Our sister paper Sunday Times had carried an interesting news item in its July 29 issue about a record set by the Northern Provincial Council (NPC). The story said that the NPC had adopted 415 different resolutions during its five-year tenure that would end in two months, in October. The story further says that this works out to nearly seven resolutions a day on which sittings were held.
It is obvious that no other Provincial Council in the country has been so active in passing resolutions as the NPC has been. Sometimes it is doubtful whether any council has adopted so many resolutions from the day it was first instituted in 1988, consequent to the Indo-Lanka Accord.
One in the southern part of the country might be interested to know what actually these resolutions were and even some racially thinking person in the south might be envy of the Tamils of the Northern Province presuming that the north might have achieved a higher level of economic development within five years than what the other provinces have for the last 30 years.
Nevertheless, the Sunday Times had also revealed that the resolutions adopted by the NPC were issues that do not come within the purview of the NPC. It cited NPC resolutions to convert the Palali Airport to an international airport and the one to place issues arising from the military defeat of the LTTE before the International Criminal Court in the Hague, as examples.
We also can recall some other similar resolutions adopted by the NPC forgetting its duty towards its people who had borne the brunt of the thirty-year-long war. For instance, four months into its election the NPC headed by its Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran, who is also a respected former Supreme Court Judge, passed a resolution in February 2014 calling for an international probe into the alleged violations of Human Rights and international humanitarian law during the last lap of the war. The story in the Sunday Times points out how the NPC wasted its precious time on trivial and sometimes unnecessary resolutions.
One such resolution urged all institutions coming under it to display in their offices the portrait of Chief Minister Wigneswaran, while another which had been rejected by the council Chairman C.V.K. Sivagnanam sought to impose a ban on lighting crackers during funeral processions. It must be recalled that the NPC was instituted for the first time in September 2013, following international pressure on the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government to hold the elections for the council. Even the UNHRC resolution adopted in March that year called the Government to hold the election for the NPC. And also it has to be recollected that the Provincial Councils were initially meant for the Northern and the Eastern Provinces with a view to finding a lasting solution to the ethnic problem.
The J.R. Jayewardene Government created Provincial Councils in 1987 in the other seven provinces as well in order to minimize the opposition by the Sinhalese towards devolution of power to the Tamil dominated two provinces. Yet, it was the Provincial Councils in the Northern and the Eastern Provinces that had always been in turmoil until 2008 and the situation continued in the north even after that.
The NPC has now become a political forum rather than an administrative body that should look into the economic woes of the people, who are struggling to come out of destructions caused to their families and the society as a whole by the war. Besides the fighting with the Central Government over various issues, now the council was embroiled in a tussle over a Ministerial Post, which has already gone to the Supreme Court.
In a recent interview with the Daily Mirror Governor of the Northern Province, Reginald Cooray had pointed out how the NPC had over-politicised in such a manner, that it was more interested in political issues rather than the burning problems of the people.
Two months from now the NPC stands to be dissolved as its tenure expires in October. And the Government after the passage of the Provincial Councils Elections Amendment Act in a controversial manner last year created a mess in holding elections to the Provincial Councils. Hence, the NPC would come under the Governor after October.
It is time for the Northern people to take stock of the provincial administration before going for the next provincial election.