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Sri Lankan government is doing its best to help

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After reading your news story 'Architects incensed by arbitrary rule on new villages for Sri Lanka' (AJ 3.3.05), I am writing with some thoughts on the subject, following my return from this country.

The no-build zone was introduced initially to protect people in the event of future flooding.

It varies from 100m to 200m around the coastline, necessary measures after the tsunami.

The Sri Lankan government is providing alternative land where displaced families can settle, and transitional settlements are being built there to house families for the next year.

This will allow time for permanent housing to be planned and constructed and for property and land rights to be highlighted. To date, the government has made no claims over land in the no-build zone.

However, non-government organisations have been working with displaced families so that they can retain access to their land by cultivating it or storing fishing equipment there.

It is perhaps unhelpful to demand total clarity at this point from a government that has never experienced a natural disaster on this scale. NGOs have been invited to the country and can support the government by providing geological information and humanitarian expertise in order to see that displaced families are helped.

Elizabeth Babister, shelter and settlements adviser, Northampton

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