|Tuesday, 11 January 2005|
Government will build new homes for old - President
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has appealed to tsunami victims against making any hasty attempt to reconstruct their damaged homes within a 200-metre limit from the sea shore adding that such attempts will be declared illegal.
"The Government will enforce this law strictly, considering the safety of the people", the President said at a media interview yesterday at the Presidential Secretariat.
President Kumaratunga said that the victims will be provided with housing
units 200 metres away from the coast at Government expense.
She said the Government has received information that the affected people have already started rebuilding their houses within this limit and requested them not to do so as the Government is ready to provide them the necessary lands and houses 200 metres from the shoreline.
"We believe that the process of constructing new houses for the homeless can be completed within three to four months", the President added.
She said the Government has already found State lands needed to reconstruct the houses for the people affected by the tsunami disaster.
"We have prepared plans to provide lands for those who want to have separate houses and to construct new houses for others at State expense", the President added. She said three storeyed flats will be constructed for the homeless people in the Galle and Matara districts due to the inadequacy of lands in the two districts while people in other districts including the North East will be provided with separate housing units.
President Kumaratunga also said the Government will prepare a separate programme for the fishermen to protect their boats despite they being resettled 200 metres away from the coast.
She said the Urban Development Authority and the National Housing Development Authority will come up with their plans by January 15 and to start the reconstruction process by January 20 after allocating funds for the projects.
"We don't want to just repair the destroyed areas as they are. We will take this opportunity to reconstruct the damaged infrastructure in a well planned manner", she added.
She said the Galle town will be reconstructed under a new town plan while the southern rail track will be relocated close to Southern highway.
President Kumaratunga said the LTTE Political Wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan has responded positively to the Government that they were ready to discuss the reconstruction programme with the Government officials.
"We both agreed that we should not confuse the discussions regarding the reconstruction process with peace talks", President Kumaratunga said.
"I don't think the LTTE will oppose the reconstruction of the devastated areas in the tsunami disaster", she added.
She added that all reconstruction plans will be available on the Centre for National Operation web-site for donors to make their contributions.
She said the Government and the International NGOs are working closely in the reconstruction process and requests donors to contribute towards the reconstruction process through the Government.
"I'll adopt a Tsunami Tamil girl victim
A visibly moved President yesterday said that she will adopt a Tamil girl victim of the Tsunami disaster.
The President said she was totally against the idea of bringing up such children in orphanages.
Produced by Lake House