May Day re-opening for Gnanam hotel - Army says no permanent base in Jaffna town

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Gnanam hotel, situated at Clock Tower Road, Jaffna is now open for public after being occupied by the Army for 24 years. Jaffna Security Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Mahinda Hathurusinghe participated at the brief re-opening ceremony on May Day along with some invitees from Colombo and Jaffna.

The army moved in to Gnanam hotel shortly after troops regained Jaffna in Dec. 1995 during Operation ‘Riviresa’. For want of adequate accommodation, the Army occupied the building at a monthly rent of Rs. 40,000.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Ubaya Medawela yesterday told The Island that the Army released Gnanam hotel for public use on Apr 20. 2010. "We pulled out of Gnanam four months later. The Army took over both Gnanam and Subash hotels situated close to Jaffna hospital in Dec 1995. The 51 Division set up its headquarters at Subash, while Gnanam was used to accommodate officers and men. We released Subash hotel recently," Maj. Gen Medawela said.

Responding to a query, Maj. Gen. Medawela said that with the vacation of Gnanam and Subash hotels, the Army no longer maintained a permanent base in the Jaffna town. According to him, as part of the overall post-war re-deployment strategy, the 51 Division headquarters had been established at Kopay.

The military spokesman said that both hotels had been located within the Jaffna High Security Zone (HSZ).

An army spokesman in Jaffna said that there were 30 comfortable rooms. Among the facilities available were internet services, the official said, adding that the management was in the process of arranging for tour guides and transport for those interested in seeing the peninsula.

Subash is yet to be re-opened for public.

Dhananjaya Bandara, resident manager of Gnanam hotel told The Island that with the dawn of peace tourism could boom in the peninsula. Responding to a query, he said that a single room could be had for Rs 2,750, double room for Rs 3,300, triple room for Rs. 3,850 and a large room which could accommodate four persons for Rs. 4,400. Bandara said that he could be contacted on 0772-834514.

Army headquarters said that gradual vacation of public buildings had been made possible by the use of pre-fabricated Chinese buildings to accommodate troops deployed in the Jaffna peninsula.

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