31st October 2016 21:47:18 Hours
The phenomenally unique symbol of tripartite combination of Army troops, ex-LTTE combatants and beneficiaries that erected 100 new houses within an incredible space of 4 months in Keeramalai, Jaffna for displaced families, was vested in 100 recipients this afternoon (31) during a culturally elegant ceremony, headed by HE the President Maithripala Sirisena, Chief Guest.
President Maithripala Sirisena, conducted in a brief procession after arrival unveiled the special plaque at the entrance to the new Keeramalai Housing Scheme and moved thereafter to symbolically warm one new house in accordance with age-old traditions, such as milk-pot boiling, Hindu rites and rituals. Later on, the President and other distinguished guests presented keys to the recipients who were exceptionally happy and emotional as they accepted keys.
Under the Phase - I, a total of 100 most deserving families out of 971 displaced families, still languishing in 31 relief welfare centres across the peninsula were selected issue of ownership certificates and keys on the guidelines given by the District Secretariat.
Monday's ceremony saw the President giving away gifts to a group of children in the complex who staged an exhibition of arts and handicrafts after the President inaugurated the exhibition. Major General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander SF-J welcomed the President and all invitees and explained how the project was brought to a successful culmination during the brief ceremony that ensued.
More significantly, the President on the same occasion declared that another 454 acres of land in the Palaly Army Cantonment area, now released to the original owners to coincide with the Keeramalai Housing Scheme opening. President Sirisena, Hon Mavi Senadhiraja, Tamil National Alliance (MP) and a house recipient made speeches to the occasion after the welcome.
The mega Keeramalai Housing Project, executed by the Security Force Headquarters -Jaffna (SFHQ-J) under the able guidance of Major General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander SF-J with the blessings of the Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva, was launched as a Joint Project Management Team (Phase I) and is situated in a selected 47 acre extent of land in Keeramalai (formerly the KKS cement factory premises), adjoining the Palaly Army Cantonment area.
Headed by troops of 51, 52, 55 Divisions and Forward Maintenance Area (FMA), 4 Sri Lanka Engineers, 3 Corps of Engineer Services Regiment, 5 Corps of Engineer Services Regiment, 9 Corps of Engineer Services Regiment, 14 Corps of Engineer Services Regiment and 10 Field Engineer Regiment under the close supervision of the General Officer Commanding, 51 Division of the SFHQ as the Project Director toiled day and night to bring the project to fruition within a record span of four months after the inaugural cornerstone-laying, took place on 11 July 2016 to be in compliance with the government's reconciliation and co-existence efforts.
Each construction team in the project consisted of 10 Army personnel, 1 beneficiary and 1 ex-LTTE combatant against a payment of Rs 1000 a day made by the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs for his labour contribution.
Each house cost Rs 9 lakhs and funds to that effect were made available by the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs through the office of the Jaffna District Secretary. Respective coordinating initiatives were implemented jointly by the Ministry of Defence and the Sri Lanka Army.
This state-of-the-art civil-military joint effort, a mirror that reflects growing interactive cordial relations and sentiments of reconciliation, offers each beneficiary a new house of twenty perch block, comprised of two bed rooms, a living room, dining area, kitchen, toilet and the bathroom, covering a land extent of 540 sq ft. The scheme also houses a community centre, playground, nursery, fish market, police post and other necessary infrastructure facilities such as drinking water and electricity.
Clearing of the site for the Keeramalai Housing Complex began in earnest on 26 June 2016 by the troops of the 10 Field Engineer Regiment as surveying and blocking out, got underway simultaneously with the support of civil sector experts.
General Officers Commanding, 51, 52 and 55 Division under the SFHQ-J have offered their full support to the project. The next phase for resettlement of IDPs in selected areas providing new houses would commence before the end of the year.
Hon Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Mr D Swaminathan, Hon State Minister Ms Vijayakala Maheshvaran, Hon State Minister of Defence Mr Ruwan Wijayawardene, Governor for Northern Province, Secretary to Ministry of Defence, District Secretary for Jaffna, Chief of Defence Staff, Army and Navy Commanders, Chief of Staff, Air Force, Inspector General of Police, Deputy Inspector General of Police, state officials, leading citizens, invitees, recipients and a large gathering attended the ceremonies.