• Ranajayapura Houses Not Built By Api Venuwen Api Fund, But on BoC Loan
• Government Reduced Amount For House From Rs. 1.4mn To Rs. 800,000
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Soldiers and their families who have been allocated houses in the Ranajayapura housing scheme in Ipalogama, Anuradhapura are up in arms against the government’s decision to deduct Rs. 4,000 from the soldiers’ monthly salary as installment for the houses in the scheme, each valued at Rs. 800,000.
The Defence Ministry has built 1,509 houses in the Ranajayapura housing scheme to be distributed among personnel from the three armed forces who have fought in the war against the LTTE.
The families of the soldiers last Monday (June 28) protested after being informed by Defence Ministry officials that a sum of Rs. 4,000 would be deducted from the monthly salaries’ of the soldiers for a period of 200 months (17 years).
Contrary to what has been stated in the affidavits handed to the soldiers and their families at Ranajayapura, the government claims that the houses were not built by the Api Venuwen Api Fund, but by a loan from a state bank.
A Defence Ministry official on condition of anonymity told The Sunday Leader that Ranajayapura was not built using monies in the Api Venuwen Api Fund, but using monies received through a loan taken from the Bank of Ceylon (BoC) to the tune of Rs. 2,112 million which is the total cost of the project.
“That is why the soldiers have to pay for the houses. The loan has to be paid,” the official said, adding that the recipients of houses were aware that they had to pay for the houses.
Military Spokesperson Brigadier Ubhaya Medawala explained that the Army on October 31, 2007, had issued a circular to all the regiments stating that the houses in the Ranajayapura scheme would be given on payment and that the applicants would have to make a monthly payment for the house if selected.
Brigadier Medawala said that the value of each house in the Ranajayapura housing scheme, is Rs. 1.4 million. But this amount Medawala maintained had been reduced to Rs. 800,000 by the government to minimise the amount of money a soldier would have to pay to secure the house.
“Although the cost of each house is Rs. 1.4 million for a house, it was reduced to Rs. 800,000 to help the soldiers,” he said.
Medawala told The Sunday Leader that the soldiers who had applied for the houses in Ranajayapura had been informed through the respective regimental headquarters about the procedure involved in securing a house in the scheme.
“The people were aware that they had to pay for the house,” he said.
When asked about the allegation that the houses in Ranajayapura are incomplete and are of inferior quality, Medawala admitted there were still some improvements that needed to be done, but that the scheme was built on a model village concept.