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“We changed political culture of forgetting village after winning power” President

Sri Lankan presidential candidate and former defense chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa waves to media as he leaves the election commission after filing his nomination in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. A record 35 candidates filed nominations Monday for next month’s Sri Lankan presidential election, but the incumbent has opted not to seek a second term with the entry of Rajapaksa, who is considered the favorite. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

No political witch hunt; only strict adherence to law: will not entertain lumpen politics – President says in Lathugala

·        Policy decision to allow cultivation without hindrance

·        Officials must visit villages

·        Every village to see sustainable development

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the political culture of forgetting the village after winning power has been changed.

The problems identified while in the Opposition will be addressed and sustainable development will be achieved in every village, President added.

“”Punishment for offences committed is a function of the law. I am not ready to intervene in this process. The previous administration pursued a policy of political witch hunt. I do not condone that practice. I called on  the opposition to engage in civilized politics without misleading the public”, President Rajapaksa further stated. 

President made these comments participating in the “Discussion with the Village” programme in Lathugala, Uhana in Ampara district yesterday (9).  This marks the fifth in the series of “Discussion with the Village” attended by the President.

Addressing the gathering President remarked “People and Maha Sangha expect from me the role played by me as the Defence Secretary before I assumed Presidency. LTTE terrorists carried out a suicide bomb attack at the Piththala junction targeting me. People are aware of the fate of the terrorist leader who led this attack. Although I am ready to act either as Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa or Gotabaya Rajapaksa I will not entertain lumpen politics as the Opposition does”.

The “Discussion with the Village” programme commenced on September 25, 2020 at Welanwita in Haldummulla Divisional Secretariat Division in Badulla district. The second of the series was held  in Himbiliyakada in Wilgamuwa Divisional Secretariat Division in Matale district while the third was in Rawanakanda, Imbulpe in Balangoda. The fourth programme was held in Kanugahawewa in Kebethigollawa last week.

The village of Lathugala in Uhana Divisional Secretariat located 24km away from Ampara city was chosen for yesterday's (9) discussion. The public gathering took place at the playground of Lathugala Primary school in Varanketagoda. Villagers from several surrounding hamlets including Uhana, Damana, Galapitagala, Gonagolla, Padiyathalawa, Dehiaththakandiya, Mahiyanganaya, Bandaraduwa, Mahakandiya and Bokkabadda gathered there to present their grievances to the President seeking redress.

The area of Lathugala is of 9 square kilometers. Villagers say the settlement was started by 15 families who survived in the Uwa Wellassa rebellion. Now the village has 231 families with a population of 783.

Chena cultivation utilizing rainwater is the main source of livelihood of the people in Lathugala and surrounding villages. They cultivate maize, cowpea, sorghum and vegetables and are severely affected by the menace of Armyworm caterpillars.

Among the other major issues faced by the people of Lathugala is their expulsion  away from  traditional farming lands due to marking them as reserves during Wildlife and Forest Conservation surveys. President informed the people that a policy decision has been taken to allow farmers to engage in traditional cultivation activities in all villages of the country without undue restrictions imposed by Wildlife or Forest Conservation or any other institute. The Government Agents and Divisional Secretaries were requested by the President to act accordingly and assist the public.  

“People living in villages see the problems faced by them from one angle.  The way officials look at the issue is different from that. Opinion of people living in Colombo is even more contradictory”. Therefore the President emphasized the need for officials not to confine themselves to their offices but to go to the villages and identify genuine problems faced by the people and provide solutions.

People are compelled to go to the Uhana Dispensary, 16 km away, or to the Ampara Hospital, 24 km away, for treatment due to lack of facilities in the vicinity. To rectify this situation, President instructed to set up a Primary Healthcare Center in Bokkabedda Village to serve the people of many surrounding villages.

It was decided to construct a new building and a playground at the Lathugala Primary School and to provide a solution to the prevailing teacher shortage issue. President advised officils to address the problem of shortage of teachers at Uhana Vidyaloka Vidyalaya, Walagampura Vidyalaya, Uhana Waranketagoda Maha Vidyalaya,Negethenna and Uhana Thissa Ampara National Schools expeditiously.

Instructions were also issued to complete the construction of Ampara, Lathugala road speedily. The work of Lathugala – Bokkabedda – Athuloya road, Bakmitiyawa – Pannalgama, Mahaoya – Krunduwinna roads was also ordered to be completed soon. Plans are underway to develop 1150 kilometers in Ampara district under the programme to develop 100,000 kilometers of roads. President also instructed that the road development work be handed over to the contractors only those who can carry it out responsibly.

President directed the relevant parties to expedite the reconstruction of Kotapathdamana tank as a remedy to the shortage of water which is a major obstacle to agricultural activities. President Rajapaksa paid special attention to the drinking water problem of people. Issuing instructions to lay pipe lines along the by roads in Lathugala village President called for an immediate solution to the drinking water problem.

It was agreed to supply water to Padiyathalawa from Rambakan Oya reservoir and to provide water to several villages including Tampitiya, Poonawali and Malliyathivu. Several tanks including Yodakandiya, Kotapathdamana, Lathugala, Hulannuge and Handapadagama will be renovated soon.

It was also advised to construct a fertilizer storage in Lathugala.

President handed over 03 computers to the Principals of Lathugala and Vidyaloka Vidyalayas donated by Mobitel.

State Minister Wimalaweera Dissanayake, Eastern Province Governor Anuradha Yahampath, Members of Parliament W. D. Weerasinghe, Thilak Rajapaksha, A, L. M. Athaullah, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, political representatives in the area, Ministry Secretaries and heads of several government institutes were present during “Discussion with the Village” programme. 

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