President, PM urge uplift of estate community lives
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa emphasised on the need to construct houses for estate workers in close proximity to their existing line homes.
The construction of 4,000 houses for estate workers commenced in 2016 with funding from the Indian Government. Nearly 669 houses were constructed in the last five years under this project.
Officials claimed that practical issues in the supply of infrastructure facilities delayed the construction.
Essential infrastructure facilities have already been provided for the people living in estates. “Therefore, the construction of their new residences in close vicinity to their line houses would allow them to experience these benefits,” they added.
President Rajapaksa has stressed that it is important to uplift the lives of the estate community without shifting their current habitats.
The President also noted that construction plans for these new houses should be supervised by the State Engineering Corporation to ensure higher standards and better quality.
The President made these remarks during a meeting with the State Ministry of Estate Housing and Community Infrastructure Facilities to review their future vision at the Presidential Secretariat on 29 September.
President Rajapaksa stated that in addition to the Government measures to promote the living conditions of the estate people, private estate companies should fulfil their part of responsibilities for a healthy outcome.
The State Ministry of Estate Housing and Community Infrastructure Facilities should liaise with line Ministries including Health, Education, Agriculture, Housing, and Sports and take measures to uplift the living standards of the estate community, the President added.
The President stressed the need to develop pre-schools, primary schools and medical centres in the estate sector.
There was also a lengthy discussion on the importance of providing vocational training to estate youth so that they can obtain National Vocational Qualification level certificates and to guide them to find employment opportunities.
The President stated that 438 estate health centres should be taken over by the Government and a quality service should be provided for the benefit of the estate community.
Plans mooted to promote tourism in Bandarawela, Hatton, Nuwara-Eliya and Ella were also taken up for discussion.
The President emphasised that all development activities should be carried out without delineating the estate and the village.