The cabinet of ministers has decided to allocate Rs. 33 billion for rehabilitation and restoration programmes in the districts affected by the recent floods and landslides.
The Presidential Task Force appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to direct and monitor the implementation of a well-coordinated and effective programme for the restoration of affected areas.
This Task Force consisting of relevant cabinet ministers and chief ministers of the affected provinces will implement programmes to restore properties and livelihood of people in all affected districts through the District Secretariats and Chief Secretaries of provinces.
Proposed rehabilitation programmes will be implemented in the flood-affected districts of Batticaloa, Ampara, Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Vavuniya, Mannar, Mullaitivu, and Kilinochchi and in the districts of Badulla, Nuwara-Eliya, Kandy, and Matale that have been affected by heavy rains and landslides.
The Cabinet also has given approval to the District Secretaries and Government Agents of the affected districts to recruit people who lost their livelihoods due to the catastrophic weather to carry out renovation work.
The rehabilitation work will include reconstruction of damaged roads, tanks, tank bunds, and canals and other minor irrigation works.
The persons recruited by the respective Government Agents of the affected provinces will work for four days per week at a rate of Rs. 500 per day for a maximum period of two months.
The government has decided to increase relief rates given to affected people immediately. Accordingly a family of 2 or less will receive Rs.500 per week while a family of 3-4 members will receive Rs. 750 per week. A family of more than 5 members will receive Rs. 1000 per week.
The floods in the North, North Central, and Eastern Provinces have affected over 1.2 million people and left 3,663 houses totally destroyed. Another 23,653 houses have been partially damaged.
The government said the agricultural road network and provincial and national highway network too have been severely damaged. Around 500 tanks, anicuts and several irrigation systems were also damaged, the Cabinet was informed.
The floods have ruined almost 200,000 out of estimated 700,000 hectares of paddy cultivation during this Maha season resulting in an estimated loss of 800,000 metric tonnes of paddy crop. The Maha harvest is expected to fall from 1.8 million to 1.0 million metric tonnes.
To restore the agriculture in the affected districts, the government plans to provide the paddy farmers with seeds free of charge. They will also receive a fertiliser subsidy to purchase fertiliser at a subsidised price in the open market.
Also the fertiliser subsidy already announced for coconut will be extended to cover all vegetable crops, the government announced.
According to the government the loss on livestock sector particularly in Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Ampara, and Polonnaruwa districts is estimated to be Rs 1.922 billion as hordes of farm animals have been washed away by the floods.
Families sheltered in IDP camps reduced to 4,372
By Shezna Shums
The number of camps for the Internally Displaced following the recent rains and floods are rapidly reducing with many of the affected people returning to their homes or going to live with their neighbours or relatives. The number of affected persons has now reduced to less than a million.
According to the latest statistics from the Disaster Management Centre the number of affected people now stands at 978, 587 or 263, 696 families.
The number of IDP camps have also drastically reduced to 153, and continue to provide shelter to 16, 200 persons consisting of 4, 372 families.
The death toll following the rain and floods has risen to 18 with 22 person injured and three persons missing. The number of houses fully damaged is 4, 209 while the number partially damaged is 21, 974.
Displaced to be resettled by end 2011 - Government
COLOMBO (IRIN) - The Sri Lankan Government aims to resettle all conflict-displaced people by the end of 2011, senior officials told IRIN.
“We are very confident that everybody can be resettled by the end of this year and [that we can] close Menik Farm camp as well,” Uthpala Basnayake, Secretary to the Ministry of Resettlement, said on 10 February, noting that demining had to be completed first.
Nearly 17,500 people continue to live at Menik Farm, the country’s largest camp for internally displaced persons (IDP). Earlier the government had hoped to close the 500-hectare site outside the northern town of Vavuniya at the end of 2010.
“The demining process has been accelerated. However, a lot needs to be done. We believe by the end of 2011, we can complete the process,” Basnayake said.
“The main problem we have is the landmine situation and we cannot close the camp until we clear the area,” said Rishad Bathiudeen, a senior government minister and former minister of resettlement and disaster relief services.
According to the recently launched Joint Plan for Assistance to the Northern Province, a total of 530 sqkm was still contaminated at the start of the year, with 444 sqkm cleared since 1 January 2009.
Nigel Robinson, programme manager for the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) in Sri Lanka, said it will probably take at least 18 months to complete all of the known high priority tasks, and more contamination is being identified as the population starts to conduct livelihood activities.
“The process had been speeding up with increased donor support,” he noted. “We have free access and the teams are demining as fast as they can.”
There are currently eight demining operators active in Sri Lanka, including two national NGOs (MMIPE and DASH) and six international NGOs: Danish Demining Group (DDG), FSD, HALO Trust, Horizon, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), and Sarvatra.
According to the government and UN, most of the remaining IDPs come from heavily mine-contaminated areas in Puthukudiyiruppu Divisional Secretariat (DS) and Maritimepattu DS (Mullaitivu District). Since the return process began in August 2009, more than 300,000 conflict-displaced have returned to the north from Menik Farm and more than a dozen other camps hastily set up in the final days of the conflict between government forces and the now defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who had been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland for decades.