Nationalism cannot be sustained without strengthening economy - President | Daily News
Dickellakanda ‘Discussion with the Village’ Programme

Nationalism cannot be sustained without strengthening economy - President

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President’s Principal Advisor Lalith Weeratunga and others at the meeting.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President’s Principal Advisor Lalith Weeratunga and others at the meeting.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that going to the grassroots level to give swift solutions to public grievances is neither political gimmick nor media hype.

“The next Presidential Election is almost four years away. We travel to the villages to fulfil the respective duties that should be performed while in power. No other President has ever gone among the people living in rural areas to give them a hearing and relieve them of their burden even though they may have visited these villages as members of the Opposition. It is not my method being confined to Colombo and ascertains the people's problems only by consulting officials. There may be some who may criticise this system but I will work according to my own method," President Rajapaksa said.

“I became the President after rendering years of service to the people. One can become a people's leader only by right performance of the responsibilities of a leader.” The President, therefore, advised the young people's representatives to go among the people to see for themselves the difficulties citizens undergo and addressed them.

The President was participating in the “Discussion with the Village” programme held on Saturday at the Dickellakanda Junior College in the Dickellakanda Grama Niladhari Division in the Deraniyagala Divisional Secretariat Division in the Kegalle District. This marks the ninth in the series of “Discussion with the Village” that the President attended.

The President said that if any individual or a group engages in illegal activities misusing the decisions made to solve the problems of the people as a pretext, they will be severely punished.

It was decided to grant the cultivation rights to the farmer who has cultivated a land for generations. The President said that it has been revealed that a group of people is exploiting this opportunity to cause damage to the environment and the forest reserves. The power of nature must be used for the betterment of human beings. President Rajapaksa said that nationalism could not be sustained without strengthening the economy and that the aim of the Government is to build a national economy based on agriculture.

A student presenting an issue to the President.

The “Discussion with the Village” programme commenced on September 25, 2020 from the Badulla District. The previous programmes were organised covering the Matale, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura, Ampara, Polonnaruwa, Kalutara and Moneragala Districts. The idea behind this programme 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 to find solutions. 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 objective of the programme is to reach out to the people of the villages, ask their questions and find solutions through their own suggestions.

Dickellakanda is at a distance of about 23 km from Deraniyagala and borders the Sri Pada reserve. Asgala, Pallahena, Namalwatta and Urawanawa belong to the Dickellakanda Grama Niladhari Division. These villages have 208 families comprising a population of 718. Maliboda, Pothdeniya and Magala are the other villages around Dickellakanda.

A majority of the residents of these villages, which are in a highly sensitive ecological zone, are engaged in tea cultivation or in an occupation affiliated with it. Cloves, Cardamom and Pepper are their other plantation crops. Twenty five families are engaged in the Kitul industry.

The people are severely affected because of the underdeveloped road network and bridge system and the weak public transport services.

During the programme, the villagers apprised the President of various issues they face frequently. President Rajapaksa instructed the officials to commence development of the road forthwith from Pothdenikanda to Dickwellakanda and complete it.

The President also instructed the relevant officials to develop the roads in the area including routes from Maliboda to Pandeniya to Sri Pada, Deraniyagala to Nuriya-Udamaliboda to Dickellakanda and Maliboda to Urawanawa-Ambagahakanda expeditiously.

President Rajapaksa highlighted the need to develop the minor access roads in rural estate areas across the island connecting them with the by-roads in close proximity.

It was also decided to carry out a comprehensive survey of all the bridges in the area and develop them accordingly. The President also instructed that if contractors fail to deliver their service appropriately in the construction, they should be blacklisted and replaced with other well performing agencies and contractors.

“From now on, all the constructions should be expedited under the supervision of people’s representatives and officials,” the President added.

Special attention was paid to expedite the Polgaswatta, Basnagala-Horagahahinna Water Projects to address the shortage of clean drinking water and to identify the water sources in the district for fulfilling drinking water needs.

President Rajapaksa advised the Urban Development Ministry to develop Maliboda systematically and the Estate Housing and Community Infrastructure State Ministry to launch a new housing scheme soon.

It was also decided to construct a new building for the Dickellakanda Junior College, accommodate laboratory facilities and develop the school playground. President Rajapaksa also decided to donate a three-wheeler to the school to facilitate transportation for the teachers.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Ministers, State Ministers and Secretaries at the discussion.

The development of the Pothdenikanda Vidayala’s playground will commence immediately. The President instructed the Secretary of Education to provide sports ware and band instruments to all the schools that do not already have them. President Rajapaksa also advised the officials to look into the computer requirements at the schools and meet them accordingly.

President Rajapaksa added that steps should be taken to address the shortage of teachers at all schools in the district and to develop other infrastructure facilities. Special attention was paid to providing opportunities for students who have passed the GCE Advanced Level Exam to fill the vacancies for teachers in English, Mathematics, Science and Information Technology at Tamil medium schools.

It was also decided to fill the vacancies of medical and other staff members in rural hospitals in the Kegalle District and to develop the infrastructure facilities as well. The President also paid his attention to the issues of lands in the area.

The computers that were donated by the SLT Mobitel for Dickellakanda Junior College, Maliboda Tamil College and Udamaliboda Sri Devananda Vidyalaya and televisions and internet connections by Dialog Axiata were handed over to the principals of those schools by the President.

Sabaragamuwa Province Governor Tikiri Kobbekaduwa, North Central Province Governor Maheepala Herath, State Ministers Kanaka Herath, Tharaka Balasuriya, MPs Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, Sudath Manjula, Sarathi Dushmantha, Rajika Wickramasinghe, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, District People’s Representatives, Ministry Secretaries, Heads of the State Institutes and Security Forces officials and several others attended.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa arriving at the village.  Pictures by Preident’s Media Division
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa inquiring about villagers’ issues.