Whither the Internally Displaced People at Welikakandy Colony In Chenkalady DS division at Baticoloa District
Posted by NAFSO Convener's Diary Posted on 10:58 AM with 23 comments
Whither the Internally Displaced People at Welikakandy Colony In Chenkalady DS division at Baticoloa District: How Many Times More to Displace? How Many Times More to be Cheated?
Background of the Internally Displaced People at Welikakandy
The first settlers at Welikakandy village were settled under Pullimalai irrigation colony Scheme in 1966. There were 112 families and each family received land permits for 3 acre paddy land, 1 acre land for other crops and ½ acre land for the construction of house. In 1969, the second generation of the original families received another 2 acre land with temporary permits for their lands. At the beginning there were 3 sectors of the colony. All these people were well to do with their income and lived in harmony with the nature. The Pullimalai tank provided water for the agriculture purposes of the Welikakandy colony while excess water nourished the adjacent lands of Kopaweli colony too. Altogether, the Pullimalai tank provided water for more than 450 acres directly and another 450 acre indirectly. The Welikakandy colony was full of crops, such as coconut, mangoes, and other crops related to Baticoloa district.
The difficult time arrived for the Welikakandy people with the communal riots in the country since 1983. In 1983, there were 350 families were living in the village but they didn’t have permanent shelters. But, they were living in peace and harmony in their cadjan thatched and clay wall houses with out any difficulty. Even though they faced some danger due to human elephant co-existence issue, the issue was not serious as every family had the licensed shot gun to prevent the harm from the elephants.
In 1983, when the communal riots began, people who were lived in Pathiyathalawa and displaced, came to Welikakandy and settled there. After that, there were several occasions of arrests, abductions, killings and clashes between military forces of GOSL and LTTE, people were displaced and vacated the village due to fear and protection. By now, Welikakandy people were displaced 5 times. But, all those occasions, people came back to the village as the Welikakandy village provided everything to them but, Kerosene and Sugar.
In 2003, after the CFA between LTTE and GOSL, the displaced people have gone back to the village and resettled there as this is their only source of livelihood as well as their life. People have complaint at the police station and they have the copy of the police complain and there is no compensation given to those people for their damaged houses or their property in which they clearly mentioned in the police report. At that time in 2003, one minster had promised to provide 100,000 rupees for their resettlement and unfortunately, they had received only 25,000 rupees. Also, the same government had promised to provide 75 houses for the people though they had got only 32 houses.
In 2006, once the 4th Eelam war began, the same people at Welikakandy displaced again in Eastern province in the 5th time. There were hundred of displace camps in the Baticoloa district and most of the people from Welikakandy colony were lived at Manipuram camp at Chenkalady.
When the resettlement scheme of the GOSL began, the displaced people were carried by bus from the Manipuram camp and dropped at a certain point as the resettlement scheme of the government. On the 23rd November 2007, the people who are living at Chenkalady, Maha Oya highway, were brought to the area and provided dry rations for 6 months. But, government said, they will provide everything for the re-settlers and compensation under the Awakening the Eastern Province Scheme. So, far there is no proper progress being made for the resettlement for the people in Welikakandy area.
“ Government wanted to resettle us with out having any systematic approach for our resettlement. They want to say that they have resettled almost all the people in the eastern province.” Rafael Antony, the chair Person of the Welikakandy Village Development Committee shared at the meeting on 7th June at Kandy.
The Present Condition of the Displaced People at Welikakandy Colony
There are 350 families were displaced from Welikakandy village in 2007 and only 32 families have been brought to the Welikakandy on 18th June 2009. Others have been settled in different villages close to this area. The affected people are still living in temporary shelters and no hope for future. Before they come to the shelters they lived in the Welikakandy school. By now, 32 families back in the Welikakandy village though their original place is Pullimalai. I.C.R.C has provided roof materials for their shelters. They don't have any other infrastructure facilities such as toilets, drinking water, electricity for them.
Some. School going children are in the hostel. The parent got the permission for the hostel (accommodation) through church priest. Still the affected people are unable to do anything for their livelihood. So the living is the hardest part for them. Month ago these people were being engaged in collecting and selling the firewood from the forest. But now they are unable to do even this work. Now If they want to do this work they have to get the permit form D.S office. They charge 500 rupees per permit and those affected people don't have a such a amount to pay. So now they are in a deep trouble. The government promised to provide corns, paddy seeds, Goats, etc.. But so far nothing given. There is a well built water tank.[Weva] and people had been cultivated their paddy fields through the water supply from the tank. Today, the tank is still in a good condition though the canals are broken. Around 7 ½ Km length canal to be renovated to supply water for their paddy cultivation.
The original houses of the people are covered with jungle due to abandoned for years. Also this village people are affected by Human/ Elephant coexistence issues. So, there is a necessity to clear the jungle and bushes covered in their houses. Also the houses are damaged due to shelling and attacks. So, lot of houses are roofless and need to have a shelter too. So the people are highly disappointed. If they want to go the town they have to travel 32km from this village. They said they don't have even a bicycle so they request us, to provide some bicycles. They said they can do some work through that. It will help their livelihood too. Now they are living in the road side close to Welikakandy. This land is belongs to forest department.
The present condition of the Welikakandy Tank and the abandoned Village
1) The canals were broken in several places. Some places of the canal were closed when the government repaired the access to the village.
2) Welikakandy area totally was covered by bushes.
3) Houses have been broken by Elephants and No Roofs for some of the houses.
4) No drinking water facilities as drinking water wells were not clean.
Major Requests of Village People:
Renovate the canal which is 7 1/2 Km in length,
Build electric fence for protecting them from the Elephants.
Provide basic Infrastructure Facilities, such as houses, toilets and water.
Cleaning their village(Now the Welikakandy area looks like a jungle as confirmed by field visit of SCISL and NAFSO activists]
What the Welikakandy Displaced Community had done so far?
Formed Welikakandy Village Development Society with the participation of 32 families at the beginning and to widen the membership with all the displaced people from the village,
Seek assistance from GS at Welikakandy, DS of Chenkalady, and GA of Baticoloa for the government schemes of the resettlement at Eastern Province,
Approached and got the support from various agencies for clear the bushes at abandoned village, through Sarvodaya, OXFAM, and Caritas-EHED
Participated Shramadana campaign to clear up to 5 Km along the canal as the first step of their resettlement scheme,
Organize a meeting with various agencies, media, NGOs working in the area to draw a community map, [They have already prepared a resource map as well as a map of issues they face] which facilitated by NAFSO, PA and PPD.
Representatives of the community met the DS at Chenkalady and submitted a letter demanding the following;
Main Demands of the people in the Letter were:
1. Renovate the Canal.
2. Build electric fence for protecting people from Elephants.
3. Infrastructure Facilities before they go back to the village at Pullimalai.
The Response from the DS of Chenkalady was;
“Government or any NGO can not do anything, till people resettle in the village”
As a Strategic move, NAFSO/PA/PPD suggested and people were agreed to the people to go back to the Welikakandy during the day time and return to their temporary shelters at Pullimalai during the night as a security measures.
People want to clean their own area as soon as possible and have planned to carry out a Shramadana campaign at the Welikakandy area.
Invited SCISL and NAFSO activists to visit the area and to study, how to organize the future activities including, Shramadana and the other development activities for future.
What are the Next steps of Welikakandy Community Demand from Various Development Agencies:
Renovate the canal at Pullimalai tank,
Provide compensation to renovate the damaged houses,
Build the Electric Fence to Protect from the Elephants attack,
Clean the jungle to access the village,
Provide basic infra structure facilities for decent living after resettlement,