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‘Victory in LG bodies ensures expedited completion of development projects’

The government is confident of winning the rest of the LG bodies just as it won previous LG bodies. UPFA candidates will win and it will pave the way for expedited completion of the development programmes, said, Environment Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa during an interview with the Daily News

Q: What are the latest developments with regard to the Darusman Report?

A: This is a one-sided report which is prepared based on information given by a third party and other interested parties which have links with the LTTE and have ulterior motives. As a government, Sri Lanka categorically denied the Darusman Report. The government has appointed a commission called the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and anybody can give evidence before it. Sri Lanka is a part of the UN and a member state. It has guidelines and a Charter. The report is against this Charter. Therefore, the Sri Lankan government denied it.


Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa

Q: What are the developments with regard to the Channel 4 video?

A: The propaganda machine of LTTE supporters have now come forward with the Channel 4 video targeting our armed forces. The video contains fabricated and baseless footages and claims that they were from the last days of the humanitarian operation. The video contains created footage. The government and armed forces have rescued over 300,000 people from the clutches of the LTTE which kept them as hostages. Now they have been resettled in their places of origin and only a handful of them are to be resettled soon after the landmines removed. Officials from the Sri Lankan foreign mission in New York replied to the video in a public meeting. The Sri Lankan government challenged them to produce the originals of the video but they failed do so. This is not the first time that Channel 4 tried to tarnish the image of the Sri Lankan government and the armed forces. They did the same in an earlier occasion.

Q: What do you think about the proposed Parliament Select Committee to find a political solution for the ethnic issue?

A: Now nobody is there to threaten those who take part in discussions to find a political solution to the ethnic issue. Earlier the LTTE threatened those who took part in discussions and sabotaged everything. They were instrumental in sabotaging all types of committees, discussions, dialogues etc with regard to this topic. But now, everyone can take part in the proposed Parliament Select Committee without any fear.

Now the conflict is over and the negotiation stage has come. Earlier the LTTE sabotaged discussions and murdered prominent Tamil politicians such as Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam, A. Amirthalingam, K. Logeswaran, Sam Thambimuttu, etc. These politicians were trying to find a solution for the problem working with democratically elected governments in power at that time. But now the situation is different. There is nobody to threaten anybody now.

Q: What is the responsibility of the Opposition at this moment?

A: Now all parties can come together, discuss and find a lasting solution for the issue. All democratically elected political parties can take part in the discussion. Otherwise a solution proposed by one party could be rejected by another party because that is the nature of Sri Lankan politics.

The JVP oppose this proposed Parliament Select Committee because they do not want to find a solution and end the issue. But I hope responsible political parties such as the UNP, TNA etc would take part in the Committee and arrive at a lasting solution.

The Parliament Select Committee is the ideal way to find a lasting solution to the issue.

The responsibility of the Opposition at this juncture should be to support this process and not oppose it. The JVP opposed the humanitarian operation saying various things in Parliament and stated it will not be a success.

Now they talk about ‘disappeared persons’ and try to cultivate grievances further. It is good for them if the problem remains as it is because then they take political mileage. That is their nature. They always oppose, not support.

Q: What do you think about winning the remaining LG bodies?

A: The government is confident that it will win the rest of the LG bodies just as it won previous LG bodies during the Local Government Election. All are now preparing for the election. The people will be able to elect their next set of representatives to LG bodies. The main objective of the government is to provide all infrastructure facilities to all areas of the country. Jaffna, Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts had problems for a long time during the LTTE terror existed in those areas. But now the government is embarking on an accelerated development programme in those areas. UPFA candidates will win and it will pave the way for expedited completion of the development programmes. Participation of LG bodies is very important in development.

Q: Do you have a solution to the human-elephant conflict?

A: This is something that we have to discuss broadly. The human population as well as the elephant population has gone up. The people have now reached the areas where elephants roamed in the past. Now elephants and other wild animals do not have food because of Chena cultivations. We have to educate people on living with elephants. There are over 5,000 elephants in small jungle patches. We have to adopt a national policy on this issue. The government is trying its best to find a solution. Elephants are intelligent animals. They always try to re-claim lands.

Q: What are your thoughts on preserving the environment?

A: There are many concepts such as green environment, clean environment etc. These are not only local issues but also global issues. The government is doing its best to protect the environment. When comparing with other countries, Sri Lanka’s situation is much better with regard to the environment issue. We have to do extra work to have a better environment in the future too. Clean drinking water, waste management etc are the main issues. The ministry is doing its best. A rigorous waste management programme has commenced with the Local Government Ministry. Electronic waste management programme has also commenced. Now we are teaching schoolchildren how to preserve the environment. Last year we planted over 1.9 million trees within a few minutes.

Protecting the environment is a collective responsibility. The government, one person or institution cannot do it alone. We all have to think, get together and act together to protect the environment. That will help us all and our future generation. Compared to the past, now most people are aware of the situation and are trying to help.

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