- Defence Ministry Initiative For Colombo Tamils
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
The Defence Ministry has offered plots of land in the North to Tamil families residing in temporary houses in the Colombo City.
This initiative by the Defence Ministry is part of a joint effort with the Urban Development Authority which it also oversees to relocate close to 60,000 families living on state owned lands in the Colombo City.
The Defence Ministry has instructed the governing party members in the local government bodies within the Colombo City limits to inform Tamil families living in slums on state owned lands in their respective areas of the government’s offer.
A UPFA local government member requesting anonymity said they were instructed at a meeting held at the Defence Ministry on the Colombo City development plan to prepare a list of names of Tamil families who wished to return to their original hometowns in the North.
“We were asked to inform the Tamil families who had arrived in Colombo from the North during the conflict that the government was prepared to provide them with land in the North for them to return to, if they so wished,” the local government member said.
The Sunday Leader learns that the Kolonnawa Urban Council members have been asked to inform the Tamil residents in Sathammage Watte and Vadullawatte in the Orugodawatte area of the government’s offer.
An official from the Kolonnawa Urban Council told The Sunday Leader that there are between 3,000 to 4,000 families within the city limits.
He said that most of these families have been living in these areas for over 20 years.
“These families were even given loans amounting to Rs. 17,500 during President Premadasa’s time and the common amenities have been provided by the Urban Council,” he said, also speaking on conditions of anonymity.
The government in the meantime, has launched a housing scheme called Sudunelumpura in the Salamulla area in Colombo to house some of the residents who are to be relocated.
“There are a few families who have said they preferred to return to the North,” the local government member said. However, when asked as to how many Tamil families have come forward to accept the government’s offer, he said he could not give an exact number as the survey is still being carried out.
The UDA meanwhile is conducting a survey to gather information about the families that are to be relocated
The UDA has also said the government has identified lands in Homagama, Gampaha and Kalutara to relocate families that are to be moved out from the Colombo City.