Sri Lankan police commandos pile up explosive devices that were recovered from former Tamil Tiger controlled areas in Vavuniya, about 230 kilometers (144 miles) northeast of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009.
The Government has taken the initiative to import more de-mining machines to expedite the de-mining process in the North and to facilitate the speedy resettlement of the displaced civilians now living in welfare centres in the Menik Farm, sources from the Ministry of Nation Building told the Daily News yesterday.
The latest addition to the de-mining activities, five de-mining machines costing Rs. 270 million, will arrive in Sri Lanka from the Republic of Croatia. The five de-mining machines (MV-4 Flail machines) from the Republic of Croatia will be airlifted to Sri Lanka on September 12.
The Police Special Task Force too had engaged in de-mining activities to make the areas in the Vavuniya district safe for the public. The Police Special Task Force engaged in landmine clearing and de-mining operation under the Uthura Vasanthaya program has completed the clearing of a 27 km stretch of road along the Omanthai-Welioya road.
Within a short span of five months, 26,734 anti-personnel mines, 26 land mines, 20 death traps, 31 pressure bomb reels several hard bombs and huge quantity of detonators were removed by the STF team, Officer-in-charge Lal Jayathilake said.
They are now engaged in the operation along the Omanthai-Panikkanai road towards Puliyankulam. Accordingly, the villages of Alankulam, Navakkulum Junction, Sinna Pulleyarkulam.
Kovil Junction, Pulinda Kulam and Nedunkulam along the Omanthai-Welioya road have been made safe areas.
Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Minister Rizard Bathiudeen, Nation Building and Infrastructure Development Ministers Rohitha Abeygunawardena and Minister S.M. Chandrasena are due to receive these five de-mining machines worth Rs.270 million imported from the Republic of Croatia at the Bandaranaike International Airport.
Earlier the Government imported five de-mining machines from Slovakia at a cost of Rs.260 million to expedite the de-mining process in the North.
According to the officials the machines imported will expedite the de-mining activities as only 10 square metres can be de-mined daily through manual work. But these machines can clear 5,000 square metres per day.
“The arrival of these latest machines will expedite the process to speed up the resettlement of displaced civilians in the North with is now at a speedy phase under Uthuru Vasanthaya program implemented by Senior Presidential Advisor and MP Basil Rajapaksa”, Northern Province Governor Major General (Rtd) G.A. Chandrasiri told the Daily News.
He said the Sri Lanka Army and other organizations engaged in de-mining activities have completed the de-mining in the Giant tank area in the Mannar district and handed it over for cultivation.
According to Secretary to Nation Building Ministry W.K.K. Kumarasiri Sri Lanka Army and eight other organisations are engaged in de-mining activities in the North. The work is getting delayed as it is done manually. Meanwhile, the Government is also receiving support from various Governments to expedite the de-mining activities.
The United States is providing training and equipment to the Sri Lanka Army to assist its efforts to de-mine areas in the North.
The training will build additional military capacity to clear mines in the Northern Province and expedite the safe return of people displaced by the war to their homes, a US embassy statement said Wednesday.
The training is being conducted at the Sri Lanka School of Military Engineering at Embilipitiya.
The US Pacific Command also donated personal protection equipment (vest and visors) and de-miner equipment. The cost of the program is estimated to be over $100,000.
This is in addition to the $6.6 million the US recently contributed towards de-mining activities in the Northern Province, which was under LTTE control for years. The Indian Government also sent de-mining teams to Sri Lanka to assist the Sri Lanka Army to expedite the de-mining process.
“This will help the Government to expedite the process of resettling the displaced civilians in their villages within the shortest possible time frame as stipulated by the Government,” the Governor Chandrasiri added.