19 September, 2020

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Friday Forum Wants Scheme To Build 65,000 Houses Stopped Because ‘Project Can Alienate Minority Community’

The Friday Forum has called on the Government to immediately halt the controversial 65,000 housing project in the North and East, while emphasizing upon the need to consult the communities concerned and systematically review the options available for suitable housing and a process of construction most beneficial to the affected communities and the public interest.

MSIn a statement issued today, the Friday Forum, an informal and self-financed group dedicated to democracy, good governance, human rights and the rule of law said that the deeply questionable scheme for prefabricated steel houses on some of the most vulnerable in Sri Lanka’s minority communities, risks alienating the very people it is meant to benefit, and jeopardizing the Government’s reconciliation efforts.

“The Cabinet Decision in September 2015 that 65,000 houses be built by the government for war- affected people was commendable. However both the manner and the consequences of the awarding of the contract to Arcelor Mittal, a multinational company building prefabricated steel houses, have rightly attracted public concern and serious criticism,” the statement said.

The forum noted that the 65,000 house construction project is one of the few substantial development projects put forward by the current Government for the war-affected Northern and Eastern provinces, and the project will also be seen as a litmus test for the Government’s commitment towards reconciliation.

“Rising local and national opposition to this housing project has raised the following issues: transparency and haste in tendering process; manipulation by vested interests in decision-making; significantly greater cost of steel housing over conventional alternatives; colossal 1 billion USD national debt to be incurred; denial of the secondary benefits to local construction industry and local labour that would accompany a more customary scheme; culturally and practically inappropriate design that does not match community lifestyle and preferences; unknown durability of steel housing under Sri Lankan conditions, challenges for locally-sourced maintenance by residents, and over-hasty and confusing applications processes for this scheme being implemented at district level,” the statement added.

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  • 22
    2

    Friday Forum,

    Why do you guys spend all your time working on inconsequential, politically safe nonsense?

    Why can’t you come up with a scheme to reduce the number of politicians to 120 – 20 ministers and 100 MPs. That’s the most important thing for the country; more than a new constitution. If you guys start the ball rolling I am sure the entire country will give it overwhelming support.

    The biggest problem in SL is there are too many politicians. Hence too much politics.

    In the million jobs he is going to create, Ranil should find alternative employment for politicians.

    • 11
      1

      99% of the voters will definitely agree to reduce the number of mp’s even to 50. And cabinet ministers….20…….? Do we need such a large number of donkeys, for example that asshole named Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. In my sixty years of existence I have never wished to meet any of these mp/minister quadrupeds. I have lost nothing. We need an Executive run by qualified and experienced professionals. So, a Cabinet of ten politician-ministers with each ministry divided subject wise and each sub-division comprising professionals, headed by a non-political CEO, will be the ideal arrangement.

      This is not going to happen just like that. The quadrupeds will do everything to prevent it. People will have to take to the streets to demand this and surround Parliament and the parliamentarian-goons until it gets done. But they will want information – particularly of government expenses.

      So, anyitem of expense should be posted on a public forum before it is incurred; to act as a deterrent against paga taking. For example if a stink-hole like Kumarasinghe wants US$5000 per month (source: Lankaenews) as rent allowance, the people should know, because they will want to parade him on Galle Face Green and to demand that he explain why.

      I totally agree Friday Forum should be involved in this kind of work, without engaging in abstract masturbation.

      Good luck Sri Lanka.

      • 6
        1

        We don’t even need a parliament. If a strong disciplined accountable organized statutory body represents govt. dept.’s are given the responsibility of managing the administrative affairs,then elected representatives from provinces would be sufficient to involve in policy making via a simple political system. When ordinary people are not entitled to get pension till 55/60 years, how the hell it can be justified for parliamentarians to get pension after 5 year term? Are they entitled constitutionally? What is equal rights? FF is encouraged to talk on everything unjustifiable to highlight all the shortcomings of our idiotic politicians.

    • 2
      1

      The steel-house project is a shrewd initiative by Mittal and India, arising not from the concerns about Sri Lanka’s homeless, but rather as an opportunistic move, as China burdens Indian steel manufacturing by dumping steel as global metal prices tanked.

      Mittal and India were just looking for gullibles – and found plenty in this Island of wise-men!

  • 4
    0

    Devolving Power???

    What does it mean????

    • 1
      0

      Appoint more ministers. What Rajapaksa did Sirisena is repeating. It is Sinhala politics .

  • 12
    8

    Here is the steel housing brag video produced by Arcelor Mittal:
    http://corporate.arcelormittal.com/news-and-media/multimedia-gallery/video-gallery/key-material-for-the-residential-mkt-of-tomorrow

    Arcelor Mittal is of course owned by the wealthiest Indian in the world. Did New Delhi have a hand in this? Just wondering.

    Cheers!

    • 5
      4

      Ben a Hurling,’

      Thanks for the link. What is claimed is largely true. Please see the link I have provided above. Although it is of a commercial kind, it provides a wealth of scientific information and cost estimates. The costs become lower, as the size of an order increases.

      Dr.RN

      • 3
        6

        What link? I can’t see any link posted by you. Please re-post it for our information.

      • 5
        3

        Wooif woof for ballu dosthara,

        “The costs become lower, as the size of an order increases.””

        fishermans brain-
        its not just trawler fishing and dirty rags.

        Only Saddam was able to fix the amount and the Brits did it- But he beheaded his mayor only for taking a bribe.

      • 2
        2

        Houses made os tell are not suitable for the hot NE weather condition.

        • 0
          0

          rajesh,

          put the house on stilts run a water channel right round- would keep it cooool.

          If someone can be clean then lift it high enough and it creates a verandah underneath. Imagination is the limit- do not refuse what you getting but grab it all because nationalist are JJJJ.

      • 3
        2

        Any one who has travelled in buses or cars or by train in/to Jaffna must have experienced how they get roasted in side the bus/car/train within a short time.

        Living in a steel house day in day out the people will get roasted
        The Sinhala Govt is clever to send these people voluntarily to the roasting oven to exterminate them
        Hitler did it forcibly to the Jews by sending them to the gas chambers.

        The issues raised here are that there is not enough natural material, not enough skilled labour, not enough time etc etc

        So here is on Solution, instead one solution, instead of building unsuitable long term accommodation, provide short term accommodation like a dormitory or campus style accommodation

        While building suitable houses using local material and labour and moving out people on a needy basis

        • 0
          0

          don’t think of it as dormitory because it would be forgotten.There are sufficient ways to do it once they get into – necessity mother of invention.
          Why do you wear talapa they could plant shady margosa (keep mosquito off)or ever green which act as wind breakers too.

    • 5
      5

      Ben
      ”Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa once told the then Indian High Commissioner, who complained to him that the contract for the extension of the Colombo harbour had been given to China, not to worry too much as the next extension contract would be given to India. That was his simplistic ‘Non Aligned’ policy of balancing the competing geo-political interests in Sri Lanka between India and China………………………………………
      Sri Lanka is trying to ‘balance’ this about-turn on the Port City project by assuaging India’s concerns — pledging to enter into economic agreements (ETCA), huge housing projects in the North being given to Indian origin companies, ambulance services and ignoring the ‘irritants’ such as the poaching issue in the Northern waters of the island by Indian fishermen. ……… ………………”
      – Cash-strapped Govt. turns to China, 3April 2016, http://www.sundaytimes.lk/160403/editorial/cash-strapped-govt-turns-to-china-188531.html

      • 0
        0

        Punitham,
        Dont shroud it more there is much stupidity and corruption at your home SL than the turn key contractor has to face and the final occupant.
        You have not associated technically with multinational corps
        you are bragging about geopolitics where Presidents really don’t matter
        – Presidents come and go while the corps compete with each other and run the world where money is simply plastic- surreal.
        Indian Tech and business is not at war with chinese but complement each other.
        There are billion dollar enterprises at china owned by Indian and they do speak Mandarin too like present Indian Foreign Sec

    • 2
      0

      Ben Hurling,

      Sri Lankan Ben Ambani i s the richest and fourth in the world while Mittal has dropped from 8-12 position check Forbes wealthiest.

      It is funded by venture capitalist.

    • 1
      0

      Ben,
      He does not need New Delhi he is Prince Charles neighbour at Kensington and gives charity to Prince fund.
      .
      yes its a video of their business set up which is wide and varied.
      65 K low cost is too small but a starter pack.
      Have you seen the High-rises of Abu Dhabi during the 70’s- they came up in 100’s N,S,E,W, by american Corps. There is no human scale its not for living

      You won’t find any link anywhere until it takes off- perhaps an artist impression just before manufacture on accepted order.
      That is the practice norm.

  • 2
    3

    Illogical conclusion. If 3x 65,ooo applications have received for these houses so far and a large number had visited the model house displaced, how can the conclusion to terminate the project, become logical?

    Where are they going to find the qualified and dedicated craftsmen and helpers hoy do the job fast? It is Alessandro difficult to find good crafts for even a simple repair job in our homes. ZBiilding contractors are already handicapped on this score.

    This is ‘Ivory Tower’ talk, which comes cheap!

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 4
    2

    This housing scheme will go on. Swaminathan will be spending his old age in Welikada for the kickbacks when the Yahapal naya goes down under.

    • 2
      2

      Patriot
      Not long ago, Minister DMS came up with interesting arithmetic to explain how the original pricing at Rs 1 M+ shot up to Rs 2 M+. He said that it was because the SLR exchange rate for the US$ moved up from 120+ to 130+.

      Dr RN
      If housing is seemingly free, I am sure people will apply from all over by the million.
      As a people we will glady accept a stomach ache if it is free.
      I wonder which imbecile will pay Rs 2.1 M (quite cheap!) out of his pocket for an air-conditioned steel cubicle, even with all fittings.

  • 7
    2

    Friday Forum’s request is a welcome move. The Governments inierest in building 65000 is undobtedly welcome towards reconcilliation. Reconciliation is not only about material. It involves primarily people and in this case the Tamil people and representatives of Tamil people. In this regard, proper consultation with the people and people representatives, proper social cost benefit analysis, environmental implications etc. should have been considered. It appears that in this case the primary factor was completely neglected by the government, that is no consultation with the beneficiaries or with the provincial administration. Of course you would have got 200, 000 applications of a house worth 2 million as a gift is not surprised. How many of them are capable of managing these houses? Do they have sufficient income to maintain these luxary houses? These are the people who lost everything including land, houses, employment, and income. Most of them have lost their partners or children. These people needed a decent house to live and manage and to generate income for their well being. Out of the two million, if you save at least 0.5 million from each house you have 32500 million to invest in income generating opportunities. Think about who need these houses and their requirements rather than the interest of a millionaaire contractor.

  • 1
    1

    A Leading member of the Friday Forum is Jayantha Dhanapala-Ex:UN staffer!
    He was on the Board of the Dialog when the CT was blocked by MaRa several months ago!
    I was told recently that he was holding a brief for the UN-HABITAT to take over the construction of the 65,000 houses construction on their Methodology.
    In fact this is the second Pontifical statement on this issue.
    The Friday Forum will meet this Friday as well eh?

    • 0
      0

      If there is a second tender too from French collaboration they it is all the better.

      Don’t worry about Dhanapala-Ex:UN the nation of corruption has enough like him.

      REinze Peiris was the commission agent (5%) for Mahawali for JR.
      J. Tamil was commission agent for sirisena and Premadasa.5%

  • 2
    1

    Yahapalana Govt is incurring USD 1 Billion debt by constructing these houses which are supposed to house the Dalitsb in the North and the east ?

    What about the Dalits in the South, and the west?

    Didn’,t Hindians promise 50000 houses too?.

    Wouldn’t that make it 115 thousand in total , when there are only 80 thousand War widows according to diaspora accounts which the Yahaplana Govt is working on?

    Are the the other 25’000 houses for the disabled LTTE Fighters?

    The PhD Economics minister Who couldn’t work out how the growth in the North was 22 percent when the National Average was only 8 , said the other. Day that USD 6.85 Billion the Singaporean borrowed,was to pay the debts of the previous Govt.

    If that is the case this USD 1 Billion shouldn’t,t be an issue as all the Freeways, Mattala, Hamabantota and even the Port City must be debt free now ..Right?,

    Will the Yahapalana President borrow another USD 1 Billion to give free houses to the Dalits in the South and the West?

    Or Sira only wants to change our Dalitsb to act as Yahapalana suckers while living in their mud huts? B

    • 4
      2

      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      “The PhD Economics minister Who couldn’t work out how the growth in the North was 22 percent when the National Average was only 8 “

      Please educate us. How do you measure growth in a particular region?

    • 2
      1

      “”Will the Yahapalana President borrow another USD 1 Billion to give free houses to the Dalits in the South and the West?””

      It has to wait because they are a had not have not
      These were destroyed in the civil conflict where the majority backed by world destroyed their homes and life.

      Prototype: If you are patient and the world sees this project taking off then impressed the world would fund it but for free.

    • 1
      0

      KAS,

      “Wouldn’t that make it 115 thousand in total , when there are only 80 thousand War widows according to diaspora accounts which the Yahaplana Govt is working on?”

      I also don’t know where they have found such a huge number of homeless families. Where have 195000 families applied for the 65000 houses? What is their reason for needing a house?

      My main question as a land owner in the North is where and on whose land are all these houses going to be built? It is a well known fact that the remaining IDPs (32000 of them?) are mostly landless.

      • 2
        1

        Lone Wolf

        potuvil, the president says: if you can’t keep the tamils happy then the sinhalese can never be happy- a very positive powerful statement.
        now think it over.

        • 1
          0

          Dragons,

          Is Yahapalana President making the Sinhalese happy giving the LTTE and it’s supporters, sympathisers and financiers 65000 Mittal houses and 50000 Hindians Govt houses?

          Good luck.

          But even before building them ,the president can,t even send his stooges to address the villagers in the South, because they are pissed off watching the carnage inflicted on the Economy, Escalting staple food prices, abuse of The inhabitants by the UNP police and denigration of Buddhist Monks who don,,t chant Seth Pirith to Big Ass Bath Gottas.

          • 0
            0

            K A Sumanasekera .

            Economy, Escalting staple food prices, abuse of The inhabitants by the UNP police and denigration of Buddhist Monks who don,,t chant Seth Pirith to Big Ass Bath Gottas.

            K A Sumanasekera

            Everyone even on CT just higjacked the election now they are screaming over the top bodhi sira this that and when we ask they they go for cover.

            20 years ago A traditional bassunna and his family of 4 builds a home brick, tile verandaha 275 sq ft with septic tank in a polwatta for a Sinhala woman who has returned from ME with just $2500 after 4 years of work. He quoted and completed it for Rs 55k in 8 days. This is only a prototype but cannot be used in mass scale as all families are not bassunnas. How many of your ME returns??
            What the French (they think similar to Chinese ; see their food habits;) While you and most are thinking like the English- complain complain & voila compensation;). (who don’t have even proper food compared to the 2 Indian curry is British curry)
            What the French are providing are shipping containers (sea port city Dindong, Swiss container traffic or Rotterdam, Hamburg) because there is no way even to complete a complete home of 1000 in 3 years with prefab units anywhere in the world. Whether you are American Sinhala or Tamil each and every person lives to their liking so they get basic now develop- it’s the same when we buy industrial goods TV, PC Car- accessories cost extra- because we all are different.
            They are displaced and it’s a dirty disgrace to all Sri lankans (its like Sinhalese ate the food but did not tidy the place and left it stagnant and pungent) Therefore once these containers have been delivered the whole nation gets its self-respect and the world at large will fund the nation where 80% are Sinhalese.- then you have your home for Dalits. Don’t stop it! Arts graduates are protestors that blow the top off everything for the sake of it.- lawyers, economist social workers, and even some scientist. So keep them happy for your own good.- count your blessings. So I like what he said.

  • 4
    0

    Ajith, good analysis. You know one thing some people never listen to others facts, they stick to what they said is correct like where ever you hit a dog it will raise its leg. These houses are not suitable at all for North due to various reasons. Rajasingham, these houses are not suitable for North for various reasons. Did you see any new houses built in western countries are prefabricated. Once up on a time, there were per-cast assembled buildings and there is no demand for them now and every one like to live in brick built houses – not in these rubbish. Only demand for these panels are for commercial buildings like airport, train station etc. where a group of cleaners and a maintenance gang work all round the year. North people can not afford AC or no money for regular maintenance. The suitable house for North is by concrete blocks and timber roof – you do not need highly skilled workers to build a single storey house (shed)

  • 2
    0

    What happened to the proposal to award construction of the houses to a French firm?
    Any house constructed should have ventilation, else they will be too warm to live in.
    It is the plan of each house that matters, not so much as the material used.
    Why not consult our construction engineers and decide.
    In the west, all living units from single ones to tall multistoried condominiums have steel skeletons supporting individual units made of wood and plastic materials.

    • 0
      0

      Justice,
      Yes, ventilation, ventilation and more ventilation is the key to comfortable living in the tropics. Until we took to living in concrete boxes, our houses had good ventilation. Cool air entered through doors and windows and exited through a steep-angled roof made with cadjan and later clay tiles. At least the contractor should install a tiled roof on these houses.

  • 1
    2

    Why the hell does anyone want to construct 65,000 individual houses in this day and age given that it is not even on the land belonging to the occupants? Several nicely designed multi-storey (can be just 3 or 4 storey) blocks would be far more pleasing to the eye, cost effective, and pragmatic.

  • 3
    1

    I am not sure who the Friday Forum and comprised of whom. The Northern provincial Council is the sole authority to determine the suitability of these pre fabricated houses in the North and East. It is reliably learned that someone is getting a very good commission out of this project which is in Panama Offshore Banks. Let Mr.Swaminathan Minister for Resettlement and Mrs. Vijeyakala Maheswaran Deputy minister of Women’s’ affairs who are Ranil’s poodles answer these question

    • 0
      0

      Sellam,

      “I am not sure who the Friday Forum and comprised of whom.”

      Please use a search engine.

      “The Northern provincial Council is the sole authority to determine the suitability of these pre fabricated houses in the North and East.”

      Should not the people choose? Since when does the NPC decide on anything in the Eastern Province?

      “It is reliably learned that someone is getting a very good commission out of this project which is in Panama Offshore Banks. Let Mr.Swaminathan Minister for Resettlement and Mrs. Vijeyakala Maheswaran Deputy minister of Women’s’ affairs who are Ranil’s poodles answer these question”

      Where are your reliable sources?

      I also suspect corruption but that is just my hunch. Don’t think that NPC would do any better.

      Think positively: maybe you can sell your land or receive a steel house free of charge to be used when you visit Jaffna.

  • 0
    0

    Senthil.

    Have you worked out the amount of Roof Timber[wooden] required for 65,000 Houses?
    How about the door frames and sashes?
    Before anything else,what is the Time frame for completion?
    I do agree the conventional house building process with cement blocks,Timber[Palmyrah/coconut] and calicut Tiles is the ideal!
    But look mate; Is present day Jaffna with its devastated economy,values and worse still the paucity of materials required for a massive project of this size be able to cope up?
    Actually,Timber is very scarce in the country with heavy deforestation!
    Importing Timber will push the the unit cost higher!
    By the way,I am not holding a brief for the Contractor!!!

    • 0
      0

      “”Before anything else,what is the Time frame for completion?”
      Its like going into a shop and buying a TV. Only A/M can do that because banks have to borrow to lend to the other 14 bidders.
      A/M is to complete in 10 years then like the TV pay and enjoy- that is what I see.
      There are commission kakkas but that is Lankan culture now like the Chinese.

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 3
    0

    Over US$ 20,000 for a prefabricated house with comforts in a tropical place for war affected people- take it or leave it approach! Are they trying to prove that humans are nothing but animals in not learning from the expensive lessons? God bless these politicians and businessmen with more wisdom. Few individuals with nested or vested interests don’t realize the impact of this decision on the long run on the country, her people and the image of Sri Lanka in the world. The country showed a way to entire developing world that a million houses in two years can only be built by people and nothing but people. Senior Premadasa who showcased social housing of Sri Lanka as a model for the world would have been shocked by this! It is just a flawed process and a flawed product that is Ecologically, Economically, Socially and Technically neither suitable nor sustainable!The country has ample experts to prove it and come up with alternatives.

  • 2
    0

    So the experts have spoken: http://www.sundaytimes.lk/160417/news/mittals-65000-steel-houses-under-fire-from-lankan-experts-189986.html

    Unless someone here is willing to discredit the experts with evidence, it is obvious that this entire project is a sham and everyone involved should be sent packing.

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