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Officials Ordered To Distribute Saudi Built Homes
Published Date: 05/10/2017 (Thursday)

by Indika Sri Aravinda

President Maithripala Sirisena has ordered the relevant officials to distribute tsunami houses constructed in Akkaraipattu by the Saudi Arabian government.

The President had last week met officials of the Attorney General’s Department and others and instructed them to secure the release of the houses to be distributed in January to Muslim families.

He had also said that he will seek the assistance of the Saudi government to renovate the houses if required.

The Attorney General and former Government Agent of Ampara were last week summoned by President Maithripala Sirisena to discuss the controversial Saudi sponsored tsunami housing project.  Some 500 houses built for tsunami affected families had remained unoccupied in Ampara owing to a legal battle.

The houses had become uninhabitable due to the suspensionof distributing them to the beneficiaries according to a court order in 2009.

The court order was a result of a petition filed by the members of Deeghavapiya Surakeeme Sanvidhanaya and the Venerable Ellawala Medhananda Thera, chief priest of the Deegavapiya Rajamaha Vihara the Venerable Nannapurawe Buddha -Rakkhitha Thera, the Venerable Dr. Omalpe Sobitha Thera and the Ampara Mahavaapi Vihara chief priest, the venerable Kirindiwela Somarathana thera.

Former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva in his judgment at that time had declared that the allocation of State land or housing units from government Land Development and Housing Projects without complying with the provisions of the Constitution and Land Development Ordinance violated the petitioner’s fundamental right to the freedom of thought, conscience and religion as well as equality and equal protection of the law.

The Kingdom and Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2006 to build 1,000 housing units for the people affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Ampara. Following the tsunami in Sri Lanka, the Kingdom sent eight flights of relief materials and pledged to construct the houses for the survivors of the disaster.

The housing project funded by a non-governmental organisation in Saudi Arabia for the tsunami affected people in the Ampara District constructed at the Norochcholai village in Akkaraipattu was suspended on a court order prior to the houses being distributed amongst the beneficiaries.

A group of Muslim parliamentarians had urged President Maithripala Sirisena to intervene and have the houses released to the beneficiaries.

Leader of National Unity Alliance Azath S. Salley told The Sunday Leader the President had called for a meeting last week with the Attorney General and former Government Agent of Ampara to discuss the issue.

 Source: Sunday Leader


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