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UNP demands ownership of housing be transferred to estate workers

2013 Jul 10

by Dasun Edirisinghe

 The UNP yesterday demanded the transfer of full ownership of houses and lands provided to estate workers by the government since 1995.

Addressing a media conference in Colombo, UNP parliamentarian R. Yogarajan said that the then People’s Alliance government had provided loans to build houses through the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) on seven-perch plots in the hill country.

Estate workers had obtained Rs. 100,000 each as a loan to build their houses and the ownership of lands and homes were scheduled to be transferred to them through deeds after the recovery of the loans in 10 years. But that had not happened even eight years after completing the re-payments.

Yogarajan said that the government had transferred the ownership of the lands and houses to people in other parts of the country.

"I raised the issue several times in Parliament during the last two years and the subject ministers promised to solve the problem after consulting the Land Reform Commission (LRC)," he said adding that nothing had happened so far.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa had promised 50,000 houses for estate workers to replace line rooms in 2006, but so far only 4,200 houses had been completed, Yogarajan said.

The national list MP said that EPF holders could obtain housing loans against their EPF deposits as a guarantee, but such loans were provided only to those who had the deeds to their lands.

Therefore, the estate workers had lost that opportunity as well, Yogarajan said, adding that six generations of estate workers had contributed to the national economy but the government had neglected them for years.

"Seven MPs from the estate sector support this government, but none of them do anything to solve the housing problem of estate people," he said.

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