COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan government’s decision to give a contract to the Indian-owned, Luxembourg-based company ArcelorMittal, to build 65,000 houses for the war-displaced in the Tamil-majority Northern Province will hamper ethnic reconciliation because the houses are unsuited to the local climate and culture, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) told President Maithripala Sirisena.
Going ahead with the scheme disregarding the true needs of the Tamil people of the North and East can only be reflective of an unwillingness to effectively honor the government’s public commitment to ethnic reconciliation, said R.Sampanthan, TNA chief and Leader of Opposition in parliament, in a letter to Sirisena.
Using steel rather than bricks, the houses will not suit the tropical climate of the North, Sampanthan said. Moratuwa Engineering University has said that they will not last more than a decade. In fact, the model houses are already coming apart. This, Sampanthan said, is unacceptable to Tamils as they build houses to pass them down generations. In contrast, the 50,000 brick houses built by India are “half as costly, environmentally suitable and durable,” he pointed out.
Sampanthan charged that the decision to give the contract to Arcelor Mittal was taken before the tender process commenced in August 2015.
“The government cannot go ahead with the project. We will speak to the President, Prime Minister and Resettlement Minister Swaminathan to convince them. However the TNA plans no agitation,” he told Express.