The option of building 65,000 pre-fabricated steel houses for conflict-affected people in the Northern and Eastern Provinces has been termed by a panel of experts as a “fair solution”.
The panel, drawn from the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Peradeniya, studied two model houses in Jaffna before arriving at its conclusion.
Apart from pointing out that housing is an “urgent need” for those who were displaced due to the civil war, it cited limited availability of construction materials to support its finding.
Controversy over project
The housing project has become controversial for a number of reasons. Sections of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and civil society activists have been opposing it on the grounds of cost, unsuitability, and lack of consultation with stakeholders.
Though the government chose ArcelorMittal Construction as the executing agency, it also decided a couple of weeks ago that President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would take a close look at merits and demerits of the project before proceeding further.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Rehabilitation, Resettlement approached the University to conduct an “academia-driven independent assessment” on the project.
The panel, which submitted its report early this month, suggested improvements in the existing design of the proposed houses.
The government has also made public a reply of the executing agency dated May 10. (Hindu)