Both local and foreign experts yesterday called Sri Lanka’s mine clearance programme, the most efficient in the world. As per an initial survey carried out by authorities it was estimated that there may be about one million landmines and unexploded ordnances(UXOs) in the abandoned battle fields, at the end of the conflict in 2009.
In addition it was estimated that a 6,215 square kilometre land area may be contaminated with mines. Today more than 80 per cent of the contaminated land area has been cleared and over 770,000 devices have been recovered. This has paved the way for the rapid resettlement of over 300,000 displaced persons in their native lands and has contributed to rapid progress in all sectors and the return to normalcy of the said areas.
“Since 2009 the areas abandoned due to landmine and explosive remnants of war contamination have been cleared, including paddy land (101,827 hectares), water bodies (29,999) hectares, A class roads (538 km), and railway lines (263 Km)”, Director National Mine Action Centre Monty Ranatunge said addressing an event to mark “International Day for Mine Awareness; Assistance to Mine Action” at the Foundation Institute.
An exhibition and a forum on the achievements of the National Mine Action programme were held under the patronage of Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Representatives of UN and other relevant international and local organizations, High Commissioners, Ambassadors and other stakeholders attended.
Addressing the gathering, Ranatunge further said that Sri Lanka’s success in the mine action programme was due to the high priority and continued technical and financial support given by the government and the support it received from the international community.
UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Subinay Nandy said that the action taken by the government with the help of others in clearing land mines has produced remarkable results.
He said that, due to efforts there has been a significant drop in reported incidents and casualties over time. He assured UN’s continued support to the government to make Sri Lanka – mine free. Coordinator, Sri Lanka Campaign to Ban Land mines Prasana Kuruppu said that Sri Lanka’s initiative today is considered the most efficient mine clearance programmer in the world.
The country is very close to achieving its goal of being a mine free country, he noted.
Minister Rajapaksa on the occasion also launched the new website of the National Mine Action Programme, Sri Lanka.