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Lankan Govt for new land-cum-sea route to Jaffna

The Lankan Govt has clearly stated that the A9 highway to Jaffna cannot be opened due to security reasons, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2006 17:48 IST

Clearly stating that the A9 highway to Jaffna cannot be opened for security reasons, the Sri Lankan government has proposed an alternative land-cum-sea route via Sangupitty.

The LTTE, however, is yet to respond to the new offer.

The government Defense Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told media persons here on Wednesday, that people and goods could go 20 km north west from Kilinochchi to a place called Sangupitty on the Jaffna lagoon, and from there, take a boat to Jaffna.

The distance between Sangupitty jetty and the jetty on the Jaffna side is about 500 metres.

Rambukwella said that the primary consideration was one of security.

Opening the Muhamalai entry/exit point on the A9 highway would mean opening the floodgates for LTTE infiltration into Jaffna, he said.

" No compromise is possible when it comes to the nation's integrity and sovereignty," the spokesman said.

The LTTE was using the Muhamalai entry/exit point to take university students from Jaffna to the Wanni to train them for joining the Makkal Padai (Peoples' Army) he said.

"Trained students are paid handsomely. The rate card says that it will be SLRs 5,000 for throwing a grenade, and SLRs 15,000 for placing a claymore mine. This is very enticing for young blood," Rambukwella said.

The need to cross the lagoon in boats on the alternative route would restrict the movement of people besides making surveillance by the security forces easier.

"We will keep a watch on the movement of young people," Rambukwella said.

The government had informed the LTTE about the new route a couple of days ago, but no reply had been secured yet, he said.

The LTTE's consent would be necessary for the use of the road from Kilinochchi to Sangupitty, and also for the use of the ferry. The land area and the lagoon are both potential conflict zones.

Tamil traders in Colombo told Hindustan Times that the new route would not be practical because of the need to use the ferry, albeit for a short distance.

"Unless the route is practical, goods will not move to Jaffna in the way they should. The problem of supplies of essentials to Jaffna will remain," one trader, who did not want to be named, said.

"The new route will also not solve the problem of illegal taxation by the LTTE because such taxes will have to be paid when using the A9 road between Vavuniya and Kilinochchi," the trader added.

Asked if there was any other road from Vavuniya to Sangupitty, so that the LTTE-held areas could be avoided, the Army spokesman Brig Prasad Samarasinghe said that there was no other way.

All roads from the South to the North intersected areas held by the LTTE, he explained.

Indian shippers threatened

The LTTE was threatening shippers who were trying to bring food to Jaffna from India, Defence Spokesman Rambukwella said.

India had gifted 5,000 tonnes of rice, 1,500 tonnes of sugar and 300 tonnes of milk powder to Jaffna, but the Sri Lankans (either the government or private traders) would have to lift the stock and transport it.

The problem of finding a ship had not been solved yet. Colombo-based traders did not consider the LTTE a problem because the food was coming from India as a gift for the Tamil people of Jaffna.

SL had moved a lot of food

The military spokesman Brig Samarasinghe said that quite a lot of food and other essentials had been taken to Jaffna from the South by the government.

25,479 tonnes had been delivered so far and 11,664 people had been transported by sea and air.

LTTE fires in Vaharai sector

Brig Samarasinghe said that the LTTE had been firing artillery and mortars at army installations in Kajuwatte, Mankerni and other parts of Batticaloa district from the coastal area of Vaharai.

The LTTE was shelling the Mavil Aaru sector in Trincomalee district also.

Five soldiers were injured in the firing in the Vaharai sector on Wednesday, the spokesman added.

He quoted refugees coming from the LTTE controlled areas of Vaharai, to say that the LTTE was conscripting youth and training its cadres for a major offensive with battle ground models.

First Published: Nov 08, 2006 17:48 IST