On March 24th 2019, High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, His Excellency Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Minister of Finance of Sri Lanka Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, ceremoniously handed over 98 homes built under the ‘Indian Housing Project’, to the families of the Hellbodde Estate in Nuwara Eliya. Gracing the festivities were Hon. Palani Thigambaram, Minister for Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development, Hon. Gayantha Karunathilake, Minister of Lands and Parliamentary Reforms, and Hon. Radhakrishnan, Minister of Special Area Development.
The Indian Housing Project, funded by the Government of India and launched under the auspices of the Ministry of Hill Country, New Villages and Infrastructure and Community Development, envisions the resettlement of at least 4,000 plantation worker families in newly created cluster villages or townships in the Central and Uva Provinces. As part of Phase 1 of the Indian Housing Project, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka has successfully constructed 98 homes for plantation workers of Hellbodde Estate. An additional 267 homes are currently under construction by Habitat for Humanity in 05 other estates across the Central Province.
Speaking at the event, Indian High Commissioner Sandhu described the Indian Housing Project which contains a financial envelope of over US$ 350 million, as the largest single Indian grant assistance project in any country abroad. Minister Mangala Samaraweera, drawing attention to the close relations between India and Sri Lanka, described India as a true friend, always ready to assist Sri Lanka during emergencies and crisis situations. Given this special relationship between the two nations, the 98-house village was officially named ‘Bhagat Singh Puram’, after famous Indian freedom fighter and youth Icon – Bhagat Singh.
Coinciding with the official event, Mr. Yu Hwa Li, National Director of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka, noted that the close collaboration between the Ministry of Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure & Community Development, the Plantation Human Development Trust (PHDT), respective Regional Plantation Companies (RPC), Plantation Management, home-owner beneficiaries and the Estate Worker Housing Cooperative Societies (EWHCS) of Hellbodde played an integral role in the successful completion of ‘Bhagat Singh Puram’.
Comprising a minimum of 550 square feet, each new home consists of two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a toilet. The ownership of the housing program rests with the Estate Workers’ Housing Cooperative Societies (EWHCS) who with the participation of the home-owner families and local construction service providers are engaged in the construction of the homes. This unique participatory approach encourages homeowners to take ownership of the construction of their own homes, while Habitat for Humanity provides technical assistance, quality assurance & monitoring throughout the construction process, ensuring housing quality standards are met.
Celebrating 25 years of operations in Sri Lanka, Habitat for Humanity has assisted more than 25,500 families by building homes, facilitating access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities for communities and assisting families to improve their shelter conditions.