Saturday, March 23, 2013

Keppapilavu, a model of rural development

Just 200 metres from the village of Keppapilavu lies the historic Nanthikadal lagoon. The villagers from this area were the last batch to come from welfare centres set up for displaced persons in Cheddikulam, Vavuniya so they attracted a lot of attention. Today, this developing village has become a model of rural development, not only to the Maritimepattu DS Division to which it belongs in the Mullaitivu district, but to the entire country.
There are 262 families with 868 members in the village, according to President of the Rural Development Society Rasaiah Parameshwaran. The Grama Niladhari Division to which this village belongs comprises four villages – Sooriyapuram, Keppapilavu, Seeniyamotai and Pelakkudiyirippu. After resettling here, the villagers have formed a Rural Development Society to effectively coordinate the development work.
Resettlement Minister Gunarathne Weerakoon and Deputy Minister Vinayagamurthi Muralidharan at the event

Soldiers of the Army, with funds from the Ministry of Resettlement, are constructing 165 houses in the first phase of the housing project in the village. As of today, 50 completed houses were handed over to the owners. At a special event, the Ministry of Resettlement laid foundation stones for 115 more houses.

Construction work

A completed house Pic: Susantha Wijegunasekera

These houses will be built jointly by the community and the soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army, funded by the Ministry of Resettlement. The Ministry granted Rs. 300,000 for each family to build a house and construction work was carried out by the Sri Lanka Army with community participation. Many houses for the elderly, disabled people and single parent (mother only) families were completely built by the soldiers.Resettlement Minister Gunarathne Weerakoon, Deputy Minister Vinayagamurthi Muralidharan, Ministry Secretary Janaka Sugathadasa, District Secretary Veganayadan, Security Forces Commander (Mullaitivu) Maj. Gen. L.B.R. Mark and several civil administration and military officials were present on the occasion when the foundation stones were laid.
According to Rural Development Society Vice President Pastor Susil Kumar, the Government has allocated land for those families who still live away from the village and the land in front of the model village is cleared for this purpose.
Everyone here lives either by fishing, farming or working for daily wages, said Susil Kumar, explaining how the village works as one unit. “It is through the Rural Development Society that we select families that need to be given priority in receiving welfare assistance,” he explained.
Under the command of the Security Forces Headquarters Mullaitivu, the Army's 592 Brigade is given the responsibility of constructing this village. “Nearly 19 Grama Niladhari Divisions come under the area of responsibility of the 592 Brigade; nearly 20,000 people live in these areas,” said Brigade Commander Brigadier Ranjith Samarasinghe “People of the Keppapilavu village resettled here last September. These are the people who came last from the welfare centres,” Brgd. Samarasinghe said.
For Keppapilavu village, as the initial step, the Army has started the 'Fifty houses in ninety days’ project.

Building houses

The entire project of constructing the village was undertaken by the Army. “As soon as the people came here, the Army constructed temporary shelters for them.
Then, as the community started receiving Government funds, we were able to start building permanent houses for these people. The funds were transferred by the District Secretary through the Divisional Secretary to the people.

Funds from Ministry

The funds were from the Ministry of Resettlement. The material was purchased through the District Secretary and getting them transported to this village was done by us,” he said, detailing the tedious task the soldiers had carried out.
The deeds for the houses being presented to the owners by Security Forces Commander (Mullaitivu) Maj. Gen. L.B.R. Mark

According to the Brigadier, around 100 Army personnel were deployed to construct the houses. “We started the project at the end of November.
During the heavy rains, we could not carry out construction work. That was the only delay, which was two weeks,” he said. The funds for the water supply system for the village came through the Pradeshiya Sabha.
Army personnel have constructed a school through their own efforts and donations from well-wishers.
“There are 70 children studying in this school which has classes up to year five. About one kilometre away there is another school, Vattappalai Vidyalaya, where the older children study. It has classes up to Advanced Level,” he said.
“A well-wisher, contacted through Maj. Gen. Mark, donated 100 bicycles for the children last December,” he said.
“To the families that depend on farming, through the District Secretary, land is given to start cultivation. The Grama Niladhari has the details of the original land extent each person had. So, land of similar size will be given to them from the nearby area called Maligathivu.
“The District Secretary has identified a 100-acre land in that area. These lands are being de-mined,” he said.

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