Sri Lanka legislator in court against planned Arcellor Mittal deal

ECONOMYNEXT – A Sri Lankan legislator has gone to court over a planned deal with France’s Arcellor Mittal to build steel houses for war victims saying they are unsuitable for the hot climate, and questioning the bidding process and saying cheaper alternatives have been proposed.

M A Sumanthiran, a member of parliament representing people in the war-torn northern region, has sought Supreme Court intervention under to halt a purported plan to build 60,000 steel prefabricated houses.

Asked for documents on costs, he said a transparent tender based on the housing preferences of the intended recipients amid other proposals made to the original tender proposing longer-lasting brick houses, which was more suited the hot climate of the region, which did not eventually rust away.

The plaint said some of the primary concerns related to the deal were as follows:
(a)     The procedure by which the 2nd Respondent was selected for the said construction

(b)    The environmental suitability of the proposed prefabricated steel houses

(c)    The durability of the proposed prefabricated steel houses

(d)     The proposed cost of each prefabricated steel house (which was initially 2.1 million rupees), especially when compared with the much lesser cost of building a far more environmentally suitable, durable permanent brick house.

(e)    Implementation of the said construction (e.g.: the question as to whether local labourers will be employed)

(f)    Lack of consultation with conflicted affected communities (intended beneficiaries of the said construction) regarding houses to be constructed.)

He pleaded that a group of civil society agencies had forwarded an alternate plan with financing from local banks to construct houses for 1 million rupees using local material and labour against the initial cost of 2.1 million rupees for steel houses.





Sumanthiran asked the courts to halt any agreement being entered with Arcellor Mittal and to stop the implementation of any agreements, and asked for any documents to be released.

He asked that the government be directed to seek the views of the affected community, find whether recipients wanted brick and motar houses or prefabricated houses, and tenders be called on the preferences.

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