India likely to replace China as contractor to build 40,000 houses in North Lanka
Posted on July 25th, 2018

Courtesy NewsIn.Asia

Colombo, July 25 (newsin.asia): India is likely to replace China as the contractor to build 40,000 houses for the war-affected people of North Lanka in view of objections to the current scheme voiced by Tamil political leaders and a section of the Lankan government.

Following a heated discussion in the cabinet on Tuesday, President Maithripala Sirisena asked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to discuss the housing question with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MPs from the Northern Province and the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, to finalize an alternative project.

India likely to replace China as contractor to build 40,000 houses in North Lanka

According to sources, the India-built houses will be made of brick and mortar. The builders are likely  to be Indian companies using buyers‘ credit from the government of India’s financial institutions.  The houses will be environmentally and culturally compatible, unlike the Chinese built houses.

Previously the cabinet had given the green signal to conduct negotiations with the China Railway Beijing Engineering Group Co Ltd and its country representative Yapka Construction (Pvt) Ltd.

Environmental Suitability

According to Sunday Times, the Chinese company had planned to use Autoclaved Lightweight Concrete (ALC) panels and a Light-Gauge Steel (LGS) roofing system. A house could be built in 14 days. The Chinese company was to build 40,000 such houses, at a cost of about US$ 8000 each.

The cabinet had also given the green light to a Consortium of Humanitarian Organizations to build 25,000 traditional brick-and-mortar permanent houses. This group is led by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society.

While the contract to be given to the UN consortium has not been controversial,  the Chinese plan has been found to be environmentally and culturally unsuitable as was the case with the 65,000 pre-fabricated houses which were to be built by the international steel giant, ArcelorMittal, earlier.

Meanwhile, difference of opinion arose between politicians and non-politicians.  Politicians belonging to the Tamil as well as national parties had been wanting to build 65,000 houses before the January 2020 Presidential elections to capture votes in the North even if it meant compromising on durability, comfort and cultural compatibility.

But environmentalists have been opposed to short cuts saying that if houses are to be built, they should be suitable for the climate and culture of the place and long lasting too.

India Factor

In Tuesday’s cabinet meeting , Sagala Ratnayake, Minister of Project Management and a confidante of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, raised another issue, namely, the possibility of alienating India if such a huge project is given to the China in the North Sri Lanka.

India has a strategic interest in North Lanka in view of its close proximity with Tamil Nadu and South India. India has already constructed 50,000 houses there and is going to rehabilitate the Palaly airport and the Kankesanthurai harbor. India will be worried if the Chinese too get to the North and grab a piece of the cake.

Ratnayake’s statement, read together with President Sirisena’s instruction to the Prime Minister to talk to the Indian High Commissioner and TNA MPs about the housing project, indicates that there is bipartisan agreement on how to proceed. Government is therefore expected to  start talks with India soon.

Lack of Coordination

But officials said that talks could be hampered by the lack of coordination in the Sri Lankan government. The subject of housing is handled by a multiplicity of ministries with each ministry claiming to be the nodal one.

One Response to “India likely to replace China as contractor to build 40,000 houses in North Lanka”

  1. Randeniyage Says:

    QUOTE- “India has a strategic interest in North Lanka in view of its close proximity with Tamil Nadu and South India”

    This is a myth we should not keep parroting.
    India has strategic interest in whole of Sri lanka which has nothing to do with Tamil nadu. This is a myth spread by Indians.

    QUOTE “The houses will be environmentally and culturally compatible, unlike the Chinese built houses.”

    Rubbish ! Racism ! Any contractor will build according to the design. Doing few house designs properly will cost nothing compare to 40000 house construction cost. India’s Mittal Group previously built ” culturally incompatible” cheap houses too!

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