The government has formulated sustainable plans to revive the Northern economy devastated by several years of tension, and uplift the living conditions of the people in the area. The duty of all state officials is to implement these plans with the motive of making the hopes and aspirations of the people in the area a reality, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.
He was addressing a progress review meeting of the development projects in the North held at the Jaffna Kachcheri last Monday (May 28th). The Premier giving an account of the development projects earmarked for the North, said the Pooneryn new town development, Paranthan Industrial Zone, Kankesanthurai Information Technology Industrial Zone, tourism development, Palali regional airport project and desalination of sea water to produce drinking water are some of the large-scale projects earmarked for the North.
As such, all public officials should devote attention towards giving top priority to uplift the living conditions of the people rather than seeking buildings, vehicles and other requirements. He said he requests all public officers in the area to ensure that people’s hopes are not subverted due to bureaucracy. Problems confronting the housing, roads, land, water, electricity, fisheries and other sectors in the North were discussed at length during the meeting attended by ministers, parliamentarians, other political leaders, people’s representatives, state officials and security forces representatives.
It was decided to appoint a special committee coordinated by all ministers to monitor the economic and social development work in the North and review their progress. Expressing his views after the progress review meeting, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said, “our sole objective is to usher in a giant leap in development, encompassing the entire North including Jaffna. Economic development is the foundation for future progress. To achieve this, we should pursue both traditional and new strategies. We should create new employment avenues. For this we should open new vistas of knowledge.”
“The need for acquiring land for a new sports complex was raised at our meeting. We have to consider two options. Are we to build a lonely sports complex or think anew about building a commercial, housing, sports and fun and games complex? If we join all these segments, such a complex will not only be a hive of activity at all times but also create a host of new income avenues to the people. As such, let us think and plan anew and march forward.” The Prime Minister said the scarcity of water was another problem confronting the North. “As such, we need to undertake rainwater harvesting, tank rehabilitation and desalinate sea water for drinking.”
No industry can march forward without the availability of water. The Northern economy was torn apart due to the war. This also made the people disheartened. We have to bring all this back to normality, he said. The Prime Minister said he believed that it was better for them to discuss the scarcity of land and resources for people's agricultural pursuits rather than the shortage of employees or vehicles. Certain officials complained about the lack of vehicles, staff and other needs, the Prime Minister said, adding that he clearly understood these difficulties but what was more important was to uplift people's living standards. Therefore, as officials and politicians, they all had to make an attitudinal change.
The Prime Minister said the government had to think anew about the fisheries industry too. Plans had been formulated to go beyond traditional fishing methods and infuse new technology and introduce fish farming. Premier Wickremesinghe said they should take urgent steps to resolve the housing problem in the North. The progress achieved in releasing land should be taken forward in keeping with people's needs after discussions with security forces, he said.
The Prime Minister added that several visits made by the President to the North in recent times displayed the keen interest shown by the government to the welfare of the North. All development project in the North were undertaken under the President's patronage.Some people in the North migrated to other countries due to the war. “We should try to seek their contribution too towards the development of the North."
Minister D. M. Swaminathan, State Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran, Parliamentarians S. Sidaran, Mavai, S. Senadhiraja and E. Saravanapawan, Northern Province Governor Reginald Cooray, Secretary to the Prime Minister Saman Ekanayake, Jaffna GA and other officials were also present.