Post-war Kilinochchi in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka is a place of Hope and Healing
By Srimal Fernando, Global Editor
The parallelogram-shaped Kilinochchi War Hero Memorial
Post-war Kilinochchi district in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka is a place of hope and healing. Kilinochchi has seen massive progress in development and reconstruction since the war ended in 2009. The Sri Lankan conflict, which had prevailed for nearly three decades, proved to be an extremely sobering experience which caused so much suffering for the people and often had dire consequences for political, economic, social and human development. After a pitched battle with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) in Kilinochchi, the de facto administrative capital and large swathes of territory that was held by the Tamil Tigers for years, was re-taken by the Sri Lankan Security forces on 2nd January 2009. Kilinochchi, about 340 kilometres North of the capital city Colombo on the A -9 highway that connects the North and South of Sri Lanka and the Karachchi, Kandawalai, Poonagary, Pachchilipalli divisions within the district, was nothing but rubble and almost everyone was displaced following the end of the Northern insurrection.
State of the art Peoples Bank Building Kilinochchi
Four years after the violent conflict ended in Sri Lanka, post-war Kilinochchi moved on from the destruction of war to peace and economic development. In the early months after the conflict ended in Kilinochchi the burden of these enormous efforts of re-building was shouldered solely by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to make the area a better place to live in.
Prior to resettling and reintegrating of the internally displaced persons (IDP)s of Kilinochchi the Sri Lankan Security forces and the international demining experts removal of landmines through advanced demining procedures was carried out . De-mining in the district had been completed in 88 Grama Niladhari (GN) divisions and it is in progress in the remaining seven GN divisions (Ministry of Economic Development). According to the Ministry of Economic Development a total of 35,457 families have been resettled in the district. The re-integration of ex-combatants is an integral part of the demilitarization of post-war societies. With the support of the GoSL Security forces the e ex-combatants got training and material support to re-integrate themselves into activities as the mainstay livelihood for rural Kilinochchi.
T. Parama Sivan Siva Ex combatant said, “I feel very happy about the current situation. I see development in my area.”
The ambitious rebuilding programme was facilitated by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) during the past four years. Under the Indian Government assistance nearly 3480 houses were reconstructed and a total of 17,000 houses will be re-built in Kilinochchi district.
Indian Government assistance reconstructed houses in Kilinochchi
Infrastructure is a major factor in the economic well-being in the area. Efficient transportation is a key factor for economic development of the Kilinochchi providing friendly method of transport as well as a safe and economical way of travelling. With many changes taking place in the area linking Kilinochchi with rest of the country and rebuilding of long neglected roads, rehabilitation and maintenance and upgrading ageing transportation infrastructure within the district was one of the highest priorities of the GOSL.
Kilinochchi -Colombo Train and the newly built Kilinochchi Station
After more than 23 years, single track line between Colombo and Kilinochchi was re-constructed by the India Railway Construction International Ltd. (IRCON) with the assistance of the Indian Government. People in the area are optimistic about the vast development in the transportation sector. However, some daily commuters from the interior areas of Kilinochchi feel that they do not have enough buses connecting villages and the town.
Passengers inside the Kilinochchi –Colombo Train
The 24 Mega-watts “Uthuru Janani” thermal power plant and the 67-kilometre-long transmission line, from Kilinochchi to Chunnakam, is a modern approach to electric power generation, transmission and distribution to sustain the economic growth in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.
Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Electricity Transmission Station Kilinochchi
Health service in the area is provided by both private and state sectors. The Kilinochchi district hospital was renovated at a cost of Rs.13.8 Million. The Government of India provided medical equipment to the Kilinochchi General Hospital worth millions of rupees. Expanding access to primary care for residents in interior areas of Kilinochchi through community health centers is an essential task to develop the health sector in the district.
In telecommunication the area has fourth generation (4G) mobile phone communication technology standards. The Kokavil Multi-Purpose Transmission tower was commissioned to connect the North and South of the country.
Kilinochchi is currently undergoing a structural adjustment with a view to boosting the productivity in all sectors of the economy. The cultivation of paddy is the main occupation for majority of the population in Kilinochchi. Large scale banana, chilies, papaw, mango, grape and lime cultivation is undertaken by farmers in large leased lands. Commercial grapevine nurseries in interior areas of Kilinochchi has been rewarding to the famers.
“I spent nearly five hundred thousand rupees to restore the nursery. I am now ready to harvest the grapes,” said Kadiramalai, a grapevine nursery farmer from Thiruvaiyaru Village.
In Kilinochchi all field crops are raised largely by natural rainfall. Water from the underground water tables lies near the surface. Iranamadu (Ranamaduva) tank, Kanakampikai Kulam (Pond), Kilinochchi Kulam and several other ponds or small lakes are the major irrigation sources for paddy and various other cultivations. However, many producers are raised in a rainfed culture and have been unable to irrigate because they lack an adequate water source or require familiarity with water management systems.
Kilinochchi market with 216 temporary shops
In the Kilinochchi town there is a temporary market with nearly 216 temporary shops. The GOSL is constructing a Rs. 200 million modern market complex in a three acre plot of land in the town. Adding value to the lives of 2,000 direct employees the country’s apparel giant MAS Holdings has set up two facilities, MAS Intimates Vidiyal and MAS Active Vaanavil, in Kilinochchi.
Vocational and Skills Development Institute Kilinochchi
The quality of the education given to the students in nearly 120 schools in the area must be equally distributed. Many consider the districts education to be exceptional. Kilinochchi is gifted with some famous educational institutions. Kilinochchi Maha Vidyalya (MV) is one of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the district and the Vocational Institute in Kilinochchi had played a pioneering role in the development of the modern education system in the district.
Kilinochchi Maha Vidyalya
“Last year 35 students entered University from Kilinochchi Maha Vidyalya stated A . Pangayatselvan Principal, Kilinochchi Maha Vidyalya (MV).
Kilinochchi Harmony Center
The Kilinochchi harmony Center has functioned as a catalyst in bringing together the community. The 13 projects implemented by the center is also actively involved in developing culture, arts, skills development and sport as a tool to uplift and involve communities. Kilinochchi Security Forces through the harmony Center has granted scholarships to 33,000 students in the district.
On May 2013 the Asian Development Bank (ADB) commended Sri Lanka's post war development achievements. Kilinochchi, a region that had experienced pitched battles during the Sri Lankan civil war, has successfully recovered from the war's destruction and even developed further.