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
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.
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)