Jaffna: Rehabilitation continues:
Rich harvest despite bad weather
Lives of people in the inner regions of the Wanni are returning to
B. Mariyadasa, A. Sivambaram and V. Annakadi who I met at Poonagar
Divisional Secretariat, spoke Sinhala fluently. They were waiting for
their turn to face an interview for a bank loan to restart their
livelihoods. After a stay of 18 months in Menik Farm IDP camp, they
returned to their home town-Jayapuram in July last year.
Mariyadasa said that the people in Jayapuram lost everything they
earned on two occasions.
The majority of the people living in Jayapuram are Tamils who escaped
from the South after the 1983 July ethnic riots.
"I lived in Avissawella where I had a well established business. In
1983 we had to escape leaving everything" he said. Sivambaram is from
Teldeniya, Kandy and Annakadi is from Matale.
At the final phase of the war on terrorism they again lost
everything, including their houses and went to the IDP camp. They have
started their lives again from scratch. They are hopeful of the future
and have begun a new leg with courage. What they request from the
government is to repair the irrigation network.
All forms of economic activity have begun at primitive level because
infrastructure is not fully developed and most of the internal parts of
the Wanni region are still isolated.
The filling station in Pooneryn is an example. It is a tin roofed hut
that stored fuel in plastic cans for sale. Fuel is transported from
Jaffna or Kilinochchi in cans by bus.
The smithy uses a generator to generate electricity for welding.
Aruwali Arts College based in a cadjan hut, conducts tuition classes
in Pooneryn, K. Sandrapavan, a teacher of Nallur Maha Vidyalaya who
conducts Tamil classes said that at last year's O/L examination,
students of his class obtained good results. Over 100 children attend
classes conducted for all subjects and are charged Rs. 50 per subject
Government officials and the Army are assigned the difficult task of
assisting rehabilitation in these conflict affected areas. Dr. Basnayake
the only doctor at Pooneryn hospital is assigned a difficult task with
He is the only doctor for 24,000 families and over 15,000 officers of
the Army and Navy. The hospital is located in a rented house. There are
no doctors' quarters, electricity or nursing staff. "The army provides
me food and lodging and we have a generator to use in the night.
Medicine and an ambulance are available. But due to dilapidated roads,
it takes two and a half hours to send a patient to Jaffna or Kilinochchi
hospitals" Dr. Basnayake said.
Dr. Basnayake said that the welfare of the people is mainly looked
into by the Military and the Provincial Council is not doing the role
expected of it.
However, things are getting better./ Eights months ago the situation
was miserable. There was no water and sanitary conditions were awful.
People suffered with skin diseases, diarrhoea and respiratory
diseases. Children were malnourished.
But today the situation is far better with people having food.The
Maha season paddy harvesting is now ending and farmers said that despite
bad weather the harvest is good.
The Pooneryn-Sanguppidy bridge which was opened recently has
expedited recovery in this area.
The bus service between Mannar and Jaffna has recommenced and people
have easy access to Jaffna.