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Infrastructure for IDP welfare

Pioneering role of Construction Ministry

Here are extracts from an interview with Construction and Engineering Services Minister Rajitha Seneratne.

 Minister Rajitha Seneratne
Picture By Sudath Nishantha

Q: What is the latest situation in welfare villages?

A: I visited the IDP camps and spent five to six hours there. I toured all camps and talked to the IDPs. I went to both old welfare villages and newly set up centres. I also discussed with the doctors, health staff and other officials.

I spent a lot of time there and gathered a lot of information. I held discussions with the Armed Forces personnel to solve some of the problems. In one day, I sorted out a lot of problems that existed in IDP centres.

The welfare village in Zone 1 had no problems because the flow of IDPs was gradual. The Government had adequate time to provide all facilities. They have all the facilities such as pre-schools, vocational training centres, banks and hospitals and they prepare their own meals.

They do gardening. In the Zone 2 there are some problems because the centre was set up for 100,000 IDPs in one day. The latest centre set up for the IDPs also had some difficulties but now things have improved. The number of doctors has increased from 50 to 100. Also many other facilities have been improved.

Q: What are the responsibilities of your Ministry in rebuilding the North ?

A: The Ministry and the other departments coming under my supervision carry out constructions in the area. For example, housing was one of the main problems of the doctors serving in the welfare villages and I immediately made arrangements to build houses, toilets and showers for them.

The State Engineering Corporation, State Development and Construction Corporation (SD and CC) and the Building Department were the first to move to the North and commence building houses.

The Government wanted housing for two years and provided the material. We have already completed construction where lands were available.

We also undertook constructing buildings such as pharmacies and Sathosa outlets in the welfare villages. Now I have planned a meeting between the Government authorities and the institutions involved in construction to draw a proper plan to rebuild the North.

Q : What do you think about eradicating terrorism from Sri Lanka after 30 years ?

A : We have defeated terrorism militarily. The same way we defeated JVP terrorism in the South in 1990. But that does not mean that we have done everything. For example in Peru, terrorism was defeated. But again terrorism emerged in Peru. Therefore, we have to eradicate the reason for terrorism.

As Buddhists we all know that there is a reason behind everything. Prabhakaran used the Tamil cause for his own benefit. We have to provide a solution to the Tamil cause to eradicate terrorism forever. Now it is high time to treat the cause of the disease. That is why President Mahinda Rajapaksa is fully committed to permanent peace and talks about implementing the 13th Amendment.

Q : What are the local and foreign elements that still support terrorism and what could be their objectives? How is the Government going to tackle them ?

A : There were so many international factors involved with terrorism in the North, especially the INGOs.

They have worked with the terrorist organization and funded it in some way. But somehow the terrorists have used their funds and resources.

The international Tamil diaspora became so powerful because of the 1983 riots in Sri Lanka and they gained citizenship of those European countries. Tamil voice is a main factor in their political arena. They have won so many politicians. Now they are backing separatism.

The international community is being influenced by the Tamil diaspora. Not the entire Tamil Diaspora, only the extremists. The LTTE has brainwashed them very methodically during the past 30 years by including their cadres into the group and introduced them to the European society. This is how the key LTTE figures such as Lawrance and Yogi became international LTTE activists and started manipulating international opinion.

Such things had an adverse impact on the Government. But President Mahinda Rajapaksa had the courage to face them.

He also had a very clear vision on how to defeat terrorism. Therefore, this time we never made the mistake what President J. R.Jayewardene did in 1983 by severing relationship with India. But President Mahinda Rajapaksa maintained a very good relationship with India, did not bother about other countries, went ahead and crushed terrorism.

Here are extracts from an interview with Construction and Engineering Services Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne.

Q : Are you satisfied with the decision you took to support the Government along with the UNP – Democratic Group ? Do you want to go back to the UNP ?

Construction industry, a vital aspect in developing the war-torn North

A : Yes, we are very much satisfied because we came mainly for one reason. That is to defeat terrorism in this country once and for all and to support the President and the Government. We did it. In 2007, there was a major conspiracy to topple the Government and the JVP was teaming up with the UNP for that.

We, 17 persons stood firm and saved the Government. With that 17, the Government only had a majority of four. Without our 17, the Government would have been defeated and terrorism could have continued. We took a very intelligent decision. We have rebuilt the country. Now you see what a good decision we took at that time.

There is no reason to go back to the UNP. Now it is high time to unite, work together and build our motherland.

Q : What is the duty of the UNP at this juncture?

A : At the moment, the UNP has no duty towards the country. They did not do anything during the whole episode. They had no role because they were only gunning at the Government along with the LTTE and they were completely identified with the LTTE. Even, now they have no role.

Now you can see the fate of the UNP. They are considering whether to contest the Presidential Election. They are bankrupt. They do not know where they are. They are at a real stalemate. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership does not have future or a vision. The UNP does not know where they are heading for.

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