COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan government and the Lankan construction industry have struck a compromise on the controversial issue of building 65,000 houses for the war displaced in the Tamil-majority Northern Province.
Top sources in the Lankan builders’ consortium Major Constructors of Sri Lanka (MCSL) told Express here on Monday, that as per the compromise, Lakshmi Niwas Mittal’s ArcelorMittal will build 65,000 houses in the North as already planned, and the MCSL will build 65,000 houses elsewhere in the island.
“We are happy with the arrangement as there is vast scope for house construction in Lanka which needs 500,000 new units,” said a top functionary at MCSL.
On February 18, the MCSL was invited by the National Planning Department of the Finance Ministry to submit a proposal for the construction of 65,000 brick and mortar houses in the North. MCSL responded enthusiastically with the relevant details, including a plan for funding from Chinese and other international banks with ADB and Lankan government guarantees.
However, ArcelorMittal, which has top political connections, successfully pushed its case to build pre-fabricated houses made of PVC and steel, despite receiving heavy flak from the Northern Province Chief Minister and the Tamil National Alliance over the utter unsuitability of such houses and their high cost.
With MCSL opting out of the North as a result of the compromise, what the TNA and the Northern Chief Minister will do remains to be seen