Mines hamper Vakarai resettlement
The resettlement process in Vakarai is rather slow due to the heavy mining around the area despite the relief items being ready for air lifting for the people after resettlement, Batticaloa District Additional GA K. Maheson said.
“Though there is a delay progress has been made in de-mining. We are within the targeted time frame despite the difficulties. People may be resettled within another 20 days in the cleared areas of Vakarai,” he added.
Vakarai Resettlement Civil Coordinator Major Berty Perera confirmed that there would be some delay in resettling due to the de-mining.
“Most of the areas are mined, but Palchenai, Kathiraveli, Paninchankerny and the Western lagoon areas were heavily mined. The LTTE defence lines were closer to each other and as a result progress is slow. But steady clearance is on the way,” he said.
Major Perera added that the de-mining and the installation of basic infrastructure would take another two to three weeks.
“Resettlement will be done in three stages. During the first stage, seven Grama Niladhari (GN) divisions will be cleared and resettled and during the second and third stages three and two GN divisions will be cleared. Nearly 2,879 families will be resettled under the first stage,” he said.
A Vakaria Divisional Secretariat official said they were unable to move into their offices as the security forces were still occupying the premises. However, Major Perera said that they were not occupying the Divisional Secretariat though they have a camp beside the Government office.
“We had to hand over the Government offices to bring normalcy in the Vakarai Division. Electricity will be provided within this week and health services will be ready as well,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Centre’s Assistant Director G.M.J.K. Gunawardena said nearly rupees two million had been spent in clearing Vakarai.
“We have enough funds and also a warehouse in Welikanda with the necessary relief items. Once the mines are cleared we will provide relief for the resettled people,” he said.