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Stories about Sand in Sri Lanka

Six months after the Boxing Day tsunami, all is far from well in Sri Lanka, which was massively impacted by the disaster. The JVP, a Sri Lankan nationalist party (sometimes characterised as a Marxist party), has pulled out of Chandrika Kumaratunga’s government, leaving her with a minority government. JVP withdrew to protest an aid deal where some tsunami aid went to Tamil groups associated with the Tamil Tiger rebels.

JVP is not the only party upset about aid being directed to Tamil groups – monks affiliated with the JHU party marched in Columbo last week, before being tear-gassed by Sri Lankan security forces.

In the meantime, Sri Lankan blogger Nittewa has a sad and frustrating story about homes to shelter refugees, corrupt contractors and beach sand:

They took the keys at a big ceremony that was organised to distribute the houses, inspected the houses after the event, and went back to their tents in the camps. No, they have not fallen in love with life in the tent. Nor have they become so attached to spending so much of their time in a tiny confined space shared with about a dozen others.

They thought the permanent houses which had been built for them were structurally unsound and not at all safe for living in. A reporter who was there are the event and went around to few of the houses later, said that you could poke holes in the cement walls with a pen. The sand that had been used in the construction had been sand from the beach. We asked a engineer why sand from the sea cannot be used in constructions and he told us that since they contain a lot of minerals and salts, it hampers the bonding process in the cement. So basically, when you use sea sand in a cement mixture to build a wall, the cement is not as half as strong as it would have been if you had used river sand, which is what is generally used. But river sand is more expensive that sea sand. And their using sea sand in the construction means they knew nothing about building houses, and decided to cut a few corners. Not good.

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