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'Lanka not doing enough to rehabilitate displaced Tamils'

Source: PTI
June 29, 2009 22:49 IST
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India on Monday said Sri Lanka has not done enough to rehabilitate displaced Tamils and asked Colombo to allow the Red Cross to take up relief and give media access to refugee camps in the strife-torn areas.

India had allocated Rs 500 crore for rehabilitating Lankan Tamils, but the rehabilitation plan was not ready in Sri Lanka, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said.

"We regret this," he told mediapersons at Karaikudi in his constituency, Sivaganga.

He said Sri Lankan Tamil refugees would not be forced to go back. "The government will however make all arrangements for them to return if they voluntarily want to go back."

Denying that India had not done enough to safeguard Lankan Tamils, he said, "We spoke both to LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) and the Sri Lankan government. But they did not listen."

Lankan officials had told him recently that steps were being taken to hold elections in Tamil areas under the 13th Amendment of the Constitution on devolution provisions under the Indo-Lanka accord.

Referring to reports that China was helping Lanka build a Naval base at Katchatheevu, an islet ceded by India to Lanka, he said, "It is only an unconfirmed report. It is not so."

He also said that government was taking steps to prevent Indian fishermen from being attacked by Lankan Navalmen in mid-sea.

Noting that there was a request for more patrolling vessels, he said, "They (Tamil Nadu's Coast Security Group and Coast Guard) had asked for 10 boats. Each boat costs some crores. The government will give them the facility one by one."

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