By Rathindra Kuruwita
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that those who had received houses in villages built by the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) between 2015 and 2019 were yet to receive deeds confirming ownership. The Premier said so in response to a query posed by UPFA MP Anuradha Jayaratne.
Premier Rajapaksa said that the actual number of housing units constructed was far less than what was announced. The Premier said that only 9,604 houses had been constructed in 367 villages though the previous government repeatedly claimed that 65,097 new houses had been built in 2,562 villages during yahapalana adinistration.
Premier Rajapaksa said that none of the recipients had been told that deeds would be given once they made the full payment for the houses. So far no one had completed the loan payment, Premier Rajapaksa said, adding that for want of deeds they could not even obtain bank loans or get their children admitted to schools.
State Housing Minister Indika Anuruddha alleged that the vast majority of houses had been constructed in lands belonging to various institutions. Lawmaker Anuruddha charged the NHDA for constructing houses without obtaining approval. Some houses had been constructed on lands belonging to the Wildlife and Forest Conservation departments, the State Minister said, pointing out the difficulty in transferring the ownership of the lands to the recipients of those houses.
“The Wildlife and Forest Conservation departments and Mahaweli Authority are not happy with the NHDA move. The latter is experiencing trouble,” MP Anuruddha said.
The state minister also said that former minister of housing Sajith Premadasa had spent one billion rupees on a propaganda campaign for the 367 model villages. The State Minister said that the new government would launch a housing project to construct 14,022 houses by the end of this year. The lawmaker said that the government spent Rs. 500 000 for publicity.
Opposition Leader, Sajith Premadasa asked the Prime Minister whether he could ask him a question as regards his statement but Rajapaksa told Premadasa to direct his question to the state minister.