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Tsunami fails to change Sri Lanka

Post-tsunami, fears, animosities and conflicts have returned to Lanka, writes PK Balachanddran. HT Relief Fund
PTI | By COLOMBO DIARY | PK Balachanddran, Colombo
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2005 06:49 PM IST
The tsunami of December 26, 2004, was the greatest leveller in recent Sri Lankan history.

It hit the Sinhalas, Tamils and Muslims, the rich and the poor, the Tamil North-East and the Sinhala South, in one mighty sweep.

In the rescue work, which followed, ethnic and class differences seemed to have miraculously vanished, giving rise to hope that the foundation for an entirely new Sri Lanka, without its decades-old animosities, conflicts and cleavages, was being laid.

But no sooner than the waters receded, these very animosities, tendencies, fears and agendas surfaced. Sri Lanka was back to square one, in no time.

Ethnic conflict

While the ethnic conflict between the majority Sinhalas and the minority Tamils continues unabated, a new conflict between the Muslims and the Sinhala-dominated political system has arisen.

Accessibility to relief and rehabilitation is the key issue now. The Tamils and Muslims are bitterly complaining that the government's relief and rehabilitation efforts have not been equitable.

But the government maintains that a fair share has been going to the Tamil-speaking North and East.

According to the Secretary of the Department of Relief and Rehabilitation MS Jayasinghe, 8,093.45 metric tonnes of rice and other dry rations have been sent to the five North Eastern districts affected by the tsunami.

SLRs 403.5 million ($4 million) had been given to the District Government Agents there and another SLRs 400 million would be sent soon, the state media quoted him as saying.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga's office said that 12 pick up trucks, 30 tractor trailers (both big and small), 90 generators and 50 water pumps had been dispatched.

The government says that the LTTE is suppressing the government's contribution by hijacking the relief material sent by it and distributing it as the LTTE's own. 

"The LTTE's cry of discrimination is only a ploy to collect funds from Tamils living abroad," said Harim Peiris, the President's spokesman.

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