(File photo of a IDP camp in Jaffna)
The Government has allocated Rs 165 million to resettle people still housed in camps for Internally Displaced People (IDP), in the Jaffna district, with the recent Cabinet approval to build 65,000 houses in the district, Minister of Resettlement and Rehabilitation D.M. Swaminathan informed Parliament on Thursday.
Responding to a question posed by Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) leader Douglas Devananda in Parliament, Minister Swaminathan said that 1,318 families consisting of 4,737 people, are living in 32 IDP camps in Jaffna district alone.Minister Swaminathan said his ministry, along with the Women’s Affairs Ministry, has taken steps to set up nursery schools and livelihood programmes for women-headed families, to support them in the resettlement process.
Soon after the new government took office in January, 1,033 acres in the Jaffna district were handed over to their rightful owners who had been living in IDP camps and rented houses for nearly two decades. According to the District Planning office at the Jaffna District Secretariat, 1,098 persons have registered to resettle in lands which comprises the Valalai Grama Niladhari Division of the Valikamam East Divisional Secretariat Division. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) came forward to build 370 semi permanent houses for families willing to resettle in the released lands.
The second phase of land-returns in the Jaffna district took place when President Maithripala Sirisena symbolically distributed title deeds of 613 acres of land in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts used by the military, to their original owners and to the relevant institutions.
Director- Planning, Kilinochchi District Secretariat, S. Mohanabavan told the Sunday Times that 39 rightful owners have been identified to date, with the symbolical hand over by the President this week, of the title deeds for their respective plots.
“Around 400 acres of land were released in the Kilinochchi district alone, but still we are in the process of identifying private lands to their rightful owners and State lands,” he said.
According to the military, 11,639 acres were under the control of the security forces during the war, of which 6,152 acres in the Palaly area is currently maintained by the Sri Lanka Army and the Sri Lanka Air Force, as a High Security Zone.