(War destroyed thousands of houses in the North)
In an unexpected turn of events, the Sri Lankan government has now decided to temporarily suspend the project to construct 65000 houses for IDPs in the Northern province.
Before making the sudden decision on Wednesday morning, the government almost finalized an agreement with Arcelormittal – an Indian steel giant owned by businessman Lakshmi Mittal – with regard to the construction of houses.
However, highly placed government sources said a special committee, headed by the President and the Prime Minister, would review the project.
The project came under criticism from various sections on many grounds. While C.V. Wigneswaran, Northern Province Chief Minister, questioned the project on the alleged poor quality of sample houses, several local contractors tried secure a stake in the deal.
Among the local contractors who tried to secure a stake were MTD Walkers headed by businessman Jehan amaratunga and Daya Gamage Constructions, owned by Primary Industries Minister Daya Gamage.
It was widely speculated that MTD Walkers was heavily backed by an influential Cabinet minister who had close links with the Prime Minister.
To arrive at a ‘compromise agreement’ with local contractors, the government even promised local bidders that they would be given a chance to build 65000 houses elsewhere.
“With this fresh development, it is now clear that the view of the political arms backing local contractors has prevailed,” a senior Cabinet Minister told Asian Mirror on Wednesday.