President Maithripala Sirisena today said whatever setbacks, whatever road blocks were thrown in its way, the consensual government would run its full term of five years to fulfil its pledges given in August 2015.
Addressing a massive public rally after placing the treasures and relics in the main dam of the ‘Kaluganga Reservoir’ President Sirisena went on to say that the challenges would not deter the UNP – SLFP led consensual government from its commitment to make Sri Lanka a fully developed, technology savvy country by 2020.
"It is only one and a half years to the consensual government and 19 months to my presidency. Our detractors are keen to topple the government and desperately trying to grab power. I must tell them that this government will run its full term and fulfil its development programme. We will also complete our mission to restore Sri Lanka’s former glory in the global arena,” President Sirisena stressed.
He said the Moragahakanda Multipurpose Development Project and taking Mahaweli water to Rajarata were in the political domain since the time of the State Council and Communist leader Dr. S.A.Wickramasinghe raised the necessity of the launching of the project in many occasions in the State Council and later in Parliament. But due to the lack of investment, the proposals were in the backburner for several decades.
“As a school boy who ploughed the paddy field with my father in Polonnaruwa, I have witnessed how farmers in Rajarata suffered due to insufficient water for their day to day lives and for cultivation. There were numerous clashes and even murders committed by farmers on fellow farmers and government officials as the distribution of water was a tricky issue. That is why I started my struggle to launch the Moragahakanda Multipurpose Development Project when I was appointed as the deputy minister of Irrigation in 1994’ President Sirisena stressed.
He said he visited the entire Rajarata forest range with respected Engineer Dr. A.N.S.Kulasinghe and the eminent professor showed him in detail the locations where water would be collected, released and bunds and reservoirs were to be constructed when the Moragahakanda project was launched.
Despite pledges by two Presidential winners in Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa in 1994 and 2005 respectively to launch the Moragahakanda development project it was continued to be a broken promise.
“Ultimately on my relentless pestering, President Rajapaksa consented to launch the Moragahakanda Multipurpose Development Project in 2007 without funds when I told him I would find money for the purpose. The stone laying ceremony was held on January 25, 2007 with much pomp and pageantry and I got much publicity. On January 28 I was removed from my portfolio of Mahaweli Development despite my vehement protests and anger and the much vital development project became once again only a day dream. Minister Bail Rajapaksa was adamant that I should not be given the Mahaweli Development portfolio even after President Rajapaksa showed some leniency on my protest. That is why I retained the Ministry of Mahaweli Development in addition to the Ministry of Defence as the Executive President,” President Sirisena added.
He said the Moragahakanda project was the dream of all Rajaparata people as it will resolve all the economic, social and health issues of the people in the North-Central East and North province. It will give the opportunity not cultivate three seasons and provide clean drinking water to one million families and water round the year to one million hectares.
The Moragahakanda reservoir and the entire development project will be the largest in the country and the last under the Mahaweli programme. The reservoir is six times of the water capacity of Parakrama Samudraya.
The Moragahakanda is the dream of the people in Rajarata that kept on bringing a smile to their faces instead of tear and sorrow. In two years we will realize this dream and out motherland is deemed to bless with many a benefit once this project is completed in the spheres of farmers’ income, heath, agriculture, food production and social development, he stressed.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says late President J.R,Jayewardene wanted to complete the Mahaweli development project in 10 years as opposed to protected 30 years and the task was given to late Gamini Dissanayaka.
‘However, there were few other projects left behind and Moragahakanda was lone of them. No government was able to start a development programme as there was the 30 year war and now this government has got an opportunity to attend to them and expedite the development in the country.
The consensual government’s development programme covers the entire 9 provinces and a number of highly ambitious projects have been lined up to develop the country in tourism, agriculture, IT, food production and exports, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said.
He added that it will be treachery and anti-national act if anyone attempts to sabotage this development drive because they have been launched not to fill the pockets of himself or of President Sirisena but pockets of the average citizen.
The welcome address was delivered by Deputy Mahaweli Development Minister Anuradha Jayaratne. (Sandun A Jayasekera reporting from Moragahakanda)