India today launched an ambitious Rs 1,300 crore housing project in northern Sri Lanka to build brand new homes for about 43,000 ethnic Tamil families displaced due to the civil war in the country.

The project, which is the second phase of the housing scheme, was launched in three districts of Mannar, Mullaitivu and Jaffna today on Mahatma Gandhi’s 142nd birth anniversary by Economic Development Minister, Basil Rajapaksa and Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Ashok K Kantha.

Today’s launch saw 1,500 Tamils and Muslims displaced due to the decades-old war getting certificates for building houses in lands either owned by them or given by the Government with Kantha announcing that 10,000 houses will be built by August 2013.

Rajapaksa and Kantha handed over certificates to the beneficiaries at the Muslim dominated Periyamadhu in Mannar district, Mallavi in Mullaitivu and Eluthumadduval in Jaffna district and interacted with them.

This is part of India’s commitment to build 50,000 houses for war-displaced Tamils announced by the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh during Sri Lanka President, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to India in June, 2010.

India has already handed over 1,000 houses to such people in northern region as part of its pilot project which was completed in July this year.

Under the owner-driven model, the beneficiaries would get 5.5. lakh Sri Lankan rupees each to build houses and the money would be released in four instalments by the Indian High Commission after they had fulfilled certain criteria like completion of the first phase of the construction.

Kantha said the first instalment of Rs 1 lakh has already been transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries, while Rajapaksa said the Indian housing project was unmatched and unprecedented in its scale, reach and impact.

(This article was published on October 2, 2012)
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