesy : Daily News

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