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The end of the 30-year-old conflict not only opened the roads towards the North, but it did also provide the much-needed space for the people themselves to come out and express their grievances.

The various commissions and committees appointed by the government provided the platform for the affected people to express their feelings, their demands, and their grievances after many years.

Even though several years have passed since the war came to an end, those affected, especially in the final phase of the war, continue their search either for their loved ones, or for justice. Their commitment towards finding a solution has not faltered even the slightest over the past six years.

Even now, hundreds would still attend any sittings or sessions conducted by commissions that look into various aspects pertaining to the war. They have not given up.

But on the other side, one could also say that their demands and pleas are still to be met by the authorities after all these years.

Arthur WamananThe change in government in January last year gave a renewed hope for the people in the North that their calls would be heard and attended to. However, the progress on most of these issues has been quite slow.

Calls continue
Regardless of the results, the people have continued to express their dissatisfaction by way of protests whenever possible.

Most part of last week also saw people from the Northern and Eastern Provinces coming to the roads to protest, but for separate reasons.

A protest was held in Jaffna last week, calling for the release of detainees who were kept under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), and to expedite the process of searching for missing persons.

The protest was organized to coincide with the sittings of the Commission to Investigate Disappearances in Jaffna. It was the same families, making the same plea which they had been making for years.

As far as the people are concerned, the process has been a monologue. They have spoken, but are yet to receive a response. What they need is not an immediate response, but an assurance that the authorities have taken the issue seriously. That would in turn give the people the much needed confidence that their pleas would be heard and they would find a closure to all their problems.

Objects Sampur plant
Meanwhile, residents of Muttur, a coastal village in Trincomalee, came out in protest last week against the proposed coal power plant that is to be set up in Sampur.

Although the plant has been under construction for several years, the government recently announced that it would expedite the process so that the plant would be completed soon.

The announcement triggered fresh protests by residents who claimed that the plant would cause severe health and environmental issues.

Sampur, the coastal village in the tip of Trincomalee has been a place of importance for several reasons over the past several years.

Strategic position
During the war, Sampur was considered a place of strategic importance for the LTTE. The Sri Lanka Navy base in Trincomalee was under constant threat owing to the LTTE positions in Sampur, which was across the Koddiyar Bay.

After recapturing the East, the government decided to set up a coal power plant in Sampur. This resulted in several Sampur residents being moved to temporary locations where they had to live for years without a solution. It is said that the plant is being constructed in the lands belonging to the residents, most of whom are fishermen.

Even though the residents have been promised lands elsewhere, they have expressed their unwillingness to move as their livelihood activities would be affected if they moved inland.

The current government pledged to solve the issues of the displaced persons by providing them with lands according to their needs.

On the other hand, it is also necessary for authorities to look into the health environmental aspects of setting up such a plant.