The Government’s controversial 65,000 housing project in the North and East continues to come under heavy criticism with the latest call for review of the entire project by the Tamil National Alliance.

A team of experts, all faculty members from the University of Moratuwa has recently released a preliminary report of their comparison of the proposed steel houses by ArcelorMittal to constructed block wall houses, following a two day visit to Jaffna in April 2016. The three experts are engineers Prof. Priyan Dias and Dr Rangika Halwatura, and Architect Varuna de Silva.

Commenting on the structural and non structural aspects, the report states that when compared to the block wall houses, the steel houses suffer from several key drawbacks (at at least double the cost) including inadequate foundations, insufficient roof support, risk of steel corrosion despite the coatings provided, poor ventilation, poor or non-existent capacity for extension or repair, much shorter lifespan, unlikely to create a sense of ownership, very unlikely to foster the local economy and generate employment.

The report concludes that “the way forward is to construct block wall houses, while finding ways to overcome any disadvantages they may have (e.g. finding new sources of natural resources; alternative technologies to reduce natural resource usage; arranging financing). 

The complete preliminary report is available for download here.

  • puniselva

    1.This is good stuff for the Cabinet of Ministers and all the other parliamentarians to have an introductory course in Sustainable Development, judging by the silence of the Ministers of i.Sustainable Development, 2.Economic Affairs, 3.Finance 4.Social Empowerment, 5.Housing, 6.Skills Development, etc.

    2.The world is becoming more and more complex faster and faster (ie change is taking place exponentially) and hence we need well-informed decision-makers. Six decades of going down the slope haven’t jerked up the SiLankans.

    3.Is there any connection between the billion dollars ”parked” in our country 3/4 months ago by a mysterious investor from Belgium and the billion-dollar housing contract by ArceloMittal headquartered in Luxembourg please?

  • puniselva

    1.Had this been proposed for the South there might have been a second ”Rathupaswala”? People in the North and the East are too battered too long and are eager to move on from tarpolin sheds into metal sheds?? Already tens of thousands of applications have been received.
    2.It’s a mystery that the govt is
    i.going for Rs 2.1m for each unit while the country is in deep debt and a lot more than 65,000need houses
    ii.going for prefabricated houses for unemployed and underemployed people while there are no signs on the horizon for new opportunities for employment
    iii. can they pay gas and electricity bills(judging by the furnishing given for the house units)? Of course there should be fast development to improve their lives but which isn’t possible judging by the current state of affairs including the way farming and fishing are going and the way the sturdy economic activities of the armed forces occupying the region and the inhibitory funding the Northern Provincial Council(NPC) receives(pl let me know if the other councils also receive highly stipulated budget like NPC).
    Is this a novel continuation of the last 68yrs?

    So, this is ethnocide?

  • Kailas Pillai

    That the houses may not be up to standard strenghtwise and may lack ventilation were arrived at by the locals as well as by an independent expert panel from Moratuwa University, Colombo. But Arcelormittal have the clout with the government of India who will say “Do not look at a gift horse in the mouth”.

  • Independent

    I read the report. Unfortunately It lacks scientific evidence. For example, so called experts appears to have no knowledge of “insulated panels” apparently used as roofing. They have assumed roofing sheet is carrying insulation an ceiling sheet. Insulated panels of thickness give can easily span over the roof supports indicated.

    The report says 150 thick slab is insufficient. On what basis ? House slabs in UK, USA, Australia are only 100 thick. There are slab on ground. If the surrounding has prepared properly and a surrounding plinth is present there is no reason for the slab subgrade to be washed away.

    I am not suggesting the houses are satisfactory. Arcelormittal is a reputed company and they should be given a chance to reply argue this out more scientifically with the “expert”.