Returnees face uphill task in rebuilding Illupaikulam

[TamilNet, Monday, 14 April 2003, 11:16 GMT]
Displaced people from Illupaikulum, a village located six kilometers north of the east port town along the Trincomalee Kuchchaveli main road, are returning to resettle in their lands with the signing of the ceasefire agreement. After fifteen years of neglect with the village overgrown with jungles and its basic infrastructure facilities destroyed in war, the returning residents face an uphill task in rebuilding their village, sources said.

Returning former residents
Illupaikulam is one of the several Tamil villages abandoned by the permanent residents due to military operations launched by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) in the Trincomalee district.

The village comes under the administration of the Trincomalee Town and Gravets Divisional Secretary. It is bounded on the north by hillocks, east by Aththimoddai-Sambaltivu road, south by Pillaikulam Bridge along the Nilaveli road and west by lands bordering the original Kanniya village.

Two minor tanks named Illupaikulam and Siruppidikulam are located in the village. People of the village were mainly engaged in cash crop cultivation and animal husbandry till they were displaced.

Since 1983 ethnic disturbances a population of more than 250 Tamil families of the village started moving to other parts of the district for their safety. However with the arrival of Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) an effort was made to resettle the displaced. Efforts collapsed when the Sri Lanka Army launched fresh military operation in the district and IPKF withdrew from the northeast province.

Destroyed houses
The village was completely abandoned after 1990. All houses in the villages and other infrastructure facilities were destroyed in the war, sources said.

Most of the displaced families sought refuge in welfare camps in northeast province and sought refuge in South India

With the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, most of the displaced expressed their desire to resettle in the village once again. However about sixty displaced families returned to the village and put up temporary huts in a portion of the village and started locating their lands now overgrown with shrub jungles. Even the roads and paths have been covered overgrown shrub jungles and bushes, sources said.

The building of the government dispensary is overgrown with jungle and no action has been taken to renovate the building. Those who returned face immense hardship to obtain medical assistance if they fall sick, sources said.

The displaced immediately formed a Rural Development Society (RDS) in the village and have sought urgent assistance from various non-governmental agencies to rebuild their village. The World Bank funded North East Integrated Agricultural Project (NEIAP) has come forward to assist the villagers to reconstruct the main and sub-roads permitting access to individual lands.

A 4200-meter main road is to be constructed in the village with the assistance provided by the NEIAP, RDS sources said

The resettlers said they urgently need drinking water and electricity facility. All wells found in the village are covered with debris. The resettlers need assistance to construct new wells and to renovate existing wells.

Reconstruction beginning in Illupaikulam

The NEIAP has agreed to construct three community wells immediately and also to provide environmentally safe latrines, sources said.

The two minor tanks Illupaikulam and Siruppidikulam need to be rehabilitated before the month of December enabling farming families to start their cultivation. NEIAP has, however agreed to rehabilitate the Siruppidikulam, RDS sources said.

The resettled displaced people also need a co-operative store in the village, RDS sources have informed the authorities concerned.

Meanwhile, the only Hindu temple in the village Sri Balamurugan Alayam is out of bounds for the resettled people as the security forces have established a camp encompassing it. The RDS authorities have sought the assistance of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in Trincomalee to make arrangements with the security forces so that devotees can use the Hindu temple, sources said.

More destroyed houses


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