President Chandrika Kumaratunga yesterday (Jan 13) chaired the meeting of the National High Level Committee for Disaster Relief. The assembly examined in detail the adequacy of relief supplies and the current status reconstruction in the tsunami-hit areas. With continued assistance from the Government, the number of relief centres in many Districts - including Kilinochchi - has decreased. State and private lands have been identified for new housing complexes and individual houses for the displaced.
The Government Agents and District Secretaries from the affected Districts in North East, Southern and Western Provinces expressed satisfaction at the immediate relief measures put in place after 26/11 catastrophe. They said there were sufficient food stocks and drinking water sent to them to feed families housed in temporary camps. President directed the GAs to also make available a balanced nutritious diet for the displaced. The Commissioner General of Essential Services Mr. Tilak Ranaviraja was assigned to coordinate this.
Government Agents reported that the security personnel attached to relief centres were acting under their instructions and were working in cooperation with the civilian manager of each camp. North East Governor Tyrone Fernando said all relief centres in the Province follow similar procedures.
Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration said he would send adequate number of Tamil-speaking officers to the North East including Mullaitivu and Ampara Kachcheris which are handicapped due to shortage of staff. Some of the officers were themselves affected by the disaster. The President said even retired officers may be opted initially for a period of one month to assist in the relief operations.
President asked all Government Agents and District Secretaries to list out their immediate requirements and then directed officials in Colombo to expedite their requests. Accordingly, Mullaitivuís GA is to be provided with a satellite phone and vehicles to speed up relief and rehabilitation measures. Bulldozers and other heavy equipment which are required to expedite removing debris will be moved in from other areas.
Secretary of the Highways Ministry was instructed to accelerate the reconstruction of Kali Odi and Arugam Bay bridges in the Eastern Province. Kali Odi Bridge is to be completed by 30 April 2005 with the assistance of the Army.
Shop-keepers in affected areas have indicated their willingness to recommence business until they are provided with alternative land, even in temporary sheds. All Government Agents were requested to submit information with regard to the number of tents required for such retail shop owners. The Urban Development Authority was directed to commence work on permanent structures for shops in Galle District within one week. Matara District Secretary H. G. S. Jayasekera suggested relocating the Central Market to its previous location in consultation with the UDA.
Prime Minister, several Cabinet Ministers, the Deputy Leader of the UNP,
leaders of other political parties, the Secretary to the President, the
service chiefs and senior state officials attended yesterdayís meeting.
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