President orders permanent solution
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said permission would be given to farmers to engage in their traditional cultivation activities without any disruption until issues confronting them were resolved.
The President focussed on issues raised by farmers who attended the sixth in the series of the programme ‘Discussion with the Village’.
The President instructed Wildlife, Forest Conservation, Environment, Police officials and everyone concerned to permit farmers to carry on with their traditional farming. However, he said forests should not be cleared for new cultivations.
Polonnaruwa is severely affected by threats posed by wild elephants. The President asked officials to look into the problems faced by these villagers from a humanitarian angle and construct trenches and electric fences as a permanent solution.
Villagers, who gathered, highlighted the disruption caused to education due to work being stalled in many schools in the District. President Rajapaksa directed the authorities to expedite development work in schools in the island.
The President took these decisions at the Wedikachchiya village in Medirigiriya, in the Polonnaruwa District, on Saturday (16).
The programme commenced on 25 September 2020 from the Badulla District. Five programmes have so far covered - Matale, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura and Ampara Districts.
Meeting those in remote areas who had not been given a hearing for a long time, the President drew the attention of officials to inquire into difficulties faced by villagers and find solutions fast. Problems that could be solved on-the-spot were instantly addressed.
The Wedikachchiya village, in the Medirigiriya Divisional Secretariat, located around 45 km away from Polonnaruwa city, belongs to Zone ‘D’ of the Mahaweli Development project. Villages of Samagipura, Darshanapura, Dahamwewa and Peramaduwa, covering around 79 square kilometres were included. The population is around 2,561 belonging to 723 families. Agriculture and self-employment are the main sources of livelihood of people in Wedikachchiya and surrounding villages. A major problem faced by villagers is that paddy cultivation was restricted to the Maha Season due to the shortage of water, as a result, they move out to seek alternate employment as hired labourers.
Meanwhile, President Rajapaksa said new houses would be constructed, demolishing the existing ones in the Wedikachchiya village which lacked basic facilities. Officials were instructed to take immediate steps to repair canals and tanks and provide irrigation facilities to solve the long-standing cultivation problems of villagers, enabling them to cultivate during both the Yala and Maha seasons.
Villagers pointed out the damage caused by deer to crops in the Medirigiriya – Watadageya area. A decision was taken to erect a steel net fence covering deer habitats. NCP Governor Maheepala Herath agreed to provide funds for the purpose.
President Rajapaksa emphasised the need to set up vocational training facilities for students who sit the GCE (A/L) examination. The State Minister in charge would be informed and vocational training opportunities would be ensured, he said.
The President paid special attention to the drinking water shortage in the area and instructed the authorities to complete the project to meet the demand for water of ten thousand families. He instructed to construct a water purification plant connecting Kaudulla Wewa and laying the required pipelines before the end of 2021. He also instructed officials of the Ministry of Power to provide solar power systems free of charge to schools and low-income families who were unable to pay electricity bills.
The President instructed to fulfil existing requirements in hospitals and schools in the area and expedite road works.
Parallel to the programme, the President participated in the opening of the Mahaweli Primary School in Bisopura, Medirigiriya. President Rajapaksa invited former President Maithripala Sirisena who spearheaded the construction of the school to open it.
The President handed over two computers donated by Mobitel and a television set donated by Dialog to the Principal.
Former President Sirisena, State Ministers Roshan Ranasinghe, Siripala Gamlath, MP Amarakeerthi Athukorala, NCP Governor Herath, Chief Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, political representatives of the area, Ministry Secretaries and heads of Government entities were among those who attended the programme.