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Sunday, 6 February 2011

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At Independence Day celebrations at Kataragama:

Hard decisions vital for better future - President


The cool breeze and the early morning drizzle that prevailed for a few minutes in the sacred city of Kataragama did not dampen the spirit of the 63rd National Independence Day celebrations on Friday.

This is the first time Sri Lanka's National Independence day ceremony was held in this holy city. It was President Mahinda Rajapaksa's idea to hold such a colourful ceremony in this rural area hundreds of miles away from Colombo.

To witness such a magnificent ceremony was a lifetime opportunity to thousands of people in Kataragama and in the surrounding areas.

President Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa arrived at the ceremony in a motorcade at 8.45 a.m. and it was followed by the Mounted Police. Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs W.D.J .Seneviratne received the President and the First Lady, followed by the arrival of several other distinguished invitees including Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, Uva Province Governor Nanda Mathew and Chief Justice Asoka de Silva.

President Rajapaksa hoisted the National Flag amidst the beating of magul bera and blowing of conch shells.

The National Anthem was sung by 100 schoolchildren while a group of school girls sang Jaya Mangala gathas and Devo Vassathu Kalena.

Cultural items including various upcountry and low- country dancing were presented by schoolchildren in Kataragama and surrounding areas.

Addressing the nation, President Rajapaksa recalled the

30-year-old conflict which made people in the country suffer untold hardships and said that only popular decisions cannot be taken to develop the country.

"Inconvenient and difficult decisions are also necessary to brighten the future of our children who will be tomorrow's leaders in the world," he said.

Massive development projects in the field of education and health care have already been carried out by the Government for the benefit of people, he said.

"In addition, we have commenced a countrywide road development network, irrigation projects such as Moragahakanda, Uma Oya, Deduru Oya, Weheragala and Rambukkan Oya, power stations at Norochcholai, Upper Kothmale and Kerawalapitiya, a port in Hambantota to uplift the standard of living of people, to reduce the cost-of-living and resolve the unemployment problem.

We have also set up "Nena Sala' centres to improve computer literacy of children and constructed international sports stadiums at Diyagama, Suriyawewa and Pallekale.

The President reiterated the prompt action he had taken to re-instate ownership of the national airline in our people and also introducing a new airline - 'Mihin Lanka'.

He recounted how he resettled hundreds of thousand of displaced people and also the construction of bridges such as Sangupitti, Kinniya, Manampitiya, Mannar and Kattugastota.

The President recalled, how King Dutugemunu commenced his journey to unite this Motherland with the blessings of the deity of Kataragama.

He said in addition, many of the successful freedom struggles in the country too commenced with the blessings from the sacred land of Kataragama.

"Therefore, I also wish continue this journey with all communities as well as all political parties in the country,".

Some of those who attended the Independence Day ceremony, thanked the Government for conducting this year's ceremony at Kataragama and said that to attend such a ceremony in the presence of the head of the State, the Cabinet of Ministers and foreign diplomats in their own village, was an opportunity of a life time for them and their children.

The 63rd National Independence Day ceremony was concluded with the march past presented by the members of three Security Forces, the Police and the Civil Security.

This was followed by cultural items presented by schoolchildren which included the Pantheru Wannama, Kavadi Narthanaya, Wes Narthanaya, Muhunu Narthanaya, Wedi Netuma, Deevara Narthanaya, Lee Keli and the Thuranga Wannama.

 

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