PM secretary told Jaffna difficulties

[TamilNet, Saturday, 31 August 2002, 20:58 GMT]
The difficulties faced by the students and fishermen of the Jaffna district were highlighted at a conference Saturday morning at the Jaffna district secretariat, despite the existence of the ceasefire agreement. The Prime Minister's secretary, Mr. Bradman Weerakone, attended the conference. Education officials said that the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) still occupies sixty schools and students fear to attend classes in several schools, which arestill surrounded by SLA camps.

Fisheries official said that the SLA camps, which are located every hundred meter along the coastal areas, are restricting the freedom of fisher folk.

Mr. Weerakone who arrived in Jaffna Saturday morning on a two day visit, said at the conference that the government has taken steps to pay one thousand US dollars per head to about two hundred thousand displaced families in the northeast province. "The government has made a request in this regard to the US Deputy Secretary to State Mr. Richard Armitage during his recent visit to Sri Lanka," Mr. Weerakone said.

The senior most public servant on the island, Mr. Weerakone expressed shock when he was told that not a single displaced family in the peninsula had been paid the sixty five thousand rupees promised under the rehabilitation scheme. He said that the amount should have been paid to displaced families.

Mr. Weerakone further stated that, "the government annually spends sixty billion rupees for the defence machinery. Of this amount, fifty billion rupees is enough to implement projects pertaining to rehabilitation, reconstruction and relief in the war ravaged province."

"Several foreign countries are in readiness to provide financial aid to rebuild the country, once they receive an assurance from us that the country is at peace," said Mr. Weerakone.

"After World War II, the Marshal Plan was implemented to rebuild war ravaged Europe. Likewise our government is also planning to formulate a marshal plan to develop the country," said the Prime Minister's Secretary.

The Prime Minister has decided to give top priority to launch rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in the northeast province. The government and the Liberation Tigers could join hands and formulate and execute several development projects in this regard, Mr. Weerakone stressed.

Jaffna's Government Agent, Mr. N. Shanmuganthan, said, "the people travelling through the A9 highway undergo immense difficulties as they have to get down at three places for checking purposes. Action should be taken to reduce this to one checking. Furthermore, the A9 highway should be open twenty four hours per day."

Jaffna's Additional Director of Education Mr.K.Rasiah brought to the notice of the of the Prime Minister's Secretary that the SLA continues to occupy sixty schools in the peninsula and that SLA has camps surrounding several more schools. Students are reluctant to attend schools through fear, as SLA camps are located to close to their schools, he said.

The District Fisheries Officer requested that the government should remove the pass system for fishing completely. All SLA camps located every one hundred meters along the coastline should be removed to ensure freedom of movement to the fishermen, he asked. He further brought to the notice of the PM's secretary that the government should take immediate steps to stop Indian trawlers poaching in the territorial waters of Sri Lanka thus depriving the income of Jaffna fishermen.


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