The cabinet of ministers yesterday decided to allocate 33 billion rupees (approximately 30 million US dollars) for rehabilitation and restoration programs in the districts affected by the recent floods and landslides.
The Presidential Task Force appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to direct and monitor the implementation of a well-coordinated and effective programme for the restoration of affected areas.
This Task Force consisting of relevant cabinet ministers and chief ministers of the affected provinces will implement programs to restore properties and livelihood of people in all affected districts through the District Secretariats and Chief Secretaries of provinces.
Proposed rehabilitation programs will be implemented in the flood-affected districts of Batticaloa, Ampara, Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Vavuniya, Mannar, Mullaitivu, and Kilinochchi and in the districts of Badulla, Nuwara-Eliya, Kandy, and Matale that have been affected by heavy rains and landslides.
The Cabinet also has given approval to the District Secretaries and Government Agents of the affected districts to recruit people who lost their livelihoods due to the catastrophic weather to carry out renovation work.
The rehabilitation work will include reconstruction of damaged roads, tanks, tank bunds, and canals and other minor irrigation works.
The persons recruited by the respective Government Agents of the affected provinces will work for four days per week at a rate of Rs. 500.00 per day for a maximum period of two months.
The government has decided to increase relief rates given to affected people immediately. Accordingly a family of 2 or less will receive Rs.500 per week while a family of 3-4 members will receive Rs. 750 per week. A family of more than 5 members will receive Rs. 1000 per week.
The floods in the North, North Central, and Eastern provinces have affected over 1.2 million people and left 3,663 houses totally destroyed. Another 23,653 houses have been partially damaged.
The government said the agricultural road network and provincial and national highway network too have been severely damaged. Around 500 tanks, anicuts and several irrigation systems were also damaged, the Cabinet was informed.
The floods have ruined almost 200,000 out of estimated 700,000 hectares of paddy cultivation during this Maha season resulting in an estimated loss of 800,000 metric tons in paddy crop. The Maha harvest is expected to fall from 1.8 million to 1.0 million metric tons.
To restore the agriculture in the affected districts, the government plans to provide the paddy farmers with seeds free of charge. They will also receive a fertilizer subsidy to purchase fertilizer at subsidized price in the open market.
Also the fertilizer subsidy already announced for coconut will be extended to cover all vegetable crops, the government announced.
According to the government the loss on livestock sector particularly in Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Ampara, and Polonnaruwa districts is estimated to be Rs 1.922 billion as hordes of farm animals have washed away in floods.