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Jaffna’s property prices surge as peace returns – BBC

Written by kumaran   // July 25, 2011   // Comments Off


Selvarajah Ragunathan greets me warmly at his Jaffna home. His face is kindly but furrowed with sadness. He lost his brother and sister in the early years of the civil war, more than 20 years ago.

Like many others, he left his rural home when the army took over the land. He worked for years in the Gulf but could not save much. Now he rents this place in the city – a quite spacious house with a garden, where he lives with his wife and their 21-month-old son, Adchayan. But since he started the tenancy two years ago things have become very worrying. Rents in the city are soaring. The initial rent was 1,500 rupees ($15; £9) a month, which may sound little to many people but was a lot for him. ”Now the landlords say they want 10,000 rupees, as they can get that rent from newcomers,” he says.

“We’re staying in a nice house and that’s what people see. But nobody knows that we didn’t eat today.” He is now jobless, while his wife has a government job earning 16,000 rupees a month.

The family now faces eviction.

Relocating families

It’s not hard to find reasons why property prices are booming. Opposite a large Catholic church I visit the office of a major newcomer to Jaffna, a property developer called Ran Homes. Outside, above its blue and white wall, are bright placards showing brand-new villas and slogans. They state “Your beautiful home is waiting for you” and “You relax, we build your dream home.”

The business manager Y M Haron, recently relocated to Jaffna from Colombo, shows me photos of sprawling, flawless-looking mansions. His main customers are local Tamil people who moved abroad in the war and still live overseas. Many seek homes for their elderly parents, who are moving back to Jaffna from the capital.

“[For] thirty years they are out of the country,” he says. “So I think they have money, they have earned, they want to invest here and some want to have a second house here. ”They will be working there [overseas] and when they come for holidays they can stay with their parents here.”

You can see such homes going up in Jaffna streets, costing up to $150,000 (or more – “there’s no limit” says Mr Haron) [Read More]

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