Displaced Lankan Tamils cash in on MEA’s scheme

Implementing a direct cash transfer scheme seems to be a tedious job only at home if the Ministry of External Affairs is to be believed.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published: April 4, 2013 1:23:49 am

Implementing a direct cash transfer scheme seems to be a tedious job only at home if the Ministry of External Affairs is to be believed. The MEA has been transferring cash to build houses for internally displaced Tamils in war-ravaged north and eastern Sri Lanka successfully for the last six months.

The project was rolled out on October 2,2012 and since then the government has spent Rs 100 crore. With this money,over 11,379 Tamils spread across Jaffna,Kilinochchi,Mannar,Mullattivu and Vavuniya have started building their own houses.

After the war between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan forces got over in 2009,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2010 announced the decision to build 50,000 houses for displaced Tamils. After building 1,000 houses,New Delhi found that it took almost two years to build the houses. Apart from the slow pace,they also got complaints about the construction of these houses.

It then that the South Block decided to give money directly to the remaining 49,000 Tamils so that they could build their own houses. The government decided to give 5.5 lakh Sri Lankan rupees (about Rs 2.3 lakh) to each Tamil family. But the entire cash was not transferred at one go and was given in four instalments based on the progress of the construction.

The progress was to be verified by four implementing agencies. They were UN-HABITAT,International Federation of Red Cross along with Sri Lanka Red Cross,National Housing Development Agency and Habitat for Humanity,Sri Lanka.

As on March 31,of the 11,379 people who have started building houses,3,448 have got the second instalment,741 third instalment and 500 have completed their construction.

MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the “ownership-driven model” is unique and it is for the first time that India’s development assistance has followed this route. Sources said the project aims to empower women by encouraging the male owners to register their properties under joint ownership.

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