Tuesday, 26 August 2014 01:41
In an ongoing endeavour to enhance the living standards and lifestyles of estate workers, the Plantersâ€™ Association of Ceylon announced the latest housing scheme for estate workers across the seven regions of Hatton, Nuwara Eliya, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Galle, Kandy and Badulla, being implemented by the Plantation Human Development Trust (PHDT), a tripartite organisation of Regional Plantation Companies (RPCâ€™s), Government of Sri Lanka and Plantation Trade Unions.
Under this scheme, a total of 855 individual housing units will be built and offered to the estate workers before the end of 2014. So far, 60% of total worker dwellings on RPC managed estates have been newly constructed or upgraded by re-roofing and other infrastructure enhancements.
Modular in design, each new house is on a seven perch block of land with a built up area of 550 square feet at a cost of Rs. 515,000 each. The house comes complete with 2 bedrooms, a sitting area, kitchen, toilet and pipe borne water. Surrounding each house is an area of three perches that could be used for home gardening. In addition to the new housing is the provision of Rs. 94 million for re-roofing of 1,700 units of present accommodation, which is a temporary, stop- gap measure until new housing units are built.
Beneficiaries of the new houses, who eventually own them, get involved in the construction from the outset by doing some of the manual labour tasks. Loans are also made available to enable part contribution towards cost of construction, all of which play a pivotal role in establishing an ownership mindset. Social benefits of improved health and hygiene, privacy for education, etc. promotes unity among family members while creating an atmosphere of dignity and self respect.
The Regional Plantation Companies are confident that the housing initiative together with other lifestyle benefits that have been offered to their workers are key to setting new standards in the Sri Lankan plantation industry, transforming it into a modern and better integrated system that will attract and retain local worker talent.
â€śHuman resource is the backbone of the industry and the various housing projects re-iterate our commitment to improving the lifestyle and welfare of our worker population,â€ť explained Plantersâ€™ Association of Ceylon Chairman Roshan Rajudurai. â€śWe are confident that socially responsible practices that have been and are being offered on RPC estates will bring about a transformation of estate life and we expect to see cumulative benefits in the coming years as a result of this scheme and other programs.â€ť
Rajudurai noted that the plantation companies in Sri Lanka have continuously underscored the importance of enhancing lifestyles on estates and are doing their utmost in providing housing for the 200,000 plus worker population which has a spill-over benefit to the over one million residents, most of whom are employed elsewhere.
â€śWith the tea industry being the third largest contributor to the national economy, the challenge of maintaining a productive workforce is vital and we need all stakeholders to know the infrastructure developments made on the estates and to view the industry positively,â€ť he said.
The collaborative housing effort, initiated by Ministry of Livestock and Rural Community Development and implemented by PHDT together with Regional Plantation Companies, will ensure that sustainable practices on the estates go beyond operational efficiencies to providing enhanced lifestyles, thereby maintaining and retaining a productive and effective local workforce as well as attracting potential workers to the sector.