Sunday, December 7, 2008


Fishermen at Gurunagar Jetty...Farmers starting their work with the rainy season....
K.Ganesh, Government Agent, Jaffna

In the Peninsula .........Life bounces back to normal:

By Dhaneshi YATAWARA

Amidst the tornados, cyclones and depressions built up in the Bay of Bengal, spring is coming to the Northern peninsula. Under the supervision of the Ministry of Nation Building the Government is to launch ‘Uthuru Wasanthaya’ (Northern Spring) - the mega development program for the Northern Province. Similar to the Eastern Province the Government will bring back the lost glory to Jaffna and its people. Life was running smoothly in Jaffna even at a time when troops’ fight against terrorism was at a climax in the Muhamalai Forward Defence Lines. The villages in Jaffna suburbs on the either sides of the A9 road on the way to the Muhamalai FDL were enjoying their usual docile environment.

Out of the total area of 983.6 square kilometres of Jaffna only 27.9 are uncleared which include only the Vadamarachchi East, the Jaffna District Secretariat situation report stated. With the recent operations carried out by the Army more territory is being liberated.

Jaffna is a unique set up with 546,507 people residing in the district. According to the Government statistics 3,537 families comprising 12,963 members are living in Vadamarachchi East - the only uncleared DS division.

“Jaffna people are free to lead a normal life and the situation is improving at an amazing pace,” Jaffna Security Forces Commander Major General G. A. Chandrasiri told us while explaining how the day to day activities are functioning. With the past experience of LTTE threats to innocent civilian lives the Commander does not want any loose points in the security network. Since its liberation from the Tiger clutches the Sri Lanka Army is in charge of the total security of the area.

Sri Lanka Army makes sure that the people are able to conduct their religious activities, festivals and all the other important functions, without interruption. They take full care of the area ensuring that the needs of the civilians are also met on time while carrying out their prime duty of holding the Tigers at bay beyond our limits.

Development drive

The only obstacle the development work is facing is the shortage of building materials. Since the goods should reach Jaffna through sea, transportation of these bulky materials gets a limited chance. “Commissioner General of Essential Services already had discussions with the Chairman of the Cement Corporation to initiate a special supply of cement to Jaffna,” Jaffna District Secretary K. Ganesh told us. By then they were expecting a load of 78,000 cement bags from the next shipment of ‘Mercs Ruhuna’. At the moment 7000-8000 metric tons of building materials reach Jaffna through the currently available sea transport. Shipping was paused due to the adverse weather conditions that affected the island’s Northern and Eastern parts.

Fuel is separately transported by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation with the assistance of the Sri Lanka Navy avoiding shortage of supplies. In October Jaffna’s requirement of 535 metric tons of petrol (90 Octane) was supplied. And to meet the requirement of 4,166 metric tons of auto diesel, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation supplied 5,624.23 metric tons in the same month.

“At the moment seven ships, namely Ruhuna, Yala, Dublin, Bin Than, Almeezan, Nimalawa, Maha and Uniglory are used to transport goods from Trincomalee and Colombo harbours. If we properly plan the transportation the number of ships is quite sufficient,” Ganesh added. Ruhuna has a capacity of 3,800 metric tons, Yala has 2,800 metric tons, Dublin and Almeezan has 2,200 metric tons capacity, Bin Than has 1,500 and Maha has a capacity of 2,900 metric tons.

According to the up-to-date figures 53,324 families are resettled in the Jaffna district. Action is being taken to resettle the IDPs within the southern 300 metres of the 600 metres Buffer zone of Forward Defence Line after verifying the suitability of families jointly by the Civil Administration and the Security Forces. 3,419 families have produced deeds to prove ownership during the verification and they have been sent to the Attorney General’s Department for submission to the Supreme Court to consider for resettlement in Tellipalai Divisional Secretary Division. A committee consisting of the High Court Commissioner, the Government Agent, the Jaffna Security Forces Commander, the Northern Naval Commander and the Deputy Inspector General of Police has been appointed by the Supreme Court to consider the possibilities of Resettlement in the high security zone.

The committee met on several occasions and is studying the situation to abide by the Supreme Court directive. At the moment 258 families are identified for resettlement. Tellipalai Divisional Secretariat and the Security Forces personnel have verified the documents of lands. Action is under way to resettle 24 families in the cleared area beyond 600 metres Buffer Zone shortly.

Four hundred passengers can travel from Jaffna to other parts of the country every other day in the passenger ship and the two private airlines operates five services daily transporting a total of about 220 passengers.

Education, the most precious gift of the Jaffna people, performs miracles amidst all the difficulties these children face. In the G.C.E. Ordinary level examination held last year 100 students gained 10 As each. Their minds are clear and traditionally they are trained to think that education is their key to a successful future.

Schools in Jaffna district participated in National level sportsmeet and got 11 places. This is a very encouraging development for the student community as well as to the society. A function was organised to honour all sportsmen and women who achieved places at district, provincial and national levels. The District Secretariat informs that action has already been taken for the transport of uniform material required for the students for next year. A total of 487 schools of primary and secondary levels are functioning in the district.

Private traders brought in 4,950 metric tons of stationery where as the requirement was 200 metric tons in the month of October.

Altogether 3,700 private traders are now fully involved in trading activities. The private sector trading activities are improving. 24 Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society outlets are functioning properly.

Within the district 2,953 poultry farmers and 1,050 dairy farmers are registered. The prices of meat, eggs and milk are under control now as a result of increased production. It is necessary to promote the existing conditions in livestock and poultry industries by bringing in animal feed by ship on a regular basis. In January Jaffna produced 62,350 litres of milk and in October the figure was 64,052 litres while the maximum was 91,852 litres in August.

Cultivation in Jaffna extends to 5,110 ha of high lands where crops are grown throughout the year. 9,600 ha of paddy lands are cultivated only in the Maha season.

Valukkai Aru scheme is implemented by the Provincial Irrigation Department as a reawakening project under World Bank Funds at a cost of 268 million rupees. The Valukkai Aru has a catchment area of 57 square metres. The Valukkai Aru main channel is approximately 16 kilometres long and runs from Tellippalai to Araly. This scheme includes 62 minor tanks and main channel and 08 sub channels and one barrage. This scheme is scheduled to be completed within two years. The preliminary construction works are already commenced. With the completion of the Chunnakam Power plant additional 30 megawatts of electricity is contributed to the national grid, enabling the authorities to supply electricity without regular interruptions.

The new power plant is constructed as a BoI project under Northern Power, a private company based in Colombo working as the local agent for Energy Capital - a company based in Singapore. The Thondaman Aru barrage, which prevents inland fresh water getting mixed with sea water during the high tide, was damaged due to lack of maintenance. Under the Ministry of Nation Building the barrage reconstruction work is 80 per cent completed at a total cost of 100 million rupees. This has altogether 18 gates out of which 16 are completely done. Manual and electronic manoeuvring systems are already installed. 20,000 acres of land were rendered totally unsuitable for agriculture as a result of poor maintenance of this barrage. Construction activities are undertaken by the State Engineering corporation and the Government Factory. With this the quality of the under ground water will improve and as a result the conditions of the arable lands will also improve.

In addition to all these projects, the Road Development Authority has undertaken to rehabilitate the Jaffna - Manipay - Karainagar road at an estimated cost of 400 million rupees under a CAARP project.

Several road development projects are under way in addition to the Karainagar road development project. Separated from India by a narrow strip of sea ‘Yalpanam’ was the home for many prestigious personalities of our motherland. Life is running smoothly in Jaffna amidst heavy debacles. The dark gloomy days seem to have gone beyond the seas.

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