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The National ‘Aluth Sahal Mangalya’ (New Rice Festival) one of the most venerated ancient agricultural rituals to offer the maiden harvest of Maha season to the Lord Buddha was held today (04) under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the sacred Sri Maha Bodhiya premises.

It is an annual custom to set aside the first portion of the recently recede harvest to prepare Buddha Pooja. The event was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Services for the 54th time under the guidance of Chief Incumbent of Atamasthana Ven. Prof. Pallegama Sirinivasa Nayaka thero.

A large number of farmers from different parts of the country were present at the traditional ceremony with the hope of receiving blessings of the nature and the Triple Gem to receive timely showers, bountiful of harvest and prosperous economy for the country.

Following the ancient traditions, the New Rice Festival Perahera (procession) entered the Bo Maluwa through the eastern wahalkada amidst hewisi sounds and filled the gold-plated bowl set up in the pavilion in front of sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, with rice with great respect and devoutness.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa performed the traditional custom of filling the bowl with fresh rice amidst the chanting of Seth Pirith by the Maha Sangha led by Ven. Pallegama Sirinivasa Nayaka Thero.

Afterwards, the Miniters and MPs as well as a large number of farmers from different parts of the country filled the bowl with fresh rice.

The first copy of the magazine compiled by the Department of Agrarian Development to mark the New Rice Festival was presented to the President Rajapaksa by the Commissioner General of Agrarian Development  Mr.A.H.M.L. Abeyratne.

Basnayake Nilame of the Saman Devalaya Nigara Jayasundara Bandara handed over the bowl of ghee to the President to pay homage to the sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

The pure bee honey bowl traditionally offered to the sacred Jayasri Maha Bodhiya by the indigenous community was handed over to the President by Uruwarige Gunabanda representing his Leader Wannila Aththo.

The President symbolically distributed seed paddy blessed with Seth Pirith to the representatives of the farmers’ unions from 9 provinces.

Following the traditional ceremony, the President paid homage to the sacred Sri Maha Bodhiya, and obtained blessings.

Later, the President and Madam Ioma Rajapaksa called on the Chief Incumbent of Atamasthana Ven. Prof. Pallegama Sirinivasa Nayaka thero and inquired about his well-being.

The Maha Sangha, Minister of Agriculture Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Minister S.M. Chandrasena, Governor of the North Central Province Maheepala Herath, State Ministers Duminda Dissanayake, Shashindra Rajapaksa, Shehan Semasinghe, Channa Jayasumana, MP K.P.S. Kumarasiri,  and public officials were present at the occasion.

“Discussion with the Village” brings results in 03 months… 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today (04) vested in people the “Kanugahawewa Model Village” constructed by the Air Force at the request of the President after listening to the grievances of the villagers during the 04th “Discussion with the Village” programme held in Kebithigollewa.

Kanugahawewa village in the Kebithigollewa Divisional Secretariat was selected for the “Discussion with the Village” programme which was held on the 30th of December.  LTTE terrorists frequently attacked Kebithigollewa. On June 15, 2006, the LTTE exploded a massive claymore mine targeting a civilian bus enroute to Kebithigollewa killing more than 68 civilians who lived in Kanugahawewa and surrounding villages.   From 1995 to 1998 and from 2006 to 2008, the residents of these villages were forced to live in camps due to LTTE terror. Despite the end of that menace, villagers continued to experience many serious economic and social problems. The President instructed the relevant officials on that day to provide solutions for their land issues, repair works in connection with tanks and canals, development of major roads and by –roads and to improve health, education and transport issues as soon as possible.

Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudharshana Pathirana took over the task of meeting the housing needs and other requirements in Kanugahawewa Village to mark the 70th anniversary of the Sri Lanka Air Force. The President entrusted the responsibility of identifying the needs of the area and the task of submitting the plans in this regard to the Chief Incumbent of the village temple, the Divisional Secretary and the Chairman of the Pradeshiya Sabha and the Grama Niladhari.

President Rajapaksa who arrived in Kanugahawewa today first visited the Abhinawarama Temple and engaged in religious observances. Later the President called on the Chief Incumbent of the temple and inquired into the well-being of the Nayake Thera.

The President inspected the construction site of the proposed temple, the newly constructed Bodhigaraya and the Awasageya as well as the completed bell tower.

President Rajapaksa who visited the Kanugahawewa Primary School premises handed over the keys of 12 newly built houses and the “Teachers’ Quarters” to the owners of the respective houses and the Principal.

The SLAF Seva Vanitha Unit donated school uniforms and equipment to the children.

The President also inspected the playground at Kanugahawewa Primary School, the Model Home Gardening Project, the Teachers’ Quarters and the eye surgeries performed at the Mobile Eye Hospital.

Families who had been in possession of government lands without clear ownership started receiving grants recently. The President symbolically handed over deeds to five persons in Kanugahawewa village.

The President then visited the ‘Kanugahawewa Model Village’ and inspected a newly constructed house and also the newly erected 15 km long elephant fence at the Kanugahawewa Model Village.

President Rajapaksa who visited a nearby house engaged in a cordial discussion with the residents and inquired into their well-being.

Minister S.M. Chandrasena, State Ministers Duminda Dissanayake, Shehan Semasinghe, Channa Jayasumana, Members of Parliament K.H. Nandasena, K.P.S. Kumarasiri, Governor of the North Central Province Maheepala Herath and a number of Air Force officials were also present at the occasion.

 
 

 

 

 

Easter, the noblest festival in the Christian calendar, symbolizes the victory over evil and sin. Easter further provides devotees an opportunity to repent each individual’s sin in order to bring the spirit of renewal to the human life.

The Christians all over the world spend the 40 day lent period begins on Ash Wednesday indulging in religious activities recalling the crucifixion, sacrifice, and the death of Jesus. They celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, with full of joy and delight, on Easter Sunday.

The Christian community, during this period, commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to save humanity.

Two years ago, when the Easter Sunday was being celebrated by the Sri Lankan Christian community with utmost devotion, they became victims of most brutal attacks by extremists. The sorrowful memory of pain and loss caused by this tragic incident had not faded away from the broken hearts of the suffering people even today. We will leave no room for the culprits as well as groups, who are responsible for this dastardly attack to escape the arm of law. Also, the government is determined to ensure national security in order to prevent recurrence of such tragedies in the Motherland.

The Christian teaching of love and mercy that Jesus Christ taught us provides a strong foundation for the society. Therefore, let us determine that in this Easter Sunday, we will unite and stand together to overcome various conflicts and calamities that we have to face in today’s world and to live in a society filled with love and harmony.

I wish everyone a Peaceful Easter.

     Gotabaya Rajapaksa   

  April 01, 2021

Laid the foundation to move the country forward while addressing the suffering of people

Ø Leaders of previous government now act as if they have never been in power

Ø Easter Sunday attack, MCC compact, Eastern Terminal Agreement were issues created by them ; now they protest against us

Ø If misled by falsehoods, the outcome will be irreversible

                                                                   President says at “Discussion with the Village”

“We will face the Geneva challenge without fear. We will never succumb to pressures. We are a free nation. We will not be a victim of big power rivalry in the Indian Ocean.” President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stresses.

He observes that the foundation has been laid for the country to move forward while correctly identifying and resolving the problems faced by the people for a long time now. The government is bounded to meet the basic needs of the people. It is not only the responsibility of the government but also that of the officials as well. This foundation will strengthen the economy in a manner that is most effective for the country and will prioritize addressing the issues of the rural people.

Back in the day, Colombo was developed into a green city. Strategies are now in place to utilize renewable energy sources to the tune of 70% of energy requirements by 2030. Steps have been taken to supply electricity to the main power grid from over 7000 solar power systems. The use of chemical fertilizer will be reduced by 25% every coming year. All these projects are aimed at conserving the environment as well as strengthening the economy.

“Foreign and local forces who cannot stand this progress and the mafias which support them are misleading the public. The devastation caused in the last five years can repeat if the true progress is left unnoticed and you choose to believe lies and misled yourself. If you give into those lies the damage could be irreversible.” President says.

The President made these remarks addressing the gathering at the beginning of the 16th “Discussion with the Village” program held at the Derangala Maha Vidyalaya premises in the Kiriwelkele North 3rd Step Grama Niladhari Division which falls within the limits of Pitabeddara Divisional Secretariat Division in the Matara District yesterday (27).

National security was ignored due to the wrong priorities of the previous government. The Easter Sunday attack was a result of that. War heroes were imprisoned on baseless charges. The country’s sovereignty was compromised by co-sponsoring the Geneva resolution. Attempts were made to destroy the culture and religion associated with our unique heritage by provoking issues in relation to tamed elephants.

 The country was thrown into a crisis by entering into agreements such as the MCC Compact and the Eastern Container Terminal Agreement. The President added that they are being resolved today.

President highlighted that those who created and supported all the issues are now protesting against the present government adding that several prominent figures from the former government pretend as if they were never in power. The President observed that although it was not his way to respond to baseless allegations, now he has to answer and expose lies.

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, Kandy, Puttalam, Trincomalee, Kurunegala, Galle and Nuwara Eliya districts. The idea behind this program 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 takes time to deal with are noted down to find solutions later. The objective of the program is to reach out to the people of the village, understand their problems and find solutions giving considerations to their own suggestions.

Kiriwelkele North 3rd step Grama Niladhari Division is located 12km away from Pitabeddara town. It is a highland colony established in 1958 and it became Kiriwalkale village following the settlement of people in the area. It is the most difficult village which falls within the limits of Pitabeddara Divisional Secretariat area. The total population of the Grama Niladhari Division is 2990 comprising 622 families. Most of the owners of small tea holdings in the Matara district live here. The main sources of income are tea, cinnamon, rubber, black pepper and coconut.

President Rajapaksa arrived at Dehigaspe Dudley Senanayake Maha Vidyalaya, Pitabeddara and from there he made it to Derangala Maha Vidyalaya to attend the “Discussion with the Village” program. President Rajapaksa conversed with the people gathered on both sides of the road as well as the people and students gathered in close proximity to Derangala Junior College and inquired into the problems that ail them.

President Rajapaksa opened the ‘Smart Classroom’ facilitated with a high-speed internet connection donated by Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) Mobitel to Derangala Maha Vidyalaya and presented the laptops with internet connections donated by SLT Mobitel and the TV set and the internet connection provided by Dialog Axiata to the Principal of the Seelarathana Junior School, Banagala.

Another objective of President Rajapaksa is to develop school library facilities in all areas where the “Discussion with the Village” programme is held. The President presented sets of books to schools under the programme “A generation empowered with knowledge”. Each school receives 500 books covering a number of subjects to assist students in their further education.

A programme to grant title deeds to the families who had been in possession of government lands without clear ownership started recently. President Rajapaksa symbolically presented title deeds for 5 families in the Pitabeddara Divisional Secretariat Division, yesterday (27).

It was decided at the “Discussion with the Village” to expedite the development of bridges including Pahuruthota, Jambugasdola, Mederipitiya and Velangavita which were destroyed by the floods.

The President instructed the officials to resolve the issues regarding the unauthorized use of land belonging to the Land Reforms Commission and conduct surveys following a joint inspection of large tracts of land under plantation companies.

It was decided to hold a “Land Day” to resolve all existing land issues in Pitabeddara and adjoining villages.

The Road Development Authority was tasked with identifying unsafe slopes on roads in the area and constructing safety fences.

President Rajapaksa instructed the relevant officials to develop about 120 km of roads including Derangala, road near the Podidahayakanda bus stand, Mahena Ella road and Nagahahena 517 road in Banagala East within the next few months.

Farmers apprised the President regarding the difficulties faced by them in selling cinnamon produce. The President instructed to formulate a proper system and monitoring mechanism to end the injustice caused in purchasing grade A cinnamon as grade B. The Ministry of Plantations was directed to distribute high-quality cinnamon seedlings to nurseries owned by Cinnamon Farmers’ Associations.

The small-scale tea plantations in the area have a history of over 35 years. It takes more than 2 years to replant and collect tea harvest. The President emphasized the need to expedite the replanting of tea by providing an annual allowance for two years to compensate the loss of income during this period as a remedy.

The President instructed the Secretary of Education to take steps to eliminate the issue of shortage of teachers and develop infrastructure facilities in schools including Thalapekumbura Junior School, Derangala Maha Vidyalaya, Siyambalagoda West Junior School and Kalubowitiyawa Maha Vidyalaya as well as to construct a flyover at Alapaladeniya Secondary School.

It was instructed to implement a drinking water project in Morawaka and to establish a number of small community water units covering 60 Grama Niladhari Divisions.

The President also directed the officials to renovate the Derangala Health Center and provide immediate solutions to a number of public problems including infrastructure development and filling vacancies in health centers in the area.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Minister Dullas Alahapperuma, Governor of the Southern Province Dr. Willie Gamage, Minister of State Kanchana Wijesekera, Members of Parliament Nipuna Ranawaka, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, Karuna Kodithuwakku, Principal Adviser to the President Lalith Weeratunga, People’s representatives of the district, Secretaries to Ministries, Heads of Government Institutions and the Security Forces were present at the “Discussion with the Village” programme held on the  premises of Derangala Maha Vidyalaya.

 
 

  • An opportunity for public to come up with ideas & creative proposals to formulate a “Sustainable Education Policy Framework”….
  • A policy formulated with broad public support can withstand change of governments

–          President point outs

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa points out that the “Digital Platform” is a great opportunity for the public to come up with ideas and creative proposals in order to formulate a “Sustainable Education Policy Framework”.

“The vision and philosophy of a country is shaped by its education system. An outdated education system creates a society that cannot keep pace with the modern world. A policy formulated as a result of wide public representation cannot be changed in the event of a change of government, the President says.

President Rajapaksa states that one of  the main objectives of the National Policy Framework, “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” is to design and nurture knowledge-based human capital to suit the 21st century. To achieve this target, a number of educational reforms need to be implemented. President Rajapaksa says that he expects the future generation of the country to be brought before the world as a generation armed with knowledge and talent through the ‘new education reforms.

The President made these remarks addressing the ceremony held at Temple Trees today (26) to launch the ‘Digital Platform’ to solicit the views of the public on the proposed education reforms.

The theme of the ‘Digital Platform’ is ‘Towards a Perfect Education that Enriches Wisdom and Mind’.

The President officially launched the ‘Digital Platform’.

From today for the next 3 months, the public can submit suggestions and ideas for new education reforms to the “digital platform” through egenuma.moe.gov.lk  website.

People are invited to submit proposals under four main sub-sectors specifically Pre-School Education, Primary and Secondary Education, Vocational and Tertiary Education and Higher and Vocational Education. The “Digital Platform” is open to receive wider public feedback and suggestion for a sustainable education policy.

Another goal of the reforms is to enhance avenues to higher education. Job oriented skill development is expected through the modernization and restructuring of curricular in the universities.

The President said that a total overhaul is required in the Open University system so as to assist those who are employed to improve their further educational qualifications.

He said that his aim was to provide a complete sophisticated education to all Sri Lankan children from the pre-school stage and that the current shortcomings in the internet and technology facilities would be fully addressed by the year 2023.

The President noted that he expects to usher a prouder future for Sri Lanka which has inherited a proud past with new education reforms.

The Maha Sangha, other religious dignitaries, Ministers Prof. G.L. Peiris and Namal Rajapaksa, Governor of the Western Province Marshal of the Air Force Roshan Goonetileke, Governor of the Eastern Province Anuradha Yahampath, State Ministers Sita Arambepola, Vijitha Berugoda, D.V. Chanaka, Ambassadors, Secretary of Education Prof. Kapila Perera, State Secretary of Education Dr. M. Upali Sedara, Government Officials, several principals, teachers and school students were present at the occasion.

The 16th “Discussion with the Village” program presided by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will be held in Kiriwelkele North, step 03 Grama Niladhari Division in the Pitabeddara Divisional Secretariat Division in the Matara District tomorrow(27). The discussion will commence at 10.00 am at Derangala Maha Vidyalaya. The People’s representatives including the Ministers and MPs of the District, Secretaries to Ministries, Heads of various institutions and officials will be participating in the public forum tomorrow.

This is the second Discussion with the Village program in the Southern province. Kiriwelkele Grama Niladhari Division, a highland colony established in 1958, is the most difficult village which falls within the limits of Pitabeddara Divisional Secretariat area. The total population of the Grama Niladhari Division is 2990 comprising 622 families. Most of the owners of small tea holdings in the Matara district live here. The main source of income is tea and cinnamon, rubber, black pepper and coconut.

People in Kiriwelkele and surrounding villages have long been suffering from a number of common issues. These include poor road conditions and transport difficulties, lack of health and sanitation facilities, lack of drinking and cultivating water, agricultural problems, shortage of houses and lack of communication facilities. There are also issues relating to educational sector, including inadequate school infrastructure and shortage of teachers. People also face a number of problems related to forest conservation regulations.

The ultimate goal of the “Discussion with the Village” programme is for the President to go grass roots, with the officials, to witness himself the difficulties suffered by fellow citizens first hand, in order to uplift the rural sector. Building a strong national economy based on agriculture is one of the key pledges made to the people by the National Policy Framework, “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”.

The rural folks, who constitute about 75% of the population of Sri Lanka, still suffer from a wide variety of problems including economic and social issues. Landlessness, absence of proper title deeds, shortage of water for drinking and cultivation purposes, underdeveloped status of roads and transport issues, health and education issues, the human-elephant conflict,  bureaucratic lethargy  are a few of them. The objective of the programme is to reach out to the people of the villages, understand their problems and find solutions through their own suggestions. 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.

President Rajapaksa is of the view that understanding the issues that affect the rural people from a one-sided perspective is one of the reasons for the delay in giving solutions for their issues. Officials see the problem from their own perspective while villagers according to their sentiments. The President believes that the process of providing solutions could be expedited through correctly identifying all aspects of the problem. This approach has been used in previous “Discussion with the Village” programmes to provide immediate and long term solutions to a number of issues.

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, Kandy, Puttalam, Trincomalee, Kurunegala, Galle and Nuwara Eliya districts.

 
 

  • A media group that worked against country during war has reappeared …
  • Will fulfill responsibilities of 60- month long mandate with commitment …
  • No one should worry about the next President….
  • Laws are there for People’s benefit…
  • Another 100,000 jobs for poorest of the poor….
  • Walapane and Pudaluoya townships to be fully developed

President tells at the “Discussion with the Village”

“Media freedom does not mean freedom of media owners. Certain media owners want to run the country the way they want.  I cannot allow that to happen “, said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

President Rajapaksa also said that he has not exerted any influence on the media as the President, and he will not hesitate to take necessary legal actions against such groups, if they attempt to push the country and the people backward, by abusing media freedom for the benefit of various groups and individuals.

The President is of the view that today a group of media persons who had worked against the country during the war has reappeared and through their media institutions are attacking nationalist ideology and programmes.

The President made these remarks participating in the 15th in the series of “Discussion with the Village” programme held yesterday (20) at the Yombuweltenna village in Walapane Divisional Secretariat Division of the Nuwara Eliya District.

The majority of voters elected me as the President to rebuild this nation. Only 16 months have passed out of the 60-month long mandate. There is still considerable time ahead. Some are worried about the next President. No one should worry in this regard as it is people’s choice. The President said that the remaining period of the tenure will be utilized to fulfill the aspirations of the people by working hard to uplift the national economy as well as the rural masses’ living standards. The responsibility of the officials is to support the people to maintain their livelihoods. People should never be oppressed. The President also stated that he did not expect any offensive act from the side of public officials that would disrupt the daily life of the people.

“I have never destroyed the environment. During the time when I was the Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development, I have carried out works that no one had ever done for environmental conservation. Even Independence Square was filled with garbage dump. That miserable situation was eliminated and the city of Colombo was transformed into a green garden. A Senior Minister in the previous government has gifted a 30 acre land in Hanthana  Forest Reserve to his daughter. If they had protected the environment, they would not have had to come before the media and cry today”, the President said.

During the period 2015-2019, 77 acres of forestlands in the Kurunegala District, 258 acres in Puttalam, 100 acres in Moneragala, 224 acres in Anuradhapura and in many other areas including Milewa, Matale, Laggala, Rideegama and Welikanna have been destroyed.  The President further said that it is ridiculous that such people pointing fingers at the government today.

Poverty alleviation and economic upliftment in rural areas is a major policy of the government. 35% out of the 75% of the rural population are directly engaged in the agricultural sector. President Rajapaksa also said that he will fulfill his responsibility towards economically empowering the rural people while implementing all necessary measures for the development of agricultural sector

A programme to provide 100,000 employment opportunities for the benefit of the poorest families was launched. Already, 35,000 jobs have been given. President Rajapaksa stated that another 100,000 jobs will be granted after the completion of the first programme.

The President also said that it is the responsibility of the government officials at regional level as well as the people’s representatives to identify the most suitable persons to offer these employment opportunities. The President also pointed out that the lack of skilled workforce has considerably contributed to the slow progress in development projects in the country.

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, Kandy, Puttalam, Trincomalee, Kurunegala and Galle districts.

The objective of the programme is to reach out to the people of the villages, understand their problems and find solutions through their own suggestions. 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 Yombuweltenna Grama Niladhari Division is located 13 km away from the Walapane town.  It is one of the most difficult villages out of the Grama Niladhari Divisions that belong to Walapane Divisional Secretariat Division.  It is said in the folklore of the area that Yombuweltenna village is the place where Keppetipola Nilame rejoined with the soldiers of the Sinhala army to initiate Uva–Wellassa uprising . It is said that the village got its name due to the abundance of yombuwel, a medicinal plant.  It has a population of 397 comprising 139 families. Cultivation of paddy and vegetables are the main livelihoods of the villagers.

The President was warmly welcomed by the people gathered on both sides of the road from the Nildandahinna Public Ground, where he first arrived in, to Yombuweltenna.

The President inquired about the problems of the people and posed for a photograph with the children of the Kalaganwatta Navodya School.

A resident of the area, who introduced locally produced sausages, to the President said that he had obtained the required knowledge in this regard at a Viyathmaga seminar and showed him a photograph taken there.

People gathered on both sides of the road requested the President to resolve the issue of causing damage to their crops by wild animals for a long time.

The President presented the laptops with internet connections donated by SLT Mobitel to the principals of the Vidyadeepa Secondary School and Siduhath Maha Vidyalaya in addition the TV set and the internet connection provided by Dialog Axiata to the Principal of Tennabodhi Primary School.

Another objective of President Rajapaksa is to develop school library facilities in all areas where the “Discussion with the Village” programme is held. The President presented sets of books to schools under the programme “A generation empowered with knowledge”. Each school receives 500 books covering a number of subjects to assist students in their further education.

A programme to grant title deeds to the families who had been in possession of government lands without clear ownership started recently. President Rajapaksa symbolically presented title deeds for 5 families in the Walapane Divisional Secretariat Division, yesterday (20).

The main problem faced by the people in the area is the underdeveloped state of the roads and by-roads. The issue was discussed at length. The President directed the relevant authorities to immediately develop Galwatta – Yombuweltenna Road, Theripehe – Molandewa, Galaha – Deltota to Rikillagaskada Road, Yatiwella – Mathurata Road, Theripehe, Nildandahinna main road and several other by roads.

It was also decided to construct 15 bridges on the main and by roads of the area. It was also decided to complete all community water projects in the area including Yombuweltenna, Lavellagolla, Makunagahapitiya, Hapugahapitiya, Kalaganwatta based on the needs of the people.

It was decided to develop the Walapane water purification plant. He also instructed to expedite the renovation of several other tanks in the area including Dadakele, Welithuduwa, Paragahalanda, Kiriwadunna, Mukalan and Udakanda.

The shortage of teachers in the schools in the area should be addressed. It was also decided to enhance the infrastructure facilities of several schools in the area including Kalaganwatta Navodya Secondary School, Arunodaya Hindu Vidyalaya, Rankelambuwa Maha Vidyalaya, Udamadura Sri Vidya Pradeepa Secondary School.

It was also decided to elevate Madulla Secondary School to the level of a national school.

Under the Rural Playground Development Programme, it was directed to develop one playground in each Divisional Secretariat Division.

Financial allocations were also made for the development of infrastructure facilities of 12 temples which conduct Dhamma schools. The President agreed to the request made by the Theras to fulfill the material requirements of the Pirivenas in the Central Province.

Land issues pertaining to the 13 Grama Niladhari Divisions were identified during the “Discussion with the Village” programme. The President instructed to take immediate action to resolve all these issues and provide deeds accordingly.

It was also decided to repair all the elephant electric fences constructed in the area as a solution to the wild elephant intrusions.

The People pointed out that the phineas and turpentine in the district are harmful to the environment. The President advised the environmental authorities to uproot these varieties and plant local plants favourable for the environment.

Officials highlighted that the Copperia arabica Lakparakum variety is the fourth tastiest coffee in the world. The Nuwara Eliya District has the most suitable environmental and climatic potential to grow this coffee variation. The President instructed the local authorities to pay more attention to the promotion of this coffee variant and planting them throughout the district.

It was also decided to develop infrastructure facilities of Regional and Rural Hospitals in Walapane, Bogawantalawa, Nildandahinna, Maturata, Theripehe.

Authorities were also instructed to take steps to address the shortage of doctors, nurses and minor staff in the district.

It was also decided to establish two wards for Bhikkus at Rikillagaskada and Walapane hospitals. The President also advised the officials to inspect the shortcomings of all estate hospitals in the area and to rectify them.

A decision was made to set up an army camp in Walapane area to deal with security matters and emergencies in the area.

People stressed the need for a fertilizer distribution center in the Walapane area. The people criticized the former government for neglecting the harvest collection centers in the district. The President directed the authorities to set up harvest collection centers at convenient places in the district.

It was also proposed to popularize the cultivation of Cinnamon and Aloe Vera in the fallow paddy lands that are no longer suitable for paddy cultivation.

Decisions were also taken for the full development of Walapane and Pudaluoya towns as requested by the people for a long time.

Minister C.B. Ratnayake, Governor of the Central Province Lalith U. Gamage, State Minister Jeevan Thondaman, MPs S.B. Dissanayake, Nimal Piyatissa, Rameshwara Marudapandi, Principal Adviser to the President Lalith Weeratunga, People’s representatives of the district, Secretaries to Ministries, Heads of Government Institutions and the Security Forces were present at the “Discussion with the Village” programme held at Yombuweltenna.

Ø  Garment owners assure President of meeting export targets

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that the government, which is well aware of the challenges faced by the local apparel industry, is ready to extend its fullest support to enhance its productivity and quality. “We will follow a well-planned strategy to reach this objective”, President added.

The President made this remark at a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (15) with representatives of the Joint Apparel Association Forum.

In Sri Lanka, the apparel sector is one of the leading export industries. Sri Lankan apparels have become a world-renowned brand name among all other globally recognized apparel manufacturers. The President highlighted that a large sum of foreign exchange could be earned by reviving the local apparel industry.

The government is enthusiastic to meet the targets, and this year the government expects an income of  $ 5.1 billion. The businessmen assured the President that they are committed in achieving these goals.

Entrepreneurs explained the challenges before them in the industry due to health guidelines imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was proposed during the discussion to look into the possibility of relaxing certain health guidelines imposed on the garment sector without affecting the public health condition of the country.

The President also paid attention to the shortage of human resources in the industry and stressed that generating quality and secure employment opportunities could conveniently attract youths to the sector.

Extension of visa validity period for the potential investors and adopting a relaxed policy in issuing visas were discussed during the meeting.

Ministers Dinesh Gunawardena, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, State Ministers Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Channa Jayasumana, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Governor of the Central Bank Prof. W.D. Lakshman, Chairman of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Sanjaya Mohottala, Secretaries to the Line Ministries and Government Officials, Mr. Ashroff Omar, Chairman of the Joint Apparel Associations Forum and several other members were present at the discussion.

Priority for national security then and now ….

Ø  Foreign forces oppose nationalism and patriotism ….

Ø  We made our farmers rich instead of foreign farmers…

Ø  Secured sovereignty by withdrawing external agreements detrimental to the country….

President says at the “Discussion with the Village” programme

Opposition has the freedom to make various allegations. But these allegations should be based on facts. However, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stated that the campaign to mislead the people by making absurd allegations cannot be allowed and must be countered.

‘Recently, a statement made by an Opposition MP regarding the Easter Sunday attack was circulated in the media. It is a statement that directly concerns national security. Therefore, the CID investigated the matter. The MP who made the allegation gave conflicting answers to the CID such as ‘I forgot, lost memory, I don’t know’. The people should never be misled by making such baseless allegations,’ the President pointed out.

The previous government co-sponsored the resolution brought against us by the UN Human Rights Council. Rejecting that position, the present government withdrew from co-sponsorship. Promises made to the people are being systematically fulfilled. We have withdrawn from the agreements that were detrimental to the country, including the MCC Compact. Earlier, protestors were treated with tear gas and baton charges, now we have allotted a separate site for demonstrations. Steps were taken to protect our farmers by building an agro-based economy while giving priority to national and local interests. The economic policy that has enriched the foreign farming community so far has been changed and the environment has been created to uplift our farmers by cultivating what can be grown in the country. It is in this context, the President stated that this is the first time that he has seen the Human Rights Council submitting a report with the highest number of allegations of human rights violations against the government.

The President made these remarks yesterday (13) participating at the 14th “Discussion with the Village” programme held at the Janapada Junior School premises in Galagoda East Grama Niladhari Division in the Hikkaduwa Divisional Secretariat Division of the Galle District.

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, Kandy, Puttalam, Trincomalee and Kurunegala districts. The ultimate goal of this programme is to meet the people in the remote villages, who have not been given due attention so far, inquire into their problems and immediately bring them to the notice of the officials and provide solutions.

The other issues which take time to deal with are noted down to find solutions later. Most issues identified during the “Discussion with the Village” programme are immediately addressed giving consideration to the suggestions and recommendations of the villagers with the assistance of the state officials.

Galagoda East Grama Niladhari Division is located 7 km away from the town of Ambalangoda. It is bordered on the south and east by Madampawila Sanctuary and to the Kuligoda village in Hikkaduwa Divisional Secretariat Division on the west. Galagodawatta Tsunami Village, Galagoda Colony and Galagoda New Colony belong to the Grama Niladhari Division. It has a population of 3711 comprising 1072 families. Fishing industry, Agriculture, Cinnamon and Coir rope industry are the main livelihoods of the villagers.

The President who arrived at the Galagoda Maga Neguma Ground to participate in the “Discussion with the Village” programme engaged in cordial discussions with the people who were gathered on both sides of the road leading to the Janapada Kanishta Vidyalaya and inquired about their existing issues and well-being.

President Rajapaksa declared the smart classroom open facilitated with a high speed internet connection donated by the SLT Mobitel at Janapada Kanishta Vidyalaya and presented laptops with internet connections to the principals of the Kuligoda Sumana Vidyalaya and Kumara Kashyapa Vidyalaya in addition to the television and the internet connection provided by Dialog Axiata.

Starting the “Discussion with the Village” program, the President inquired from the Maha Sangha about the shortcomings prevailing in the temples of the area.

President advised the officials to elevate Madampagama Maha Vidyalaya to the level of a National School and to develop the infrastructure facilities and the playgrounds of Ambalangoda Kularatne Maha Vidyalaya, Paraliya Sri Jinaratana Vidyalaya, Janapada Kanishta Vidyalaya, Weragoda Vijayaba Secondary School, Akurala Kanishta Vidyalaya, Kuligoda Sumana Vidyalayas.

President Rajapaksa paid special attention to the issues affecting the fishing industry, one of the main livelihoods of the people of Galaboda and the surrounding villages, and held lengthy discussions with the villagers and officials.

He instructed the officials to expedite the development of Peraliya, Dodanduwa, Ambalangoda, Hikkaduwa and Balapitiya fishing harbors. Special attention was paid to solve the problems of fishermen engaged in the seine(Ma dhal) fishing industry.

President Rajapaksa directed the government to renovate the tsunami fishing houses and expedite the resolution of long-standing land issues.

The President inquired into the difficulties faced by self-employed people in handicraft industries including Coir rope, mats, Coir and Coconut palm broom industries and directed the officials to provide them with the necessary facilities and a market for their products.

It was decided to carpet 21 roads and 49 short-distance roads in the area including the construction of Balapitiya, Maduwa Bridge and Rattagama Devithigoda Bridge.

Approval was granted to develop freshwater fisheries by converting abandoned paddy lands in Boossa, Pitiwella and Kadurupe areas into reservoirs. The President instructed 700 acres of fallow paddy lands identified in Ambalangoda to be distributed among 700 youths for Coconut plantation.

The President paid attention to a number of issues pertaining to tourism, health, drinking water, electricity and dairy farming.

The provision of grants to families who had been in possession of government lands without clear ownership started recently. President Rajapaksa presented grants for 5 lands under the Hikkaduwa Divisional Secretariat symbolically yesterday(13).

Another objective of President Rajapaksa is to promote school library facilities in all areas where the “Discussion with the Village” program is held. The President presented sets of books to schools under the theme “A generation empowered with knowledge”. Each school receives 500 books covering a number of disciplines to assist students in their further education.

Minister Ramesh Pathirana, Governor of the Southern Province Dr. Willie Gamage, State Minister Mohan P. De Silva, MPs Sampath Athukorala, Chandima Weerakkody, Isuru Dodangoda, Shan Wijayalal De Silva, Principal Adviser to the President Lalith Weeratunga, People’s Representatives of the District, Secretaries to Ministries, Heads of Government Institutions and Defense Forces and several others were present at the “Discussion with the Village” program in Janapada Kanishta Vidyala premises.

Full text of the views expressed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa participating at the 14th “Discussion with the Village” programme held at the Janapada Junior School premises in Galagoda East Grama Niladhari Division in the Hikkaduwa Divisional Secretariat Division of the Galle District (2021-03-13).

We, as a government, hope to go among the people to witness the difficulties suffered by fellow citizens firsthand and to give swift solutions to their grievances. It has been one year and four months since I became the President. Nine months after I came into power, the parliamentary election was held. We were able to secure a great victory. You have given us a 2 / 3rd majority in Parliament because you have approved the measures that I have taken during those 09 months.

It has been about 8 months since the Parliament was elected. During that time various allegations were leveled against us as well as our government. The Opposition has launched a campaign to mislead the people by making absurd allegations. One of the most talked about topics in recent days is the Easter Sunday attack. An Opposition MP had accused me, Basil Rajapaksa and Nissanka Senadhipathi of being behind this incident. I directed the CID to investigate into this statement. That MP had been summoned to the CID to obtain the information he knew. Concealment of information is a criminal offence. So when they asked him to reveal the information he possessed, that MP gave conflicting answers to the CID saying, ‘I forgot, lost memory, I don’t know’. They had tried to misled people by making such baseless allegations. If we did not take actions to investigate into this matter, that statement would have gone among the public as a truth. This is a national issue and not something that can be used to achieve narrow political agendas. If the Opposition raises such absurd allegations even using such a national issue, you can imagine how they make various allegations on other issues. Opposition has the freedom to make various allegations. But these allegations should be based on facts. Information that misleads people should not be used. That is what is expected from politicians.

I’ve seen these days they often say that we are destroying the environment. I was sent a poster depicting a decayed tree trunk and stating ‘thank you’. At least put a picture of a freshly cut tree, as merely one year has passed after assuming the Presidency and how does that trunk rot in such a short time? As the Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development, I have undertaken various projects to protect the environment in Colombo and its suburbs as well as in the outstations. The environment is not just about trees, I am someone who has worked hard to protect lowlands and reservoirs.

When I went to the villages, one of the concerns people often raised was the non-availability of title deeds to their lands. We have now commenced a programme to grant deeds under the Ministry of Lands. Recently, we granted 20,000 deeds. We will continue that programme in the future as well. In addition, another issue pointed out was that lands that have been cultivated and inhabited for many years by the villagers, now have been demarcated by erecting border stones, using the Google Map facility. As a result of that the lands used by those people at present belong to the forest conservation department.

So we made a policy decision that we should look into this issue in a practical manner in order to provide an unprejudiced solution. But that does not mean you can use it as an excuse to clear forests. If deforestation takes place in Somawathiya or Kuchchiveli, it cannot be considered as their traditional lands. Licenses were not granted for the purpose of deforestation. In case of such activities, forest conservation and wildlife officials should take stern action against those illegal activities.

Recently, I went to Gomarankadawala village in the Trincomalee district for a programme similar to this. During that meeting, our own MP said that a forest was being cut down in a certain area. I immediately sent the army. I told them to go and see and if that news is true immediately halt that activity. There has been a tendency for cutting down forests in the Eastern Province as a result of various officials issuing permits in this regard. These are not things that happened in our time. Those things had started during the previous government. We told them to stop those kind of activities. Officers need to be proactive. We need to look at the problems of the helpless people in a more practical manner. And we need to catch those who do these things as a business. They are top businessmen with money. Sometimes I see in the newspapers that 1000, 5000 acres of forests are being cleared. What were the officers doing when so much destruction had taken place? We need to catch the culprits when the first tree is cut down. Most of the time legal actions are constituted against innocent people. We have taken policy decisions to look at these issues in a practical manner.

Many of the promises I have made to the people have being systematically fulfilled. However, correct  information regarding those policy decisions has not gone to the people. There was so much controversy about the MCC agreement before we came to power. It was talked about everywhere. We, as a government, explained to that foreign government regarding the actual situation and withdrew from the proposed agreement. Now no one talks about it. The previous government co-sponsored the resolution brought against us by the UN Human Rights Council. Rejecting that position, the present government withdrew from that co-sponsorship. This is the first time that I have seen the Human Rights Council submitting a report with the highest number of allegations of human rights violations against the government. I do not know what human rights violations we have committed in the last one and a half years. It says that human rights violations have increased after this government came to power.

Earlier, protestors were treated with teargas and baton charges, now we have allotted a separate site for demonstrations. But the Human Rights Council sees it as a violation of human rights. We have been able to fulfill our respective duties, particularly with reference to nationalism, for religion, for the country, especially for the agricultural sector. When such a government comes to power all foreign forces as well as all local forces come together against the government.

You are well aware that then President Mahinda Rajapaksa united this country ending the 30 year war and carried out a massive development programme. It was at that time that a great deal of development and economic growth took place in our country.

But what happened in the year 2015, all these forces came together and leveled baseless allegations, and defeated him.  All of you know what happened in the next five years. Our war heroes were imprisoned and were ill-treated. They were taken to courts and prepared grounds to be taken them to international courts. Local institutions were destroyed. All this happened in those five years. All our achievements vanished. That’s what they are trying to do again, you have to understand them.

During this period we have provided employment opportunities to 100,000 persons and recruited 60,000 unemployed graduates irrespective of what subjects they have studied. I have promised to employ 100,000 low-income earners by providing a job for every low-income family. 35,000 jobs were given under the first phase. The second phase will begin when their training is over. Unskilled individuals without any formal education or of lower level of education will be selected under the programme in order to raise the income level of the low-income families.

In addition, as promised, we have withdrawn ourselves from the agreements which were detrimental for our country. When two governments come to an agreement, we cannot withdraw from the terms on a whim. But after close scrutiny, and discussions with the relevant countries we drew ourselves out of them. Despite that, absurd allegations are made against us. People should be aware of these. One of the weaknesses of us as a government is inability to spread true information to the people.  We have to acquaint the public with these absurd allegations leveled against us. Do not be misled by these allegations. I know during parliamentary elections, people requested me to ensure national security and even prior to that, because the people were frightened. We were losing control in national security. We were overpowered by foreign hostile forces. We changed all that. Especially in relation to national security.

The report of the PCoI on Easter Sunday attack repeatedly states that the previous government did not pay any attention to national security and it was the reason for this attack. True, we told the same thing back then. Not only did we win the war but we also placed required security measures to prevent a war from happening again, especially in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. However, during the previous government everything was neglected. Intelligence officers were imprisoned, and complaints were leveled against them. The security arrangements in those areas were completely dismantled. Even if a simple poster had been pasted, we would catch them. If you can remember, anyone who were even involved in minor incidents were apprehended. That is how we ensured national security. However, the Report clearly concludes that the previous government did not pay any attention to it and national security was ignored.

We have re-activated the program we carried out by deploying competent personnel to ensure national security. But when something like this collapses, it is difficult to rebuild. It will take some time. The existing intelligence services need to be re-launched. Officers need to be reinstated in those areas. The Special Forces, especially the police. There were about 50 camps in the Eastern Province. They have been removed from those areas and only a handful of camps remain.

I advised these camps to be placed once again, because separatist terrorism or Islamic extremism will not be allowed under our government. That is our national security. I’m well versed in national security and gravely concerned about it too. Under President Mahinda Rajapaksa I was entrusted with this responsibility as the Secretary of Defense. We worked as a team to end the 30-year war. I know how hard and how dedicated they were in executing it. So I will never allow this victory to be spoiled.

Those  who neglected national security as a government are now trying to pin Sunday Easter attacks on former President alone. The Report of the commission has clearly shown that the previous government did not give due importance to national security. All those who were part of the former government are responsible for this heinous attack.

His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has made a statement claiming that some politicians are involved in the attack and they were not mentioned in the report. We will investigate them as well. Those politicians are not with us. They did not help bring me or the government into power. They are with the opposition. We don’t want to protect anyone. We are not up for negotiation. We have 2/3rd power. We came to power without any help from them. So we don’t need to protect them. If they have done anything wrong, they will be exposed. After we came to power, in addition to those who were arrested by the CID, the police, the Terrorism Investigation Division, we have arrested others that had ties with foreign countries and several others who were engaged in them were also apprehended. Investigations are being carried out and they will continue until all the culprits are caught by the law.

Now there is no point in blaming our government for this tragedy. This did not happen during the time of our government. We did not even appoint this commission. In its Report, this Commission clearly states that we did not exert any influence on them. There was no need to do so. I saw another place where it states that some parts were not handed over. But this Report was handed over to me on February 1st. By February 28, it was submitted to the Cabinet, Parliament and then to the Attorney General. But it clearly states that the required part of the report is the first volume. Evidence from various sources, some of that evidence has been provided by intelligence officils is included in the report. As the evidence provided by the intelligence services is important for national security, it clearly states, “Volume 3 of the report contains documents marked C. Volume 4 contains documents marked X. Volume 5 contains documents submitted by the witnesses or by lawyers on behalf of their witnesses. We would like to draw Your Excellency’s attention to the fact that the documents marked as X have classified the information obtained by the Intelligence Divisions. In addition, the evidence taken from witnesses and Intelligence Units concerning national security were recorded in utmost secrecy. We respectfully recommend considering these matters before deciding to publish them to the general public.”

They are matters concerning national security. They are not necessary for the courts. I clearly stated not to publicize them. Use them only if they are necessary for prosecution. We have handed them over to the Attorney General. We have delivered them to those who require them. Despite that, I have seen false accusations regarding this as well.

So we request you not to be deceived by baseless absurd allegations. If you do, our program will be in jeopardy once again. Why do these foreign forces rise against our government so much? As a policy, they are against the policies we follow. They don’t want to see nationalism in a country. They oppose the emergence of national leaders as well as local identity. There are some in our country that are financed by them and depends on it. These kinds of people are there in any country. They have united for this reason. I assure you we will always stand up for you. That is why I am coming to your village, to you.

I take pleasure in greeting all those celebrating the Maha Sivarathri Festival in Sri Lanka and World over a blessed day. 
 
Hindu devotees in Sri Lanka have a long tradition of living in harmony with all ethnic groups. Devotees of the Hindu faith will fast on the day of the festival as they believe that spiritual liberation will manifest through the fast. 
 
They believe that fasting and engaging in holy rituals will lead to enriching their spiritual lives. They believe that observing a pure and holy fast will bless them with the spiritual strength of God. 
 
I trust that the pure and holy fast of the Hindu devotees world over will be blessed by Lord Shiva and that all that is good and pure will come to pass. 
 
May all the hopes of a prosperous future be fulfilled by the light of the lamps lit on the day of Maha Shivarathri.
 
May Maha Shivarathri be a meaningful and joyous day for all those celebrating in Sri Lanka and around the world!
 
 
 
 

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