Feb 20, Colombo: President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has emphasized that officials with decision-making authority must attend the District and Regional Development Committee meetings to implement people’s projects.
The President stated that from the outset of the “Discussion with the Village”, he had realized that the lack of proper contribution of responsible officials was the main reason for the delay in effective projects and the loss of their benefits to the people.
The people are suffering due to the tug of war between the officials, the institutions and the people’s representatives, the President said pointing out the need for the responsible officials of all major institutions including wildlife, forestry, environment and roads to come to a collective decision in the implementation of projects.
Lack of proper planning of land use is not the fault of the people, President Rajapaksa said. He added that it is very important for the officials to go to the land and see the real situation and make decisions when giving permanent solutions to many rural problems, including land issues.
Some people misinterpret policy decisions taken from the side of the people, President Rajapaksa said emphasizing that he will never allow the real problems of the people to be obscured by this.
The President made these observations participating in the 11th ‘Gama Samaga Pilisandara’ (Discussion with the Village) program held at the Nelumwewa Community Hall premises in the Paligama Grama Niladhari Division in the Karuwalagaswewa Divisional Secretariat Division in the Puttalam District this morning (20).
One of the poorest and most rural villages in the island is selected for the "Discussion with the Village". The people living in these villages have been suffering from a number of unresolved issues for a long time.
“These problems cannot be solved by looking at them from an officials’ or any other party’s angle alone. Therefore, officials and villagers can make the right decisions by meeting each other,” the President said while addressing the gathering at Paligama.
The “Discussion with the Village” program was launched on September 25, 2020 in the Badulla District. Past programs were organized covering Matale, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura, Ampara, Polonnaruwa, Kalutara, Moneragala, Kegalle and Kandy districts. It is the intention of the President to meet the people of the remote villages outside the city who have not been given due attention so far, to inquire into their problems and to bring them to the notice of the officials at the same time and provide solutions.
Problems that take time to resolve will be noted to be addressed later. The aim of the "Discussion with the Village" program is to reach out to the people of the village, ask their questions and find solutions through their own suggestions.
Paligama village is located 23 km away from Puttalam town, bordering Nawagattegama and Anamaduwa Divisional Secretariat areas. This village is mentioned in folklore as the village where the shield (Paliha) of King Dutugemunu fell. It later became Paligama.
Paligama Grama Niladhari Division includes Neliwewa, Siyambalawewa, Nelumwewa, Rajavigama and Heenatikalma and 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.
At present the population of Paligama is 1533 consisting of 447 families and 171 families are Samurdhi recipients. Paddy and chena farming is the main livelihood of the people of the village.
Damage to crops and lives by wild elephants is a serious and long-standing problem faced by the people of the area, the President noted. The President emphasized the need for a planned, long-term and lasting solution to this problem without resorting to piecemeal solutions.
The President pointed out that construction of tanks in the interior of the forest, the cultivation of trees for wild elephants to eat, the activation of electric fences and the digging of trenches as long term solutions.
Noting the shortcomings affecting the lives of the people he observed on his way to Paligama, President Rajapaksa said the canals were not properly maintained. “Tanks are overgrown with weeds. It does not appear that proper plans have been put in place to uplift the lives of the people,” he said. He also said that steps should be taken to increase the farmers’ yield.
In the conversation with the village today, the President reviewed the educational needs of the area and instructed to develop school buildings, playgrounds and other facilities of Rajavigama Junior School, Muriyakulama Junior School, Aluthgama Dutugemunu School, Anamaduwa U.B. Jayasuriya Vidyalaya Inginimitiya Maha Vidyalaya and Galawewa Maha Vidyalaya and to address the shortage of teachers.
The President directed the officials to plan the building and human resource requirements of every school in the country to be completed within five years and to design school buildings in remote areas under a simple and low cost plan so that more schools could be developed.
It was also decided to rapidly develop Rajavigama - Paligama, Nuriyakulama - Galkulama, Paligama - Nelumwewa, Mullegama - Inginimitiya, Wijayapura Mawatha, Nuriyakulama - Nelumgama roads and Kaladiya - Meoya bridge.
Mixing of salts to drinking water is another problem faced by the people. Meeting the drinking water needs of many villages in the Puttalam District was discussed at length.
President Rajapaksa inquired from officials about the delays in irrigation development projects in the area. The President emphasized the need to expedite the development of tanks and dams in Heenatikalma Wewa, Nelum Wewa, Moragaha Wewa, Inginimitiya, Tabbowa, Puliamkulama, Kahatapiliyawa and other areas.
It was also decided to implement the water transfer 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 alleviate the shortage of medical nurses and other staff.
President Rajapaksa handed over two laptops donated by SLT Mobitel to Rajavigama and Muriyakulama Junior Schools and the television set donated by Dialog to the principals.
Mr. NK Wijeratne, a farmer residing in Wanathavilluwa area handed over Rs. 50,000 to the President as a donation to the Covid 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 Rahim, Former Member of Parliament Dayasritha Tissera, Chief Adviser to the President Lalith Weeratunga and representatives of the people of the district, Secretaries to Ministries, Heads of Government Institutions and the Security Forces participated in the Discussion the Village program in Paligama.