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D. B. Welagedara :

Far-sighted democrat in Kurunegala

The 20th death anniversary of the late D.B. Welagedara will be commemorated by the people of Kurunegala today (22). The memory of the late Dingiri Bandara Welagedara remains green in the minds of thousands of constituents whom he served forever four decades as a Divisional Revenue Officer, Member of Parliament, Mayor and the Minister of Plan Implementation.

Welagedara was born in the hamlet of Panaliya, Polgahawela on October 31 in 1915 as the only one son of the late Banda Korale Mahatthaya.

He had his education at Ananda, Nalanda and St. Johnís (Jaffna) Colleges. Later he joined the Ceylon Law College where he passed the 1st and 2nd Year Exams with first class Honours. When the Divisional Revenue Officer (D.R.O) system was introduced he joined as a DRO along with his cousin the late M.D. Banda, giving up his legal studies.

D. B. Welagedara

He was the President of the DROsí Association. In 1952, he entered politics at the request of the people of Kurunegala.

As the elections were called suddenly, he had to resign from the Government service to contest the Parliamentary Elections for Kurunegala constituency, even losing his pension rights. He was elected with a resounding majority against the giant, the late H. Sri Nissanka.

As MP he named a school that he started in the name of his political rival H. Sri Nissanka showing he did not harbour any ill-will towards his political rivals. He continued in active politics till he passed away on April 22, 1989 while serving as the Governor of the North Central Province having reached the peak of his political career.

During his time, immense progress was made in promoting better education, health, transport and sports facilities to the innocent people of Kurunegala.

More than 225 rural electrification schemes were inaugurated and many villages benefited from conditioned roads, bus services and schools. The irrigation facilities were hugely improved during his time and the provision of water to the Sath Korale was one of his dreams.

Among the landmarks he completed are the old Kurunegala Central Bus Station, The Central Market, The Stadium, Open Air Theatre, Northern Bus Depot, the Telecommunication Tower on Ethugala and the road leading up to it and the Water Purification Unit.

The Ayurveda Hospital and later it was named as Welagedara Ayurveda Hospital in appreciation of his services. He saved many lands for post-development projects in Kurunegala city.

He devoted his life to religious, social, political activities earning a reputation for honesty, integrity, courage and capacity for hard work. Although some present politicians in Kurunegala forget his name from their minds, I personally believe that he is the political father of many political personalities in Kurunegala District.

With his passing, Sath Korale lost a valiant fighter and a fearless patriot, to his constituency, a loyal friend, a political father and an open-hearted democrat. Since his demise, the Welagedara Commemoration Committee has been performing charitable deeds in his memory for the last 20 years.

Whilst hoping that he be born amongst us again to serve his people we wish that his journey through Sansara be very short and may he attain the final bliss of Nibbana.

(The writer is an Ex-Member of Municipal Council, Kurunegala)

 

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