[ Monday, 14 September 2009, 10:51.23 AM GMT +05:30 ]Lankasri
Sri Lankan government is planning to resettle the people displaced from the areas west of the A-9 Kandy-Jaffna highway first before tackling the eastern areas of Wanni region as the demining in Mannar and Kilinochchi areas are coming to a completion with the recent addition of 10 automatic demining machines to the mine clearing operations.
In an interview to the local daily, Island, the Northern Province Governor Major General (retd) G. A. Chandrasiri has said that the army and five demining agencies had been engaged in mine clearing operations in the Giant Tank (Yoda Wewa) area in Mannar District. According to Army officials clearing the eastern region of Wanni would be a daunting task due to the heavy mining by the fleeing LTTE rebels. The soldiers engaged in clearing operations in the areas of Puthukkudyiruppu and Mullaitivu are still recovering massive stockpiles of buried arms and explosives.
The Governor hopes that an area of about 7,000 acres north of Giant Tank could be cleared by the third week of October. By the end of October approximately 14,000 acres would be ready to receive civilians, both south (South of the Vavuniya-Mannar main road) and north of Yodawewa, the Island reported. The area, known as the "rice bowl" of the region provided the main livelihood of the residents in the area before the military offensive. The military brought the area, which mainly consists of the Island's most fertile paddy fields, under its control in July 2008. The majority of the displaced from this area was Muslims chased away by the LTTE.
The governor of Northern Province said that about 5,000 people have been released from the camps in Jaffna leaving about another 5,000 at the camps.
According to Major General Chandrasiri, the government plans to release another 10,000 IDPs by end of this week from the camps in Vavuniya. This will reduce the total number of IDPs in the welfare camps to about 237,000, he said.