Second phase of Indian Housing Project launched

Saturday, 6 October 2012 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Third phase for construction of remaining 6000 houses to commence before the end of this year.
  • Second phase of 43,000 houses under ‘owner driven model’ launched on 2 October 2012 (Mahatma Gandhi Jayanthi – International Day of Non-Violence)
  • 50,000 Indian Housing Project to be completed within three years
  • Pilot phase of 1,000 houses successfully completed in July 2012
  • 10,000 houses under second phase to be constructed by August 2013
  • The entire project is under full grant assistance of the Government of India with an outlay of US$ 270 million.

The second phase of the Indian Housing Project for construction and repair of 43,000 housing units in the Northern and Eastern Provinces was launched on the ground on 2 October 2012 jointly by Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development and Ashok K. Kantha, High Commissioner of India in the presence of Minister Rishad Bathiudeen through events organised at Periyamadhu, Mallavi and Eluthumadduval in Mannar, Mullaitivu and Jaffna Districts respectively.

Minister Wimal Weerawansa also graced the function at Periyamadhu and Minister Douglas Devananda graced the event at Eluthumadduval.

In his remarks at the events, Minister Basil Rajapaksa expressed his deep appreciation for the assistance provided by the Government of India towards rehabilitation and resettlement of IDPs and for reconstruction and development of Northern Province.

He highlighted how the Housing Project was indicative of the phased, timely and sequenced manner of India’s development assistance to Sri Lanka which has been based on requirements on the ground.

Minister Rajapaksa also pointed out that among donor-funded humanitarian assistance projects in Sri Lanka, the Indian Housing Project was unmatched and unprecedented in its scale, reach and impact. He appreciated that the project was being implemented under an owner-driven model of construction where beneficiaries own and manage the reconstruction of their homes.

Ministers Bathiudeen, Weerawansa and Devananda also thanked the Government of India for the assistance in the resettlement and rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Sri Lanka especially through the Indian Housing Project.

In his remarks, the High Commissioner said that the launch of the second phase was a special occasion because 2 October is also the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and it was far more meaningful to celebrate it by launching the second phase of the Indian Housing Project which will touch the lives of thousands of people in Sri Lanka.

The High Commissioner emphasised that the pilot phase of construction of 1,000 houses was completed successfully in July this year.

High Commissioner Kantha said that approximately 1,500 beneficiaries have been selected to receive assistance under this project in the first lot and that funds have already transferred for the first instalment of Rs. 100,000 into the bank accounts of beneficiaries and construction work on the ground would begin soon.

He added that in consultation with the Government of Sri Lanka and the implementing agencies, the target of constructing 9,000 houses by August 2013 had been increased to 10,000 houses.

The High Commissioner also assured that the target of completion of all the 50,000 houses to be constructed under Indian assistance would be completed within three years and Government of India has already set aside the requisite funds for this purpose. The High Commissioner highlighted that this was no ordinary project, but a labour of love.

The High Commissioner also underlined the importance attached by the Government of Sri Lanka to this project, which was reflected by the presence of many Ministers at these events and appreciated the full support and cooperation extended by the Government of Sri Lanka and the implementing agencies.

The High Commissioner also highlighted that all Indian assisted projects in Sri Lanka were progressing in a smooth manner and that some have been completed well ahead of schedule.

The second phase of the project adopts an owner-driven methodology, under which owner-beneficiaries are involved in the process of construction. A cash grant of Rs. 550,000 (INR 230,000) is being provided for construction of a new house in instalments linked to progress in construction. A cash grant of up to Rs. 250,000 (INR 104,000) will be provided for repair of a housing units based on actual assessment of damage.

To facilitate the construction of houses under this phase, the Government of India had earlier, through a competitive process, selected four reputed implementing agencies, viz., UN-Habitat, International Federation of Red Cross in partnership with Sri Lanka Red Cross, National Housing Development Agency of Sri Lanka and Habitat for Humanity. These agencies have experience in implementing similar projects in Sri Lanka.

Beneficiaries under the project are being selected through a transparent and norm-based process on the basis of clearly defined and objective criteria. These beneficiaries will undertake the construction/repair of their houses with necessary technical assistance and support provided by the implementing agencies.

The entire project is under full grant assistance of the Government of India with a total outlay of Rs. 30.6 billion (INR 1,372 crore or US $ 270 million), making it one of the largest grant assistance projects implemented by the Government outside India.

The construction of 43,000 houses for resettlement and rehabilitation of IDPs in Northern and Eastern Provinces is part of Government of India’s overall commitment to build 50,000 houses announced by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during the State visit of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa to India in June 2010.

The project essentially aims to facilitate early resettlement of persons who have been displaced as a result of the armed conflict, to help them rebuild their homes and contribute to their livelihoods as well as to promote return of normalcy in the area.

In order to ensure early operationalisation of this commitment, a pilot project involving construction of 1,000 houses was launched in April 2011 and successfully completed in July 2012. Under this project, 250 houses in Kilinochchi, 250 houses in Mullaitivu, 175 houses in Vavuniya, 175 houses in Mannar and 150 houses in Jaffna have been constructed under the agency-driven model on land provided by the Government of Sri Lanka.

The third phase of the housing project is expected to commence before the end of this year. In this phase, about 2,000 houses will be directly built by construction agencies for people from most vulnerable sections of IDPs in the Northern and Eastern Provinces who are unable to build their own houses and 4,000 houses for Indian-origin workers in tea estates in the Central and Uva Provinces. The process of selection of executing agencies for construction of 4,000 houses is presently underway.

The Indian Housing Project is being carried out in close consultation with and cooperation of the Government of Sri Lanka. A Memorandum of Understanding was earlier signed on 17 January 2012 between the two Governments covering various aspects of project implementation.