Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka

Media freedom is not freedom of media owners …

  • A media group that worked against country during war has reappeared …
  • Will fulfill responsibilities of 60- month long mandate with commitment …
  • No one should worry about the next President….
  • Laws are there for People’s benefit…
  • Another 100,000 jobs for poorest of the poor….
  • Walapane and Pudaluoya townships to be fully developed

President tells at the “Discussion with the Village”

“Media freedom does not mean freedom of media owners. Certain media owners want to run the country the way they want.  I cannot allow that to happen “, said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

President Rajapaksa also said that he has not exerted any influence on the media as the President, and he will not hesitate to take necessary legal actions against such groups, if they attempt to push the country and the people backward, by abusing media freedom for the benefit of various groups and individuals.

The President is of the view that today a group of media persons who had worked against the country during the war has reappeared and through their media institutions are attacking nationalist ideology and programmes.

The President made these remarks participating in the 15th in the series of “Discussion with the Village” programme held yesterday (20) at the Yombuweltenna village in Walapane Divisional Secretariat Division of the Nuwara Eliya District.

The majority of voters elected me as the President to rebuild this nation. Only 16 months have passed out of the 60-month long mandate. There is still considerable time ahead. Some are worried about the next President. No one should worry in this regard as it is people’s choice. The President said that the remaining period of the tenure will be utilized to fulfill the aspirations of the people by working hard to uplift the national economy as well as the rural masses’ living standards. The responsibility of the officials is to support the people to maintain their livelihoods. People should never be oppressed. The President also stated that he did not expect any offensive act from the side of public officials that would disrupt the daily life of the people.

“I have never destroyed the environment. During the time when I was the Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development, I have carried out works that no one had ever done for environmental conservation. Even Independence Square was filled with garbage dump. That miserable situation was eliminated and the city of Colombo was transformed into a green garden. A Senior Minister in the previous government has gifted a 30 acre land in Hanthana  Forest Reserve to his daughter. If they had protected the environment, they would not have had to come before the media and cry today”, the President said.

During the period 2015-2019, 77 acres of forestlands in the Kurunegala District, 258 acres in Puttalam, 100 acres in Moneragala, 224 acres in Anuradhapura and in many other areas including Milewa, Matale, Laggala, Rideegama and Welikanna have been destroyed.  The President further said that it is ridiculous that such people pointing fingers at the government today.

Poverty alleviation and economic upliftment in rural areas is a major policy of the government. 35% out of the 75% of the rural population are directly engaged in the agricultural sector. President Rajapaksa also said that he will fulfill his responsibility towards economically empowering the rural people while implementing all necessary measures for the development of agricultural sector

A programme to provide 100,000 employment opportunities for the benefit of the poorest families was launched. Already, 35,000 jobs have been given. President Rajapaksa stated that another 100,000 jobs will be granted after the completion of the first programme.

The President also said that it is the responsibility of the government officials at regional level as well as the people’s representatives to identify the most suitable persons to offer these employment opportunities. The President also pointed out that the lack of skilled workforce has considerably contributed to the slow progress in development projects in the country.

The “Discussion with the Village” programme commenced on September 25, 2020 from Badulla District. Thereafter programmes were organized covering Matale, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura, Ampara, Polonnaruwa, Kalutara, Moneragala, Kegalle, Kandy, Puttalam, Trincomalee, Kurunegala and Galle districts.

The objective of the programme is to reach out to the people of the villages, understand their problems and find solutions through their own suggestions. 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 Yombuweltenna Grama Niladhari Division is located 13 km away from the Walapane town.  It is one of the most difficult villages out of the Grama Niladhari Divisions that belong to Walapane Divisional Secretariat Division.  It is said in the folklore of the area that Yombuweltenna village is the place where Keppetipola Nilame rejoined with the soldiers of the Sinhala army to initiate Uva–Wellassa uprising . It is said that the village got its name due to the abundance of yombuwel, a medicinal plant.  It has a population of 397 comprising 139 families. Cultivation of paddy and vegetables are the main livelihoods of the villagers.

The President was warmly welcomed by the people gathered on both sides of the road from the Nildandahinna Public Ground, where he first arrived in, to Yombuweltenna.

The President inquired about the problems of the people and posed for a photograph with the children of the Kalaganwatta Navodya School.

A resident of the area, who introduced locally produced sausages, to the President said that he had obtained the required knowledge in this regard at a Viyathmaga seminar and showed him a photograph taken there.

People gathered on both sides of the road requested the President to resolve the issue of causing damage to their crops by wild animals for a long time.

The President presented the laptops with internet connections donated by SLT Mobitel to the principals of the Vidyadeepa Secondary School and Siduhath Maha Vidyalaya in addition the TV set and the internet connection provided by Dialog Axiata to the Principal of Tennabodhi Primary School.

Another objective of President Rajapaksa is to develop school library facilities in all areas where the “Discussion with the Village” programme is held. The President presented sets of books to schools under the programme “A generation empowered with knowledge”. Each school receives 500 books covering a number of subjects to assist students in their further education.

A programme to grant title deeds to the families who had been in possession of government lands without clear ownership started recently. President Rajapaksa symbolically presented title deeds for 5 families in the Walapane Divisional Secretariat Division, yesterday (20).

The main problem faced by the people in the area is the underdeveloped state of the roads and by-roads. The issue was discussed at length. The President directed the relevant authorities to immediately develop Galwatta – Yombuweltenna Road, Theripehe – Molandewa, Galaha – Deltota to Rikillagaskada Road, Yatiwella – Mathurata Road, Theripehe, Nildandahinna main road and several other by roads.

It was also decided to construct 15 bridges on the main and by roads of the area. It was also decided to complete all community water projects in the area including Yombuweltenna, Lavellagolla, Makunagahapitiya, Hapugahapitiya, Kalaganwatta based on the needs of the people.

It was decided to develop the Walapane water purification plant. He also instructed to expedite the renovation of several other tanks in the area including Dadakele, Welithuduwa, Paragahalanda, Kiriwadunna, Mukalan and Udakanda.

The shortage of teachers in the schools in the area should be addressed. It was also decided to enhance the infrastructure facilities of several schools in the area including Kalaganwatta Navodya Secondary School, Arunodaya Hindu Vidyalaya, Rankelambuwa Maha Vidyalaya, Udamadura Sri Vidya Pradeepa Secondary School.

It was also decided to elevate Madulla Secondary School to the level of a national school.

Under the Rural Playground Development Programme, it was directed to develop one playground in each Divisional Secretariat Division.

Financial allocations were also made for the development of infrastructure facilities of 12 temples which conduct Dhamma schools. The President agreed to the request made by the Theras to fulfill the material requirements of the Pirivenas in the Central Province.

Land issues pertaining to the 13 Grama Niladhari Divisions were identified during the “Discussion with the Village” programme. The President instructed to take immediate action to resolve all these issues and provide deeds accordingly.

It was also decided to repair all the elephant electric fences constructed in the area as a solution to the wild elephant intrusions.

The People pointed out that the phineas and turpentine in the district are harmful to the environment. The President advised the environmental authorities to uproot these varieties and plant local plants favourable for the environment.

Officials highlighted that the Copperia arabica Lakparakum variety is the fourth tastiest coffee in the world. The Nuwara Eliya District has the most suitable environmental and climatic potential to grow this coffee variation. The President instructed the local authorities to pay more attention to the promotion of this coffee variant and planting them throughout the district.

It was also decided to develop infrastructure facilities of Regional and Rural Hospitals in Walapane, Bogawantalawa, Nildandahinna, Maturata, Theripehe.

Authorities were also instructed to take steps to address the shortage of doctors, nurses and minor staff in the district.

It was also decided to establish two wards for Bhikkus at Rikillagaskada and Walapane hospitals. The President also advised the officials to inspect the shortcomings of all estate hospitals in the area and to rectify them.

A decision was made to set up an army camp in Walapane area to deal with security matters and emergencies in the area.

People stressed the need for a fertilizer distribution center in the Walapane area. The people criticized the former government for neglecting the harvest collection centers in the district. The President directed the authorities to set up harvest collection centers at convenient places in the district.

It was also proposed to popularize the cultivation of Cinnamon and Aloe Vera in the fallow paddy lands that are no longer suitable for paddy cultivation.

Decisions were also taken for the full development of Walapane and Pudaluoya towns as requested by the people for a long time.

Minister C.B. Ratnayake, Governor of the Central Province Lalith U. Gamage, State Minister Jeevan Thondaman, MPs S.B. Dissanayake, Nimal Piyatissa, Rameshwara Marudapandi, Principal Adviser to the President Lalith Weeratunga, People’s representatives of the district, Secretaries to Ministries, Heads of Government Institutions and the Security Forces were present at the “Discussion with the Village” programme held at Yombuweltenna.