Jan 09, Colombo: President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says that he has changed the political practice of not visiting the village while being in power and he will bring sustainable development to every village by solving the problems of the people identified while in the Opposition.
The President said it is the duty of the law to punish the wrongdoers and he is not ready to intervene and take political revenge as the previous government did. He called on the opposition to engage in fair politics without misleading the people.
President Rajapaksa made these remarks today while visiting the Uhana, Lathugala village in Ampara as part of his "Gama Samaga Pilisadarak" (Conversation with Village) program.
This is the fifth in a series of Conversation with Village program. Lathugala village located 24 km from Ampara town was chosen for today’s visit. The meeting was organized at Lathugala Primary School, Weranketagoda.
The villagers of Lathugala say the village originated with the settlement of 15 families who survived the Uva Wellassa Rebellion. Today it is home to a population of 783 from 231 families.
The President discussed the issues related to Agriculture, Transport, Health, Education, etc. that were raised and the instructions were given to the officials to resolve the villagers’ issues within a reasonable period.
People from several nearby villages including Uhana, Damana, Galapitagala, Gonagolla, Padiyathalawa, Dehiattakandiya, Mahiyanganaya, Bandaraduwa, Mahakandiya and Bokkabedda gathered to convey their grievances to the President.
Chena farming with rainwater is the main livelihood of the people in Lathugala and many other surrounding villages cultivating maize, cowpea, millet (kurakkan) and vegetables. The farmers are severely affected by the fall army caterpillar menace and the threat of wild elephants is also a major problem affecting them.
Among the other major problems faced by the people of Lathugala is the need to withdraw from traditional chena farming due to marking of land as a reserve in the wildlife and forest conservation surveys.
The President informed the people that a policy decision has been taken to allow farmers who traditionally cultivate in all the villages of the country to continue their livelihood without any influence from wildlife or forest conservation or any other institution. The President called on Government Agents and Divisional Secretaries to assist the people accordingly.
“It is one of the problems faced by the people of the village. The way officials look at issues is another way. Ideas of opinion makers from Colombo are even more contradictory.” Therefore, the President emphasized the need for officials not to limit themselves to their offices but to go to the villages and identify people’s real problems and provide solutions.
People have to go to the Uhana Dispensary, 16 km away, or to the Ampara Hospital, 24 km away, for treatment when they get sick. As a solution to this, the President instructed to establish a Primary Health Center in Bokkabedda Village to provide services to the people of many surrounding villages.
It was decided to construct a new building and playground for Lathugala Primary School and to expedite measures to alleviate the shortage of teachers.
President Rajapaksa instructed officials to immediately address the shortage of teachers at Uhana Vidyaloka Vidyalaya, Walagampura Vidyalaya, Uhana Weranketagoda Maha Vidyalaya, Galahitiyagoda, Priyangala, Rajagala, Nugetenna and Uhana Tissa, Ampara National Schools.
Officials were also instructed to complete the work on the Ampara-Lathugala road soon. Work on the Lathugala - Bokkabedda - Ethul Oya road, Bakmitiyawa - Pannalgama, Maha Oya - Kuruduwinna roads was also ordered to be completed soon. It is planned to develop 1150 km of roads in the Ampara District under the 100,000 km road development program. The President also instructed that the road development work be handed over to the contractors only to those who can do so responsibly.
The President instructed the officials to expedite the reconstruction of the Kotapathdamana tank as a solution to the water shortage which is a major obstacle to agricultural activities. The President paid special attention to the drinking water problem of the people. President Rajapaksa instructed to lay water pipes on the by-roads belonging to Lathugala village and asked for an immediate solution to the drinking water problem.
It was decided to supply water to Padiyathalawa from the Rambaken Oya reservoir and to provide drinking water facilities to many villages including Tampitiya, Poonawali and Malliyathivu. It was decided to repair the tanks including Yodhakandiya, Kotapathdamana, Lathugala, Hulannuge and Handapadagama soon.
President Rajapaksa also instructed to construct a fertilizer storage complex in Lathugala village.
The President also handed over three computers donated by SLT and Mobitel to the principals and students of Lathugala and Vidyaloka Colleges.
State Minister Wimalaweera Dissanayake, Eastern Province Governor Anuradha Yahampath, Members of Parliament W.D. Weerasinghe, Thilak Rajapaksa, ALM Athaulla, Chief Adviser to the President Lalith Weeratunga and a number of people’s representatives, Secretaries to Ministries and Heads of State Institutions participated in the Lathugala "Conversation with the Village" program.