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Sunday, 6 April 2014





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Over 100 houses in Phase 2:

New houses bring fresh hopes to Keppapilavu

The first step was 50 houses in 90 days. And that was in 2013.

A row of new houses in Keppapilavu Model Village
Villagers welcoming the guests
Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa handing over ownership of a house to a villager

Today the Keppapilavu has 101 houses more, which were handed over to the owners last Thursday (April 3) by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Keppapilavu model village, located a few kilometres from the Mullativu town, is a progressing fishing cum agricultural village.

It is a multi coloured village with rows of houses painted in a light blue, reddish brown soil, bright green foliage and yellow flowers fluttering in the wind in the scorching heat of the sun. Many banana trees of different heights, one old mango tree, a sweet potato plot running in one corner were common among many of these clean and neat gardens.

Yet one still cannot figure out why these people keep the temporary shelter they built immediately after resettling - is it just another store room or a mark to remind them of the horrible past?

Wrinkle lines on older people's faces tell many stories of the hardships these people faced as they were the last to come from the Vavuniya Cheddikulam Welfare Centres where they were sheltered as Internally Displaced Persons. Today, this developing village has become a model of rural development, not only to the Maritimepattu DS Division to which it belongs in the Mullaitivu district, but to the entire country.



Many houses have been built in his village by the soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army deployed under the Mullaitivu Security Forces Headquarters with funds from the Government. A resettling family receives around Rs. 350,000 to build a new house from the Ministry of Resettlement.

The main problem in these villages has been finding the man-power to build a house and transport material. Today, the Army personnel deployed in areas where people are resettling, assist the villagers to build their houses and to those civilians who are not physically fit, the soldiers take the total responsibility of building a house.

There are 262 families comprising 868 persons in the village, according to President of the Rural Development Society Rasaiah Parameshwaran, which even the villagers call as RDS. The Grama Niladhari Division has four villages - Sooriyapuram, Keppapilavu, Seeniyamotai and Pelakkudiyirippu.

After resettling, the villagers have formed a Rural Development Society to effectively coordinate the development work of the society.

Most of the villagers here were either fishermen or farmers over generations. Apart from the RDS the village fishermen have formed a Keppapilavu Fishing Society last year and has become a leading coordinator in the fast growing fishing industry in the Mullaitivu district.

S. Balakrishnan is the secretary of the fishing society and had many things to say. He was eloquent in both Sinhala and Tamil. “I'm from Trincomalee. More than thirty years ago I came here as a businessman trading dried fish, prawns, crabs from the Nanthikadal lagoon,” Balakrishnan said. He fell in love with a pretty Tamil girl in the area over three decades ago and settled down in Keppapilavu, her native place. He raised a family and lived happily and peacefully with the entire village until the terrorist threats emerged. “As I could speak good Sinhala the LTTE did not permit me to visit my parents or my siblings. So for 30 years I didn't see them,” he said.

Today his three sons-in-law carry on the fishing business in the lagoon and Balakrishnan works full time as the secretary to the fishing society. These fishermen get higher rates from Mudalalis coming from different parts of the country.

- specially from Chilaw and Colombo.

“There are 150 families as members of the Fishing Society and 75 fishermen actively involved in fishing,” Balakrishnan said.

Illegal fishing

All houses have electricity

The fishing community is facing a different sort of a threat at present. Explaining the present situation Balakrishnan said that certain other fishermen use the illegal fishing net with a small space and with that even the younger shrimps get caught. “But there is no market demand for small shrimp and these fishermen throw those shrimps away in large numbers,” he said. As Balakrishnan explained traditional fishermen use a larger fishing net so that they are able to catch fully grown shrimp. “We see a drastic decline in the harvest of tiger prawns compared to last year. We believe that it may be due to these illegal fishing methods,” he said.

The RDS chairman Parameshwaran works in a leading school in Mullaitivu. There are 24 people working in government institutes, 150 paddy farmers and another 44 villagers doing work for daily wages. One area of paddy lands of these people were needed for security purposes, yet when the villagers discussed the issue with Mullaitivu Security Forces Commander Major General Jagath Dias, 84 acres got released. Thus, according to Parameshwaran today the village cultivates more than 200 acres of paddy lands.

Since last week a bus has started operating up to Mullaitivu following a long-term request from the people to the Government. It starts around six o' clock in the morning plying to Mullaitivu. From Mullaitivu it starts coming back to the village by 11.30 am and then again plies to Mullativu by 2.30 pm.

The bus reaches Keppapipilavu by 6 pm. Many of the school children use the bicycle.

For the primary education students attend the Wattapplai Maha Vidyalaya and for further studies - Advance level onwards - they go to Vidyananda College in Mullaitivu.

At present there are 34 school children studying for GCE Ordinary level and 15 for Advance level. 10 youth from the village are undergraduates.


Irrespective of race and religion we all must unify under one flag - Secretary Defence

Under the second phase of the Keppapilavu model village, newly constructed 101 houses were handed over to the beneficiaries at a function held at Keppapilavu village by the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Gotabaya Rajapaksa on April 3.

The Defence Secretary symbolically handed over the keys of a new house to a beneficiary inaugurating the event. Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, District Secretary N. Vedanayagam, Mullaitivu Security Forces Commander Major General Jagath Dias and many governments and military senior officials were present at the occasion.

The financial allocations for the houses were provided by the Ministry of Resettlement and the labour and the civil engineering expertise had been provided by the troops serving under the Security Forces Headquarters Mullaitivu.

The Defence Secretary also laid the foundation stone for the third phase of project which will be launched soon. Accordingly 66 houses will be constructed in the third phase and those will be vested on public in the near future.

Speaking at the event Secretary Defence stated, “Since the dawn of peace the President's intention was to resettle displaced personnel with immediate effect.

Accordingly, majority of them were resettled in their own land successfully,” he said. Emphasising on the duty of the government agents in the area he said, “the officials must expedite the ongoing projects and should facilitate the people by paying attention into their issues. Terrorism would be reorganised and reactivated if ignored.

The mutual relationship and understanding between the military and the civil society should be strengthened by diminishing the language barrier,” he said. He added that economy of the villagers will be upgraded by enhancing career opportunities and allowing more room to buy their products in the market such as raw vegetables and fishing harvest.

“People's faith in the government and the armed forces is vital in view of the fact that they brought everlasting peace to the country. Irrespective of race and religion we all must unify under one flag”, Secretary Defence said.



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