Reconstruction Plans for Sri Lanka: An Open Letter from the Fisherfolk Communities
We are affected by the 26 December Tsunami, and now in the stage of re-building of the coastal communities & re-construction of the coastal infra structure destroyed. Government of Sri Lanka appointed a Special Task Force for Nation Building immediately after the tsunami for prepare plans. They have completed their plans within 20 days after the tsunami and President Chandrika Bandaranaike will declare the plan today, 15 January 2005.
We have some concerns over the way the plans were prepared and the contents of the plans.
1. Can we agree to the composition of the special task force for the nation building which is only the top business managers are in it ?
2. Do the prepared plans reflect the real needs of the tsunami victims to recover them from the present situation?
3. Or do those plans represent the same PRSP „Regaining Sri Lanka Program‰ as presented by the previous govt. and rejected by the majority people in the country during the election this year.?
We represent the people who are the victims of the present development paradigm and also the tsunami disaster. We need the tsunami affected people to be resettled in a decent shelters where these people could easily go the sea. Government says they will strictly enforce the coast conservation act and no one allowed to rebuild their houses within 100 Meters of the coast, [it is not very clear as they change time to time the distance from 100- 300 as restricted area.] But the problem is do we have enough lands to re-settle those people as the way policy makers mentioned.? At present no one is allowed to repair their house [even the roof and the wall] of the tsunami victims while most of the tourist hotels have been repaired and announced for re-open shortly for the businesses.
What is this indifference? We will give you a clear example.
One Buddhist monk at Kalutara area had taken the initiatives to build the houses for the tsunami victims. He was ready to put up houses and resettle the displaced people with earliest attention. But this was banned by the DS [District Secretary of Kalutara] and the DIG [ Deputy Inspector general at Kalutara] twice. They were informed that the monk should wait until President implement the government plan. While the hotels in the same area are being constructed within two weeks in the same places where the hotels were earlier within the so called coastal zone..
We need to ask the question at this moment.
Is this clearance of fishing communities from the coastal zone to protect the fisher people and the coastal communities from the tsunami and other natural disasters or to replace the evacuated coast for business purposes and tourism???
Our government should answer this question before they go for any development plan to rebuild the coastal communities. The problem here is, those plans were not prepared by the government authorities. Not a single cabinet minister involved for prepare plans. They are the people who got the mandate from the people. They are accountable to the people at the long run. But business community: to whom they accountable? They are accountable for their own business community to have profit.
When we study the prepared plans at hand, we do not see the plan reflecting the real needs of the victimized people's immediate and long term needs.
We majority of the Sri Lankan community rejected regaining Sri Lanka PRSP process during the previous election. It is unethical to implement the same program which rejected by the people and mandated for preparation of a better development plan for the country‚s development. But present government also following the same line and this is unethical, undemocratic and violate the rights of the people as they are further marginalized from the coast conservation regulations.
Coastal communities are not ready to move out from the coast. And we are not ready to allow business communities and tourism to occupy our land as this is our customary right for our life and livelihood. If any one violates that we consider as a crime against the life.
General Secretary-World FisherFolk People (WFFP)
Date: 15 January, 2005