n a major step to consolidate national unity by taking the waters of the Mahaweli to the Northern and Eastern provinces also, President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday presided at a national ceremony, telecast live, to enshrine treasures and relics on the main dam of the ‘Kalu Ganga Reservoir’ of the ‘Moragahakanda-Kalu Ganga Multi-purpose Development Project’. The Rs. 61,321.7 million-mega development project, second only to the Victoria Dam, is expected to provide water for irrigation and drinking in seven districts. The Moragahakanda-Kalu Ganga project will also generate 25 MW of power, to meet a long felt need for domestic and industrial electricity in the North-Central, Northern and Eastern Provinces.
The foundation stone for the project had been laid by Mr. Sirisena in 2007 when he was the Minister of Agriculture. The President, in yet another hard-hitting speech, accused the former Rajapaksa regime of blocking this project largely because it would bring immense benefits to Mr. Sirisena’s beloved farmer community and others in the North Central Province. The President said he had then been able to obtain aid from Japan and China but the former regime for personal reasons damned this project till 2012 when Nimal Siripala de Silva was the Minister-in-charge. The President said if the former regime had acted in the national interest and not for the personal gain or glory of some VIPs, the project could have been completed by now instead of waiting till 2018 for the benefits to flow to millions of people.
The President’s latest direct onslaught on former President Rajapaksa, members of his family and those in the so-called Joint Opposition came during a week when Mr. Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe decided that the two major parties would extend their memorandum of understanding from two years to the full term of five years. This came after the so-called ruling tribunal -- the President, the Prime Minister and former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumarathunga held a summit conference amid warnings by Joint Opposition leaders that their Kandy-Colombo march from Wednesday was intended to shake if not topple the national government.
Last Thursday Mr. Wickremesinghe officially told Parliament that the two major parties -- the United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party -- would work together for the full five years and no one could topple it in terms of the constitution because the National Government had more than a two-thirds majority. Mr. Wickremesinghe for the past few days has been hitting out hard at the Rajapaksas, as the President is doing. He said the main aim of the Joint Opposition, which he described as the group of Rajapaksa lackeys and rogues, was to prevent the government from taking tough legal action against the former regime’s leaders who had plundered the country’s resources or the people’s money amounting to a staggering US $ 20 billion.
The President and the Prime Minister said they had told investigators such as the Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to expedite probes on the alleged frauds and corruption cases against the Rajapaksa family members and their clique. The Attorney General’s Department has also been advised to expedite the filing of indictments in courts of law. Earlier there had been reports that government leaders had advised investigating agencies and the AG’s department that they should not file indictments until they were 200% sure of the evidence. But now, in the wake of the government’s concern over what the Kandy-Colombo march organisers are planning to do the probes are to be expedited.
The former President’s brother Basil Rajapaksa who was reportedly planning to set-up a new political party and lead the march, was arrested and remanded last Monday on multi million rupee corruption charges relating to properties he bought in Matara and Malwana. Basil Rajapaksa has been remanded till August 1 and many analysts are asking how the person who was to lead the Kandy-Colombo march got a medical certificate to be moved to the Merchant’s ward of the National Hospital. Most civic action groups are asking how the former regime’s leaders get special privileges when they were remanded and whether the rule of law was not being applied equally to all. We hope the five-year agreement between the two major parties will help stabilise the economy and the rule of law with tough legal action being taken against any and all who have committed the crime of plundering the wealth of Sri Lanka’s people.