Working towards reinvigorating ties with its Southern neighbour, India has committed to build 50,000 houses for internally displaced people in Sri Lanka, according to an official announcement in Lok Sabha. The house was informed of the government’s decision on December 8.
The Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said in reply to a written question that, “the project envisages construction of new houses and repair of damaged houses and it is being implemented through two models, agency driven and owner-beneficiary driven. The beneficiaries of the housing project are identified through a consultative process.” As per the information received from the state governments of Tamil Nadu and Odisha, a total of 1,01,368 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees are presently staying in the country, Mr Rijiju said.
“There has been no organised repatriation of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees since 1995,” Mr Rijiju added. The Sri Lankan government has released nearly 2,000 acres of land to internally displaced persons in the Northern and Eastern provinces, he stated in his address to the Lok Sabha.
Reinvigorating India-Sri Lanka relations
During her meeting with the visiting Sri Lankan Foreign Minister in January 2015, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had urged the Sri Lankan government to create conducive environment for Sri Lankan refugees to return to Sri Lanka. There were subsequent high level visits between leaders of both countries with the newly elected Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s visit to India in February followed by the Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit in Septmeber 2015. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also visited Sri Lanka in March 2015 signalling India’s commitment to reinvigorate ties between the two countries
“The Sri Lankan government has been extending facilities, including education, civil documentation and medical services to any returning Sri Lankan citizen after staying as refugee, including in India,” Mr Rijiju said.
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