Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has pledged to accelerate the development of the island’s poorest province strengthening the state machinery and going beyond concretization to increase the economic productivity helping the people. The Prime Minister made this pledge during a tour in the Northern Province today to inspect the progress of development projects launched in the Province.
The Premier is touring the Northern Province to review progress of the development projects including resettlement, housing construction, land release, job creation and infrastructure development commenced in the Province, after the present government came to power.
Participating in the progress review meeting of the development projects in the Kilinochchi district secretariat, the Premier emphasized that measures should be taken to increase economic production aiming at improving the quality of life of the people.
The Premier said he has discussed the problems faced by the people in the Province during a meeting with the people’s representatives of the area MPs S. Sritharan and Mavai Senathirajah and made the visit to the area today to look into those problems as well as to discuss the progress of the development projects.
“We must remember that Northern Province is the poorest among the nine provinces of the country. Except Jaffna, the situation has a major impact in the province, mainly in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu areas. There has been some progress in the Vavuniya area,” he noted.The Premier pointed out that there are several problems to resolve when developing the Jaffna area, especially return of military occupied land.
“It is especially important to hand over the lands that are in the custody of the Army. The Jaffna city could be transformed into a massive urban development. But there is a huge problem with the use and wastage of water,” he pointed out. “Therefore we first focus on improving infrastructure, returning the lands and resettlement of people,” he said adding that there is some progress to be seen but in some places there are still shortcomings and the needed work is being carried out with the collaboration of the relevant ministers “We must also focus on uplifting the living standard of the people in these areas,” he said.
Recalling that the UNP government started the Mahaweli Project in 1977 to develop the entire country the Premier said the Northern Province did not benefit since the war erupted before the development could reach the Province. “Now we must restore that development somehow. Getting water to this area is very important for development. Through the Malwathu Oya reservoir, water can be obtained for parts of Mannar and Vavuniya,” he said.
The Premier revealing that the government has commenced a massive development program from Kandy to Hambantota and Monaragala and a massive development plan has been prepared for Rajarata, Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee as well, said what is needed now is to include Jaffna, Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi areas also into the development plan. “We need to plan to expand Sri Lanka’s development from Jaffna to Hambantota, and the Kilinochchi area is the first that need to be developed,” the Premier added.
“The first requirement is to get water. We need more systematic water supply schemes. During the rainfall, area receives more water than needed. We should store the rain water to use during the droughts and should look into rain water conservation projects,” he emphasized.
The Premier said during the reign of Rajarata, a large number of paddy fields were found in Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and there was a program to save water for paddy cultivation. In some places, paddy was cultivated and other grains were cultivated in some areas. “We have to implement these programs again,” he stressed. “We also hope to commence a program to uplift the fisheries industry in this area. The tourism industry in Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, and Trincomalee areas should also be developed. We also focus on setting up factories in Paranthan. With all these programs, we will explore the possibility of improving this area,” he said.
“In 1978 this area became a district. At that time no one from Jaffna was elected to universities. I hope to return this area to development after it became a battlefield. We can come together again without the division of North and South. Since the war is over, these areas should be added to our national plans,” he said.
The Premier noted that President Maithripala Sirisena also visited Jaffna area several times to solve land issues. “I came here today to look into the development work here. I hope to increase the economic output of this region not just constructing buildings for the benefit of the people.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe stressed that Kilinochchi’s contribution to the country’s GDP needs to be increased at least by one-tenth. Then in the future it will be possible to increase it further. “I hope to come back to these areas again and look into these development activities in the future. Especially a project to collect rainwater needs to be started.”
He said after obtaining the land in Paranthan he will initiate discussions with the Board of Investment to initiate industries. “We should provide employment to the war-affected youth.”The Premier said he held discussions with the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) and the OMP will visit Kilinochchi in the future and the government is ready to resolve those humanitarian problems.
“We must create a future for the youth of this area. We should even solve the problems of people disabled during the war. We are ready to work together with the Northern Provincial Council to move ahead with all these efforts. These activities will be continued discussing with the Chief Minister and the Governor. We will inquire whether there will be progress in the economic situation of the people in the future. That’s what need to be done through politics,” the Premier said.
He said the funds will be allocated to the area based on the progress in the education sector and asked the teachers to inform the government if they have problems.”If teachers have problems, let us know. They can be solved through the Minister of Education,” the Prime Minister said adding that graduates will be given jobs in the next few months.Minister D.M. Swaminathan and Parliamentarian Vijayakala Maheswaran were among those present at the progress review meeting held at the Kilinochchi District Secretariat today. The Prime Minister also participle in a progress review meeting at the Jaffna District Secretariat.
Attention was drawn to many matters including the building of the economy in the North, developing industries unique to the North and rthe Premier revealed that a special commercial hub will be established centering the Jaffna District. Discussions also centered on the development of the Palaly Airport and also special housing projects launched on behalf of the resettled families in Jaffna. Provincial Governor Reginald Cooray and Parliamentarians Mavai Senathirajah, E. Saravanabavan and S. Sritharan were among those who joined in the discussion