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Northern Province regains its pristine glory

2013 Jul 09

By P. Krisnaswamy

The Northern Province that had borne the brunt of terrorism for thirty long years under the clutches of the LTTE is fast returning to its former glory as an economic nerve centre of the country, since the implementation of the 'Vadakkin Vasantham' recovery program implemented by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) which was appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on May 7, 2009, immediately after the military defeat of the terrorist outfit. Several mega development projects have already been implemented and many more are in the pipeline for the terrorism-ravaged province.

The re-constructed Jaffna Library complex

The multi-facility complex in Jaffna

Tobacco cultivation that has re-started in the peninsula.

Booming agricultural activities

The re-constructed Murukandy bridge
Onion harvest in a Jaffna village

The Herculean task of re-building the entire province has virtually been achieved through the multifarious programs for the overall re-structure and the fast changing face of the province is authentic testimony to this achievement, authoritative sources said. Many programs have already been implemented successfully, more are under implementation and some are in the pipeline.

The Government is spending a bulk of the funds obtained from the ADB,WB and other international monetary organisations for the development of the province mainly aimed at the socio-economic uplift of the people and their empowerment, the sources said.

Entrepreneurs from many countries are visiting the province to explore investment potentials.

One entrepreneur has decided to develop the island sector as a tourist destination under a mega project which will offer direct employment opportunities to 25,000 and indirectly to many more. He will develop the Kayts, Mandativu and Kerativu offshore islands with golf courses, big tourist hotels and facilities for the passenger ships to come direct to the tourist sites.

The Mandativu offshore island which has one of the best Bird Sanctuaries in the region will also be developed to form part of the tourist attractions. It is a mega project to be completed at a gradual pace in 10 years, the sources said.

There will be five industrial zones, each 25 acres or more in extent. The Achchuvely Industrial Zone is already nearing completion and has many industrial complexes. These will ultimately be entrusted to the people, through their organisations. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who is in-charge of the PTF for Northern Development, are fully committed to the recovery of the province to its former state, the sources said.

The first phase of the Kankesanthurai harbour development project is already completed and the second phase has started. With the completion of the third phase, the Northern province will have an international standard harbour and ships will come direct, contributing to the economy of the province, the sources said.

The salient features of the different programs, based on details provided by the Northern PC administration, on restoration of civil administration, livelihood facilities to the resettled people (agricultural production, irrigation, livestock and fisheries), all other facilities including housing, education, health, drinking water, sanitation, re-construction and infrastructure are featured here. Almost all the displaced persons, numbering 353,400 have been resettled in their original places of residence and have returned to their traditional professions.

The relief and rehabilitation assistance extended to them included six months' dry rations, non-food relief item, sets of kitchen utensils, shelter grant of Rs. 25,000, roofing sheets 12 numbers, cement eight bags, agricultural tool kits, seed paddy two bushels per acre, subsidised fertilisers, land preparation payment of Rs. 4,000 and transport facilities.

Rehabilitation of access roads, restoration of power supply , rehabilitation of major and minor tanks, rehabilitation of canals and culverts as well as rehabilitation and recommissioning of irrigation facilities were among the main infrastructure facilities that were provided for the livelihood of the displaced families. Services provided included rehabilitation of administrative officers, hospitals, maternity homes, schools, cooperative outlets, agrarian services, post offices, banks as well as restoration of clean drinking water facilities.

The amount invested by the line ministries under the 'Vadakkin Vasantham' program is Rs. 8,865.33 Mn, by the then Ministry of Nation Building and State Infrastructure is Rs. 2,222.17 Mn, and the Ministry had also contributed a supplementary investment of Rs. 993.39 Mn from foreign funds.

The investment by the Northern PC Ministries is Rs. 1,215.29 Mn. The total amount so invested was Rs. 12,296.78 Mn. Sector-wise contribution for 'Vadakkin Vasantham' development programs for the years from 2009 - 2012 include Rs. 171,233.44 Mn which was for the resettled areas to develop livelihood of the people and the basic infrastructure. This investment contributed towards their day to day livelihood activities and to fulfil their needs.

The GDP growth rate was recorded as the highest in the province at 27.1 percent in 2011. Agriculture, including fisheries and animal husbandry, which are the mainstay of the economy has shown positive growth after 2009. The agricultural sector contributed to 24.2 percent of the GDP composition to the provincial economy in 2011. Paddy cultivation in the North in the years 2011 and 2012 had recorded the highest yield in the country. Production of crops, fisheries and other livelihood sectors have gradually increased and the market for agricultural products has expanded. Per capita income rose to Rs. 200,000 in 2011 as against Rs. 159,000 in 2010. This trend is progressively on the increase.

Under the Northern Province Governor's special scheme for IDP students returning from war zone they were allowed to continue their studies in the universities after going through a government procedure applicable to IDPs and ex-combatants.

The scheme was started in 2010 and out of 424 students, 189 were selected for the scheme under which each student gets assistance for the university academic year until completion of the course of study. Total expenditure on implementation of the scheme was Rs. 7.98 Mn in 2010, Rs. 3.63 Mn in 2011 and Rs. 3.97 Mn in 2012.

There are 42 registered children's homes that are functioning with monetary assistance and monitoring by the Government (Department of Probation and Childcare). Also there are 14 unregistered homes. There are 502 schools functioning in the Jaffna district ( 3 zones), 110 schools in the Kilinochchi District (1 zone ), 117 schools in the Mullaitivu district (2 zones), 202 schools in the Vavuniya district (2 zones) and 129 schools in the Mannar distrcit (2 zones). An amount of Rs. 2.80 Mn was invested to improve the educational sector in the years 2009 - 2012. About 695 school buildings were either reconstructed or repaired. Lab facilities have been provided to 28 schools under the 'Mahindodaya' program.

Over 80,000 students received recreational kits, school bags, free uniforms, books and meals. About 86,202 pieces of furniture for students, 2,200 for teachers, 206 steel cabinets, 12 lab equipment, 482 computers, Rs. 100 Mn worth of library books, Rs. 20 Mn worth of sports material and 105 musical instruments were provided to the schools.

Temporary accommodation for teachers were provided and 100 laptop computers to selected students who performed well at the GCE (AL) were distributed.

1,642 pre-schools attended by 48,252 children are functioning with government assistance. Of the 2890 pre-school teachers, 1,847 are getting a monthly allowance from the government while 840 teachers have been imparted in-house training. Infrastructure facilities have been extended to 99 pre-schools and 447 teachers completed training as diploma holders in pre-school education.

In the All Schools Games and Athletics competition, participants from the Northern schools won 11 medals for games and 24 for athletics.

In the health care sector, 4 District General Hospitals, 3 Base Hospitals (Type A), 6 Base hospitals (type B), 54 Divisional hospitals and 34 primary hospitals are functioning.

The newly constructed medical wards, surgical wards and medical officers' quarters at the Base Hospital, Chavakachcheri was declared open recently. The cost was Rs. 150 Mn.

An amount of Rs. 4,814 Mn was spent during the years 2009 - 2012 to improve the health sector. 237 major health institutions were reconstructed or renovated at a cost of Rs. 2,250 Mn. Nearly Rs. 1,300 Mn worth of medical equipment were provided to all hospitals in the province, including to medical institutions in the resettled areas. Most of the quarters for medical officers, nursing officers and other staff were reconstructed at Rs. 500 Mn.

Thirty-one ambulances, 8 single cabs, 3 mobile dental vehicles, 2 mobile spraying units, 2 mobile health vehicles, a 52-seater bus, a drug lorry, an ambulance boat, 30 motorbikes, 150 scooters, 385 bicycles and 8 generators were also supplied to health institutions in the resettled areas. The total cost is Rs. 450 Mn. In Mannar DGH division a special child care unit was constructed and equipped at a cost of Rs. 25 Mn. A paediatric ward complex in the DH area, Adampan was constructed at an expenditure of Rs. 40 Mn. Foundation stone for the Base Hospital in Mulankavil in Oddusuddan was laid and the initial cost is estimated at Rs. 100 Mn. 163 Nursing Officers were appointed. Three ambulances, one each to the Mullaitivu General Hospital, Mullaitivu Base Hospital and the Periyapandivirichchan divisional hospital were supplied.

The new office of the Regional Director of Health Services for Mullaitivu was constructed at Rs. 39 Mn. For reducing malnutrition among lactating mothers, pregnant mothers and infants below two years a program at a cost of Rs. 300 Mn has been implemented. Construction of the four storey, 200 bedded ward at the General Hospital, Vavuniya was started at a cost of Rs. 187 Mn. The Ministry of Economic Development supplied CT scanners to the DHC, Vavuniya at Rs. 56 Mn. A multi-facility building complex at the Teaching Hospital, Jaffna was recently declared open by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at a total cost of Rs. 2600 Mn. Agro machinery, equipments and tools were supplied to farmers in the resettled areas.

Over 320,603 kg of seed paddy and large quantities of subsidized fertilisers including MOP, Urea and TSP were also supplied to the farmers. The Regional College of Fisheries and Nautical Engineering was established in Jaffna in October 2011.

Local services improvement program, at a cost of Rs. 3,626.44 Mn, was implemented under funding from the Ministry of Economic Development. Of the total 34 local government bodies (MCs, UCs and PSs), 32 elected bodies are functioning.

The local authorities renovated rural roads, cleaned wells, provided sanitation facilities and renovated buildings at a cost of Rs. 2,620 Mn. Under the Pura Neguma program, roads were renovated, water supply facilities reconstructed and market buildings were constructed at an expenditure of Rs. 1,019.42 Mn. Under the local government improvement project ( rehabilitation of roads, buildings and purchase of machinery) a total amount of Rs. 463.3 was spent.

A total number of 126 mini cooperative cities and 30 main cooperative cities were constructed in the five districts of the province and all MPCS branches were re-established while 140 new cooperative societies were registered. Micro credit facilities were provided to farmers and the total amount so given was Rs. 190.3 Mn . Revolving loans to the total amount of 190.3 Mn were given to 6563 families. Over 40,716 houses have been completed under programs of the Government, the Government of India and several NGOs.

Under the major program of rehabilitation and reconstruction of infrastructure, the Mannar bridge and causeway was constructed at an expenditure of Rs. 2460 Mn. Project-wise the amounts spent on reconstruction of railways and roads were: Rs. 1,070 Mn on the A 9 Kandy-Jaffna Road, Rs. 700 Mn on the Murungan-Silawathurai Road and Rs. 220 Mn on the Thiruketheeswaram roads.

Under the on-going rehabilitation/reconstruction of roads projects the estimated expenditures on completion of projects are: Rs. 676 Mn on the Vavuniya-Horawapothana Road, Rs. 2,000 Mn ( WB funded) for the provincial roads in Jaffna, Rs. 398 Mn on the Jaffna-Manipay-Karainagar Road, Rs. 181 Mn on the Jaffna-Pt.Pedro Road, Rs. 1250 Mn on the A 32 Road, Rs. 2854 Mn on the Vavuniya-Mannar Road, Rs. 3600 Mn on the 100 km provincial roads (under MCs and UCs), US $ 776.5 Mn (ADB- Chinese Govt. funded) on national roads, US $ 79 Mn on the 250 km provincial roads and 100 km MC and UC Roads (WB, ADB funded) and Rs. 1140.00 Mn on rural roads. The 260 km Northern railway line was reconstructed by the Government of India.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa recently declared open the newly-built Jetty at Nainativu off-shore island. The cost was Rs. 30 Mn. The wreck removal project at the Kankesanthurai harbour was completed by the Government of India on July 2011.

Under power supply projects, the Vavuniya to Jaffna 132 kV transmission line and two grid substations (Kilinochchi and Chunnakam) were completed at an expenditure of Rs. 6,759 Mn (ADB -JICA funded), The 'Vadakkin Vasantham' distribution development project was completed at Rs. 5,297 Mn (ADB-JICA funded) and transmission project augmentation (Vavuniya Substation) at Rs. 7,024 Mn.

The President officially commissioned the "Uthuru Jananee" Thermal Plant project costing Rs. 3.5 Billion. The total estimated cost on the implementation of the major Jaffna Peninsula Water Supply Scheme is Rs. 20,000 Mn. The Municipal Council Sewerage Scheme (ADB study) costs Rs. 4,725 Mn. The BOI has also approved several projects with foreign investment which would offer employment opportunities to nearly 4,000 persons. Foreign investments in projects on different sectors have also been identified for the Northern province.

In the agricultural sector, cooperative societies of the farmers are working closely with similar societies of the South, mutually marketing agricultural products. In the educational sector too, the Northern province has done extremely well.The PC got Rs. 1,200 Million last year for development work from the central government and a similar amount this year as well. This amount is spent on development work which include construction of buildings, reservoirs, irrigation canals and other important development-related work.

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