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Matara soon a new vibrant city

by Chamikara Weerasinghe, Thihagoda and Matara Group Correspondents

Minister Mangala Samaraweera: Leads the revival

Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday declared Matara would undergo a transformation in the post tsunami reconstruction plan with a new township to come up with all modern amenities, even as reconstruction and rebuilding activities was gathering momentum in the aftermath of the tsunami devastation.

Delivering the welcome speech at the launch of the inaugural project at reconstructing and redeveloping post tsunami Matara the Minister said under the programme initiated Godagama will be the main town and Kekandura and Walgama sub towns. The reconstruction Project of the Matara Town following the tsunami catastrophe was inaugurated at the Matara Bazaar yesterday morning under the patronage of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse who attended the occasion at the invitation of Ports, Aviation and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera. Minister Samaraweera addressing the gathering stated that as a result of the unity of the people and the efficient and prompt initiative of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga,

Sri Lanka was in a position to make a head start over other affected countries like Indonesia and Thailand in the reconstruction activities resiliently, so early.

Under this project each family will receive a plot of land to build its own house. The grant to build a house will range from rupees two hundred and fifty thousand to four hundred thousand with bank loan facilities for a larger sum under easy terms which will entail a grace period of one year free of interest. This is in addition to approximately Rs. 12500 worth of aid for food and other requirements and a Rs. 2800 worth of aid to purchase kitchen utensils, the Minister explained.

He further said that 13 schools in the Matara area were destroyed by the Tsunami and Switzerland has undertaken to reconstruct five of these while Norway will sign an agreement on January 31 to reconstruct the balance eight schools.

"The Tsunami brought down its wrath only to unite a nation that were bickering among themselves under division and rifts. Let us join hands at this moment to rebuild the nation to exist in harmony, Minister Samaraweera said.

The Minister also laid the foundation stones for reconstruction of the housing projects of Nupawela and Kammalwatta of Katuwegoda, Matara.

"Plans are afoot to construct new houses for the displaced.Over 1216 persons have lost their lives in Matara. The Government has decided to give an allowance to each family affected by the tsunami", the Minister said.

He said a programme is also under way to reconstruct schools,hospitals and other state institutions damaged by the tsunami.

Fisheries Minister Chandrasena Wijesinghe, Health Deputy Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and Matara Mayor Nimal de Silva also spoke.

Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Deputy Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, MP Premasiri Manage, Ports and Aviation Deputy Minister Dilan Perera and ANCL (Lake House) Chairman Janadasa Peiris attended the occasion.

With the death dealing tsunami still a distinct memory, the victims of this biggest natural disaster to hit Sri Lanka are nevertheless showing spirit and resourcefulness to rise from the debris of the catastrophe and start afresh putting behind the harrowing nightmare that devastated their lives and took away their belongings.

Signs of activity and stirrings of life were evident in the southern coastal belt as tsunami survivors went about with determination to overcome their ordeal.

The change is tangible in the form of individual efforts by these survivors to restart and rebuild their lives and livelihoods despite the severe odds they have to contend with.

While the government is faced with a challenge to work out a strategic program to rebuild the lives of tsunami victims the tsunami victims in the affected coastal regions, Beruwala, Galle, Hambantota, Tangalle and Matara, have re-launched their lives in their own way commencing small business enterprises to firm up their lives and give them a start.

These survivors have put up small business structures alongside their tsunami-ravaged houses believing in their resourcefulness to move ahead.

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