Mannar (Sri Lanka), Oct 2: India on Tuesday launched a Rs 1,300-crore housing project in northern Sri Lanka to build new homes for about 43,000 ethnic Tamil families who were displaced during the civil war.
The project, the second phase of the housing scheme, was launched in the districts of Mannar, Mullaitivu and Jaffna on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi's 143rd birth anniversary.
Lanka's Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa and Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Ashok K Kantha were present on the launching occasion. Displaced Tamils and Muslims numbering around 1,500 received certificates on Tuesday to build houses in land either owned by themselves or by the government. Kantha said that 10,000 houses will be built by August next year.
Both the Lankan minister and the Indian High Commissioner handed over the certificates to the beneficiaries at the Muslim dominated Mallavi in Mullaitivu, Periyamadhu in Mannar district and Eluthumadduval in Jaffna district and also spoke to them.
The project is part of India's commitment to build 50,000 houses for the displaced Tamils as was announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the visit of Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to India in June 2010. India has already built 10,000 houses for such people in northern Sri Lanka during its pilot project, which was completed in July.
Under the scheme, the beneficiaries would receive 5.5 lakh Sri Lankan rupees each to set up their houses and the funds would be released in four instalments by the Indian High Commission after the criterion like completion of the first phase of construction. Kantha said the first instalment of Rs 1 lakh has already been disbursed. Rajapaksa praised the Indian effort, saying the housing project has seen an unprecedented impact.