Resettlement Minister takes more than promises to gale damaged Menik Farm

By Madura Ranwala

Minister of Resettlement Gunaratna Weerakoon yesterday empathised with the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) whose temporary shelters were blown away by a gale last weekend and promised to settle them in permanent houses within six months.

He said that even on Monday evening there was a gale due to the monsoon season and some houses which had been repaired were damaged as it was a location without cover.

Minister Gunaratne told The Island that he was deeply saddened by the situation of those innocent people who escaped from the clutches of the LTTE which used them as human shield.

He said that he arrived at the centre yesterday afternoon to see to their needs in person and would stay two days there. About 300 shelters were repaired out of the 700 which were damaged.

In six month’s time, those living in the Menik Farm Welfare Centre would be resettled in Kompavil and they could even own their lands which they possessed earlier, in that case one could be an owner of two lands, the minister said.

"We are granting them a house with 40 perches along with another 40 perches of land for cultivation. A house is built at a cost of Rs. 285,000," he added.

With the assistance of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who had deployed 150 personnel from Engineering Regiment of the Sri Lanka Army, the construction work became easy and economical, he said.

He said that it was difficult to convince IDPs to resettle in another location as some of them had only a single member per family. But the ministry was successful in resettling about 206 families last month after taking their written consent to move to permanent houses at Kompawil (an area of 600 acres) in the Pudukuduirippu area.

"I know how hard it is to live in a camp like this, because it is like living in a quagmire after such a natural disaster. Therefore, I shall act swiftly to settle them in a permanent house of their own while providing them with basic infrastructure facilities," the Minister said.

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