All prisons will be modernised: Minister Swaminathan

“The Angunakolapellessa Prison was opened with all modern facilities including CCTV monitoring recently. The Pallekele and Jaffna Prison are under construction. The Welikada, Galle, Matara, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Kegalle, Wariyapola Prisons and Mannar lockup will be relocated,” Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D.M. Swaminathan said.

He was speaking yesterday in Parliament as the members was considering the report of the select committee on the Hill Country New Villages,

Infrastructure and Community Development Ministry; Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Ministry; National Coexistence, Dialogue and Official Languages Ministry, and National Integration and Reconciliation Ministry during the Committee Stage debate on the budget proposal for financial year 2018.

He said the Welikada Prison was congested and it would be shifted to Dompe within a few years. A suitable land had already been sourced and to construct a building on it would take approximately two and a half years.”

“The Prison Department has developed a Prison Information Management System and action is taken to develop Biometric information assisted by the Telecommunication Ministry to exchange necessary information online,” the Minister said.

“Around Rs. 250,000 is needed for a day to provide facilities to rehabilitate minor offenders as per 2016 reports,” the Minister said.

He proposed that the community based correction must be carried out as it is cost effective. Minister Swaminathan said Rs. 14.050 million was allocated for the Accelerated Resettlement Programme under his ministry in 2016, while several resettlement and development projects were implemented last year to alleviate the issues faced by the conflict affected people in the North and East, and the border villages in Puttalam, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.

He said that under his ministry, 11,253 houses, 7,598 sanitation units and 1,293 public wells were constructed and 2,216 partially damaged wells during the war were renovated in 2016.

“In addition, 187 roads, 27 hospitals and 66 schools were renovated and 8,902 water connections were provided in 2016. Under the livelihood assistance project, 12,757 families were provided equipment worth Rs. 100,000 each,” he said.”All these efforts reduced poverty in the North and East,” he said.

Minister Swaminathan said that almost 165,000 families were identified as IDPs and with a meagre allocations in 2016 and 2017, only 17,000 were resettled under the owner driven programme. Under the accelerated resettlement programme, the Ministry had initiated 65,000 prefabricated housing programmes with 100 percent financing, and eventually Cabinet approved 6,000.

He said the Parliamentary Select Committee was briefed on the plight of the displaced. “I earnestly hope parliament would allocate at least Rs. 15 billion for my ministry to facilitate the accelerated rehabilitation programme to achieve the target of the government to fulfil the recommendations of the LLRC,” he said. 

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