The Military said nearly all areas in the former conflict zone excepting for 96 square kilometres had been cleared of landmines and could be now used for resettlement purposes.
Military spokesman Ruwan Wanigasuriya said out of an area of 2,064 square kilometres identified as hazardous we have cleard 1,968 Sq. Km thus leaving only 96 Sq. Km to be cleared.
The Army and demining groups have removed some 500,000 anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines, and numerous other forms of improvised explosive devices during this process. The total thus recovered is said to be about one million.
“We have also cleared areas that are essential for development to take place. If not for our success in the demining front, the activities now being carried out in the North and East would not have been possible,” Brigadier Wanigasuriya said.
He said the post-conflict demining operation was not without cost. Apart from heavy financial commitments from the Government, the UN, and other non-governmental partners, many lives and limbs were sacrificed in the process of mine clearing. During the demining process a soldier was killed and more than 15 injured.
“To understand its value, what we achieved in demining should be viewed through the global scenario where countries, which had not undergone such a protracted conflict, are still struggling with the menace of mines,” Brigadier Wanigasuriya said.
He said in some countries mines were still causing casualties even two or three decades after conflict resolution. “Mine clearing is a great challenge because of its high risk and that is why what we have achieved is so valuable,” the Brigadier said.
In June 2009, a month after the defeat of LTTE terrorism, the Government with the support of donor countries like Australia, Japan, China, India, the EU, the US, UNDP, UNICEF, national and international mine action groups implemented a comprehensive and rapid de-mining programme to clear 2,064 square kilometers of land, which had been heavily mined during the 30-year conflict.