Demining East will end soon (Sri Lanka)
The Eastern Province was cleared of 95 percent of the mines that were laid by the LTTE terrorists.
The demining process will be completed by the end of this month and the resettlement program will be completed in May in Trincomalee, Ampara and Batticaloa districts Advisor, Ministry of Nation Building and State Infrastructure Development M.S. Jayasinghe said.
"In Mannar District, demining is going on in 15 Divisional Secretariat divisions. Mines in six divisions have already been cleared and 125 families will be resettled in their original places in Musali area end of this month," he said.
"During the last two decades Sri Lanka has experienced various kinds of explosives including anti-personnel land mines, anti-tank, unexploded ordnances (UXOs) and the country suffered socio economic, environmental, political and cultural set backs due to such dangerous devices. Initial surveys carried out by the Information Management System on Mine Action (IMSMA) found there were about one million land mines and UXOs abandoned in the battle fields, he said.
The cost in removing or demining the explosives were very high. While it cost about three US Dollars to plant a land mine, it costs around US$ 300 to clear a single mine. It was a tedious and dangerous process needing time and patience and was done under difficult conditions", Jayasinghe said.
The Education Ministry in collaboration with UNICEF provided an educational course 'mine risk education' (MRE) to make the people of the war torn areas aware of land mines. In 2003, 53 people suffered injuries from land mines within a month. After the MRE educational program - (36,000 classes were conducted) - the injury rate was reduced to 0.3 per month, he said.
The Japanese Government provided US$ 16 million, half of the cost while Australia, Canada, UK, Switzerland and other donors provided the balance US$ 16 million for demining.
Demining was also going on along the A9 highway - Kandy, Jaffna and A32 highway - Mannar, Pooneryn to make it possible to restart new economic and social life for the people of the North, he noted.
Land mine clearing in north of Medawachchiya - Mannar around Yodha Wewa area was completed.
This major irrigation scheme was to be rehabilitated with Rs. 380 million aid from the World Bank.
Once that area was cleared of mines and developed the old rice bowl of the North will again be cultivated to bring economic prosperity to the people of the North he said.
"We have already been able to bring 131,000 acres of paddy land under the plough after demining was completed in the Eastern Province, he said.
Von: Lakshmi De Silva, Daily News, Sri Lanka, 25.04.2009