Building war heroes’ housing dream

We must remember the military families and the sacrifices they have made and support them in their time of need. The war is over and the country is peaceful, but the families of the valiant soldiers who sacrificed their lives and those who sacrificed their limbs are today fighting their own battle to survive and they deserve our support.

Many of these war heroes have no homes to call their own after having fought to free the country from terrorism. The financial remuneration they receive hardly compensates for the sacrifices they have made. For some families, having sacrificed their breadwinners, they struggle to make ends meet daily, while the rest of the country enjoys freedom because of their bravery and selfless commitment.

It has been 10 years since the end of the war and some of these war heroes are still trying to rebuild their shattered lives. Life is a constant struggle for those men of the Security Forces who have to battle with their injuries daily, or for those without limbs or other vital organs.

The present government has not forgotten these war heroes and with the aim of realising their dream of a roof above their heads, a programme titled Sathviru Abhiman has been initiated under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena which provides assistance to war heroes to realise their dreams of owning a home.

With this aim, war hero families will be presented with houses, land and educational scholarships worth over Rs.700 million under the Sathviru Abhiman programme under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena today.

The housing assistance programme was initiated by the Defence Ministry in appreciation of the sacrifices made by war heroes. Under the direction of the President, several welfare projects have been initiated to uplift the living standards of the Tri-Forces, Police and Civil Security Department (CSD) personnel war heroes and their families.

Among these initiatives, the main focus has been on providing housing solutions, land and educational scholarships to war hero families.

Defence Secretary General Shantha Kottegoda said a ceremony would be held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium today (22) at 4.00pm under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena.

The President will symbolically give away houses, land and educational scholarships worth over Rs. 700 million to war heroes and their families.

“Under the Api Wenuwen Api initiative, full and partial grants are given to Tri-Forces, Police and CSD members for the construction of new houses or completion of partially-built houses. During the ceremony to be held today (22), the President will distribute 25 completed houses; further 925 war heroes will receive grants to complete their partially-built houses, 246 war heroes will receive grants to purchase a plot of land to build their homes, and 308 scholarships would be distributed among children of the war heroes, making a total of 1,504 war veterans and their families,” General Kottegoda said.

“Full grants have already been given for the construction of houses for 2,917 war hero families, partial grants for 4,487 war heroes, adding up to a total of 7,404. This is done under the mediation of the Defence Ministry. However, this is not the only programme which assists war heroes. There are other programmes within the Tri Forces, Police and CSD which also assist these war heroes to obtain financial assistance to construct or complete their houses and for other welfare requirements,” he said.

Meanwhile, addressing a media briefing held at the Defence Ministry, Additional Secretary (Administration) W.A. Kulasooriya said the war heroes are given a grant of Rs. 1.5 million each to construct complete houses and Rs. 750,000 for the completion of partially-constructed houses. The total amount spent for the awarding of these grants at the ceremony today is around Rs. 711 million.

“From 2010 to 2019, the government has spent Rs. 4,375 million as grants to complete houses and 4,487 million as grants to complete partially-built houses for war heroes. However, the labour component for the construction of these houses is entirely provided by military personnel,” Additional Secretary (Administration) Kulasooriya said.

Army Commander Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake said 1,124 Army personnel have received grants to complete their houses, while 2,447 personnel received grants for the completion of partially-constructed houses from 2010 to date, with 884 personnel receiving housing grants within this year alone. He said over Rs. 464 million has been spent by the government for this housing project. He commended the efforts of the President to commence this programme, which he said had been a big assistance to the members of the military who had been actively engaged in the war. “This project was initiated under eight schemes and the main programme is conducted under the Api Wenuwen Api initiative. Under the Meth Sevana programme, senior war heroes receive benefits and the children of these war heroes receive educational assistance through these programmes since 2010.”

Navy Commander Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva said, “The main concern of many of these war heroes is to have a roof above their heads. Hence, this project is a massive benefit to them. So far, 347 Naval personnel have received grants to complete houses and 831 have received grants for the completion of their partially-built houses. In addition, another 80 Naval war heroes have received grants to purchase a plot of land to construct their homes. Of the total number of houses, so far this year 230 partially-built houses have been completed and 27 Navy personnel have been given grants to purchase plots of land. Naval personnel are also accorded many loan schemes and other benefits such as the state-of-the-art Navy hospital which caters to the medical needs of all Naval personnel and their families.”

Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sumangala Dias, in his summery of the number of Air Force personnel who had received housing benefits under the programme said, “It is much appreciated that the government is committed to assisting these war heroes and their families in their time of need. From 2011 to date, the assistance that has been provided to the service personnel by this programme which contributes to upholding their dignity is commendable. So far, Air Force personnel have received 216 fully-built houses, while another 700 have received grants to complete their partially-built houses under Api Wenuwen Api.”

“Further through the Meth Sevana initiative, 36 beneficiaries have received benefits so far and another 15 have received benefits through the Viru Sumithuru programme. This year alone, 207 Air Force personnel will receive assistance with 60 Air Force personnel receiving grants to complete their partially-built houses, eight senior AF personnel receiving assistance, and scholarships being awarded to 32 children of Air Force veterans. The labour is also provided by the Air Force,” he said.

“In addition, under the Viru Sumithuru programme, 18 houses have also been built for CSD personnel. The children of these families have been granted 58 scholarships this year and 11 families have been granted assistance to purchase plots of land. CSD personnel played a crucial role during the war and without their assistance, the task of winning the war would have been difficult. Their commitment to safeguard their motherland is amply evident as 546 CSD personnel laid down their lives in the line of duty during the war,” he said.

This initiative would not be a success without the assistance of other establishments and the DFCC Bank has been a great strength in making this endeavour a success. They have come forward to assist the scholarship programme by granting over Rs. 7.5 million for scholarships.

Speaking to the Daily News, DFCC Bank Vice President - Liabilities and Trade Business Development Anton Arumugam said Rs. 25,000 would be given to each student as a scholarship. “The funds have already been credited to the students’ accounts and this programme has been initiated with the aim of encouraging them to pursue their studies without hindrance. In addition to the assistance given to students, the bank also supports them with housing loans and their loans are tailored according to their specific requirements.”

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