Shah Says Modi Built Homes in Sri Lanka, Omits UPA Started Project

Kritika Goel
·4-min read

While addressing a gathering in Chennai on Saturday, 21 November, Union Home Minister Amit Shah referred to the India Housing Project in Sri Lanka and said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for construction of houses for Tamils in Jaffna, a region which was once ravaged by strife.

While it is true that the Indian government did fund the project with the aim to support the resettlement and rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Northern and Eastern Province in Sri Lanka, what is missing from Shah’s statement is the mention that the project was announced in 2010 by the then prime minister Manmohan Singh with a total outlay of US $270 million, as per the information available on the website of Consulate General of India.

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While Shah’s statement isn’t completely false as the project continued post 2014 (when PM Modi-led NDA government came to power), it lacks context and thus is misleading.

WHAT DID THE HOME MINISTER SAY?

While talking about the accomplishments of the NDA and how the Modi government has been working towards the welfare of Tamil Nadu in tandem with the state government, Shah also mentioned PM Modi’s visit to Jaffna in 2015 and said:

"“When Modiji visited Sri Lanka, he didn’t forget Jaffna. He visited Tamil colonies and met his brothers and sisters there. He laid foundation stone for providing them houses. Over 50,000 Tamils will get houses and damaged temples will be repaired/reconstructed in Sri Lanka.”" - Amit Shah

The remark can be heard at around 39:00 minutes in the video.

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WHAT IS THE PROJECT AND WHEN WAS IT STARTED?

As a part of India’s support to Sri Lanka post the civil war, which ended in 2009, the Indian government announced that it would construct 50,000 houses in the Northern and Eastern Province.

  • A pilot project which involved the construction of 1,000 houses was started in November 2010 and was completed in July 2012.

  • The second phase, launched on 2 October, 2012, was aimed at constructing 45,000 houses. According to the information available on the High Commission of India, these houses were completed in December 2018.

  • As per a 2013 press release, of these houses, 10,250 houses were completed. It must be noted that this press release puts the number of total houses to be constructed at 43,000 and not 45,000.

  • The government also provided financial assistance of LKR 5,50,000 per beneficiary (approx. INR 2,55,000 per beneficiary) to undertake the construction of their houses and LKR 250,000 in case of repair.

  • The third phase was aimed at constructing 4,000 houses for the estate workers in the Central and Uva Provinces. The Letter of Exchange for this phase signed in April 2016 and the work started in October 2016.

The same information about the project is also available on the website of the Ministry of External Affairs and UN Habitat.

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WHAT IS MODI GOVERNMENT’S CONTRIBUTION?

In 2017, Prime Minister Modi announced the construction of an additional 10,000 houses for the estate workers. Further, in 2015, he handed over 27,000 houses to Tamils, which were built with the Indian assistance as a part of the reconciliation process.

While it is true that the project continued even after the defeat of the UPA in 2014 and the NDA added 10,000 more houses to support Sri Lanka, the project was started under the UPA government. This fact is missing from Shah’s remark.

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