The High Commission of India, Colombo, announced in the month of October 2011 that under the Indian Grant Assistance, 10,000 bicycles would be distributed to the resettled IDPs in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka on the basis of need based request originated from the Governor of the Northern Province.
The project was conceived as per the priorities identified in consultation with the Government of Sri Lanka, with the objective to cater to the transportation needs of persons being resettled and to aid revival of their livelihoods. The total cost of the project is about SLR. 67 million.
By all concerned, great attention was paid in developing appropriate criteria for selection of beneficiaries which include families with school going children, families employed in livelihoods requiring mobility, single or women headed families, families with physically or mentally disabled persons families living in remote areas, etc. The role played by UNHCR in this regard was commendable particularly in handling the logistics of the distribution of bicycles.
Of the 10,000 bicycles, 2,500 bicycles have been distributed in Mullaitivu District, 2,500 bicycles in Kilinochchi District, 1,750 bicycles in Mannar District, 1,750 bicycles in Vavuniya District and 1,500 bicycles in Jaffna District.
The first lot of 250 bicycles was distributed to IDPs when S.M. Krishna, Minister of External Affairs of India, visited Jaffna on 18 January 2012 and the second lot of 150 bicycles was distributed when the Parliamentary delegation led by Opposition Leader of Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj visited Mullaitivu on 18 April 2012.
Another major event of distribution of 98 bicycles was held on 17 June 2012 at Jaffna and 112 bicycles in Kilinochchi in the presence of Douglas Devananda, Minister for Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development, Governor G.A. Chandrasiri, Consul General of India, V. Mahalingam, Member of Parliament and Deputy Chairman of Parliament Committees M. Chandra Kumar, Mayor of Jaffna Yogeswaray Patgunarajah, Jaffna Additional Government Agent Rubini Varathalingam and Rupavathi Ketheeswarn, Government Agent of Kilinochchi.
Apart from the above, the rest of the bicycles have been distributed involving the respective GAs and Divisional Secretaries, UNHCR representatives and officials of CGI, Jaffna on various occasions.
The final distribution of 10,000 bicycles covering all the five Districts of the Northern Province was completed on 4 March 2013.