- Go to the ground and see before giving permanent solutions …
- A long term sustainable remedy to stop wild elephant intrusions …
- No people’s problems should be swept under the carpet giving misinterpretations …
-President advises officials at Puttalam “Discussion with the Village” programme
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has categorically directed that officials with decision making powers must attend District and Regional Development Committee meetings to implement people-centric projects.
The President stated that from the outset of the “Discussion with the Village” programme, he had realized that the lack of proper involvement of responsible officials was the main reason for the delay in implementing useful projects and the loss of benefits to the people.
The people are suffering due to the endless tug of war between the officials, respective institutions and the people’s representatives. The President reiterated the need for the responsible officials of all key institutions including wildlife, forest conservation, environment and road development to make collective decisions in the implementation of projects.
Absence of proper land use planning is not the fault of the people, President Rajapaksa said while adding that it is essentially important that officials go grassroots to witness the real situation with their own eyes, when providing long term solutions to many rural problems, including land issues. Some people misinterpret policy decisions that were taken for the benefit of the people. President Rajapaksa stressed that he will never allow the real issues of the people to be swept under the carpet by using misinterpretations as an excuse.
The President made these remarks participating in the 11th “Discussion with the Village” programme held yesterday (20) at the Nelumwewa Community Hall premises in the Paligama Grama Niladhari Division of the Karuwalagaswewa Divisional Secretariat Division, Puttalam District.
“The poorest and most difficult villages in the island are selected as the venue for the “Discussion with the Village” programme. The people living in these villages have been suffering from numerous unresolved issues for a long period of time. These problems cannot be solved by looking at them from an officials’ or any other party’s perspective alone. Therefore, the officials and the villagers can make the right decisions by meeting each other,” the President said addressing the gathering at Nelumwewa Community Hall.
The “Discussion with the Village” programme commenced on September 25, 2020 from Badulla district. Thereafter programmes were organized covering Matale, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura, Ampara, Polonnaruwa, Kalutara, Moneragala , Kegalle and Kandy districts. The idea behind this programme is for the President to talk to the rural communities living in remote and difficult areas without intermediaries about their long-standing unresolved problems and to present them directly to the officials in order to find solutions. Problems that can be solved on the spot are instantly addressed. The rest which take time to deal with are noted down to find solutions later. The objective of the programme is to reach out to the people of the village, understand their problems and find solutions giving considerations to their own suggestions.
Paligama village is located 23km away from Puttalam town, bordering Nawagattegama and Anamaduwa Divisional Secretariat areas. This village is mentioned in folklore as the village where the shield of King Dutugemunu fell. It was later came to be known as “Paligama”. Neliwewa, Siyambalawewa, Nelumwewa, Rajavigama and Heenatikalma fall under the limits of the Paligama Grama Niladhari Division. 78 families from Wariyapola, Yapahuwa, Nikaweratiya and Hiriyala areas who had to be evicted due to the Deduru Oya project have been resettled in the village under the first phase. Currently, the total population of Paligama is 1533 consisting of 447 families. Out of them 171 families are Samurdhi beneficiaries. Paddy and chena cultivation are the main livelihood of the people of the village.
Damages to crops and loss of human lives caused by the wild elephant intrusions is a serious and long-standing issue faced by the people in the area. President Rajapaksa emphasized the need for well-planned, sustainable and lasting solution to this problem without resorting to ad-hoc remedies. The President pointed out that for the success of a long-term solution, measures should be taken to expedite the construction of tanks inside the forest area, planting of trees that provide fodder for the wild elephants, activating electric fences and digging of trenches.
President Rajapaksa dealing with shortcomings that he saw on his way to Paligama that adversely affect the lives of the people in the area added that the canals were not properly maintained, tanks have filled up and are covered with weeds. It did not appear that due attention has been paid to uplift the lives of the people. He also added that steps should be taken to increase the yield of farmers as well.
At the “Discussion with the Village” programme yesterday, the President assessed the educational needs of the area. The President instructed the relevant officials to develop the buildings, playgrounds and other infrastructure facilities and to address the shortage of teachers in Rajavigama Junior School, Muriyakulama Junior School, Aluthgama Dutugemunu School, Anamaduwa U.B. Jayasuriya Vidyalaya, Inginimitiya Maha Vidyalaya and Galawewa Maha Vidyalaya.
The President directed the officials to come up with a strategy to fulfill the building and human resources requirements of every school in the country within five years and to design a simple and cost-effective plan to construct buildings covering the larger part of schools in remote areas.
Rajavigama-Paligama, Nuriyakulama-Galkulama, Paligama-Nelumwewa, Mullegama-Inginimitiya, Wijayapura Mawatha, Nuriyakulama-Nelumgama roads and Kaladiya-Meeoya bridge were also earmarked to be developed promptly.
Salination of drinking water sources is another major problem faced by these people. Ways and means of meeting drinking water requirements of a number of villages in the Puttalam District were discussed at length.
President Rajapaksa inquired from the officials about the delays in implementing irrigation development projects in the area.
The President stressed the need to expedite the development of tanks and dams in Heenatikalma Wewa, Nelum Wewa, Moragaha Wewa, Inginimitiya, Tabbowa, Puliamkulama and Kahatapiliyawa areas. It was also decided to implement the water diversion project from Rajanganaya reservoir to Karuwalagaswewa under a new plan.
The President emphasized that steps should be taken to develop the infrastructure facilities of Anamaduwa, Chilaw, Nawagattegama, Tabbowa and Aluthwewa hospitals and to resolve the shortage of medical, nursing and other categories of staff.
The two laptops donated by the SLT Mobitel and a television set and internet connection donated by Dialog Axiata were handed over to the principals of the Rajavigama and Muriyakulama Junior schools by the President.
Mr. N.K. Wijeratne, a farmer residing in Wanathawilluwa area handed over a sum of Rs. 50,000 to the President as a donation to the COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund.
North Western Province Governor Raja Collure, State Ministers Sanath Nishantha, Piyankara Jayaratne, Arundika Fernando, Members of Parliament Chinthaka Amal Mayadunne, Ashoka Priyantha, Ali Sabri Raheem, Former Member of Parliament Dayasritha Tissera, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, People’s Representatives of the District, Secretaries to the Ministries, Heads of Government Institutions and Security Forces officials and a large number of people were present at the 11h “Discussion with the Village” session held in Paligama.