The ambitious Indian project to build 50,000 houses for the displaced Tamil civilians in the north seems to have been delayed.
Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Monday that the pilot project of 1000 houses is likely to take off in July. The foundation stone for the pilot project was laid last November by External Affairs Minister, SM Krishna, amid much fanfare. And, the project was announced in June 2010.
Land for the pilot project would be allocated in five northern Lanka districts including Kilinochchi, Rajapaksa said.
“We have given land,” he said at an interaction with Colombo-based foreign correspondents on Monday.
Diplomatic sources in Colombo, however, said the construction of the first 1000 houses should begin much before July.
The final modalities of how the project will be implemented in phases were being worked out, sources said.
On the issue of the UN panel, Rajapaksa said the three-member international panel was welcome to come to Sri Lanka and give evidence to the government-appointed panel, Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). "(But) they can’t do investigation. That’s very clear…it’s ruled out.’’
Sri Lanka had strongly opposed the Ban Ki-moon’s move to appoint the panel last year. Rajapaksa had instead appointed the LLRC to look into the failure of the Norway-brokered ceasefire with the Tamil Tigers leading to the last years of the war. But global rights groups have since dismissed the internal panel as a facile attempt by the government to deflect growing criticism of its human rights record during the war’s final stage.
Both the government and the LTTE have been accused of being behind civilian casualties as the war came to an end in 2009.
``No one can harm the citizens of their country…anybody killing people is not with them,’’ Rajapaksa said when asked about the situation in Libya. Rajapaksa was probably among the few close allies embattled Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi had called after the civil broke out.
Rajapaksa said: “We are not with anyone killing civilians and cannot accept the violation of the sovereignty of any country.”
Minister of Mass Media and Information, Keheliya Rambukwella said the coalition forces appeared to have gone beyond the mandate of the UNSC Resolution 1973.