By Kelum Bandara
The government had transferred 200 tractors to two state institutions out of a total of 500 tractors donated by India for the use of war affected farmers in the North, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) charged in Parliament yesterday.
The Subject Minister denying the allegations said that the tractors were being used for the preparation of lands for coconut cultivations in these areas.
TNA National List MP M.A.Sumanthiran said that 100 tractors had been given to the Coconut Development Board and another 100 to the State Cashew Corporation.
Mr. Sumanthiran said that another 100 tractors had been arranged to be sent to the south without giving to farmers.
The government has given only 38 tractors to agricultural organizations in Jaffna and another 38 to some such organizations in Mullaitivu, he said. However, he did not detail what happened to the remaining 124 tractors.
The TNA MP asked why the government had done so to a donation made by a friendly neighour for the benefit of ordinary farmers in the North where around 10,000 tractors were destroyed due to the war. While thanking India for offering to build 50,000 housing units for the people in the North, he said that the project was yet to take off the ground despite the foundation stone being laid some time ago for the pilot project of constructing 1000 housing units, during the visit of Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.
He said that this was a pledge made more than a year ago.
"If they take such a long time to identify the first batch of 1000 beneficiaries, how long will they take to identify 50,000 beneficiaries? Is that 50,000 years?” he asked.
Coconut Development Minister Jagath Pushpakumara replied that the 100 tractors taken over by the Coconut Development Board were being used for the preparation of lands for coconut cultivations in these areas. “We release these tractors for farmers at a concessionary rate to be used in preparation of lands. We have taken numerous steps to improve coconut production in the North. We will improve the conditions at nurseries there. As the subject minister, I visited Palai, Atchchuveli and Karainagar to seek the possibility of reviving the coconut industry, he said. ~ courtesy: Daily Mirror ~