NPC must live up to its expectations
With yesterday's elections to the
Northern Provincial Council (NPC), Sri Lanka has set up its ninth
Provincial Council. Following the Supreme Court order to demerge the
Northern and the Eastern Provinces, two separate Provincial Councils had
been set up to replace the former North-Eastern Provincial Council which
was established way back in 1987 after the then J.R. Jayewardene-led
Government introduced the Provincial Council system in the country.
It is now up to the newly elected officials of the Northern
Provincial Council to develop the province and meet the aspirations of
the people in the Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Mannar
districts. If they fail to deliver the goods and address the people's
aspirations in the province, the people in the North would lose faith in
the Provincial Council system and seek the assistance of the Government
to develop the North.
Irrespective of the party elected to run the provincial
administration, the NPC will find it by no means an easy task to achieve
the Government's development feats.
After the Northern Province was liberated from the clutches of LTTE
terror, the Government accomplished unprecedented development in the
North which has set new world standards. No other country, devastated
due to terrorism or war, had developed a liberated area at such rapid
Infrastructure development, de-mining, resettlement and
livelihood-oriented programs have been successfully implemented in the
North in the shortest possible time. In a little over four years since
terrorism was eradicated, the Government has not only achieved all these
goals, but also ensured that the Northern and the Eastern Provinces
record an unprecedented growth rate of over 27 percent each.
Hence, it would be a daunting task for the TNA to practise what it
preaches. The former Tiger proxy party played the racist card to woo the
Northern voters and even went to the extent of presenting a separatist
agenda to win the hearts of LTTE sympathisers.
During their controversial election campaign, the TNA leaders openly
said that people in the North would take up arms to win their demands.
Nevertheless, it would be the TNA which would have to pay the supreme
price eventually, if they continue to go against the people's
aspirations and dance to the tune of the LTTE rump in the West. If the
TNA fails to develop the area and keep pace with the current mega
development work in the North, the people would teach the TNA a good
lesson for becoming a traitor.
Irrespective of the TNA's performance at yesterday's NPC elections,
people in the North still recall how the TNA turned a blind eye when
they were at the receiving end due to LTTE terrorism. Though the TNA
leaders are now shedding crocodile tears over the Tamils in the
province, the Northerners have not forgotten the treatment meted out by
the LTTE when the hapless civilians were forcibly held as a human shield
by the Tigers.
As far as the massive development in the North is concerned, nobody
could dispute the role played by Economic Development Minister Basil
Rajapaksa under the Northern Spring program. On the direction of
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Minister of Economic Development spared
no pains to develop the province in next to no time to usher in a new
lease of life for those liberated from the jaws of LTTE terror.
With Minister Basil Rajapaksa stepping down from the Northern Spring
program to pave the way for the NPC to take over, it will be the duty of
the Provincial Council administration there to continue the good work
and the standards set by the Minister.
The province which had been devastated by the LTTE through its terror
acts, could now boast of mega development projects. It goes without
saying that the Northern Province has the best teaching hospital with
seven base hospitals, 57 divisional hospitals and 102 curative medical
The North could also boast of a strong public health sector with over
600 nurses, 366 medical officers and 68 consultants in Government
hospitals and medical centres. This is undoubtedly a remarkable
achievement, compared to the other provinces as health facilities in the
Northern Province have improved vastly.
The government has provided all facilities, such as houses,
electricity, pure drinking water, sanitation, health, education,
irrigation and other infrastructure for the majority of people in the
North. The Government has also recorded outstanding progress in
providing shelter for displaced people.
The government has already built 46,923 houses with the assistance of
the United Nations, Sri Lanka Army and other donor institutions. The
Indian government has agreed to build another 50,000 houses while 1,000
houses have already been completed. With the completion of the Indian
housing project, over 90 percent of the housing needs of the Northern
Province will be met.
Minister Basil Rajapaksa earned plaudits for the dynamic role he
played towards the success of the Uthuru Wasanthaya - the Northern
Spring. It is one of the most successful projects launched by the
Government on the direction of the President.
The Government faced many a challenge to ensure the people's security
in the North and the East, resettlement of displaced civilians,
rehabilitation of former LTTE cadres and developing the North and the
East after LTTE terrorism was eradicated in May 2006.
The Special Task Force appointed by the President to rebuild the
Northern Province under the guidance of Minister Rajapaksa had achieved
its cherished goals at the time the NPC was set up.
The Government also made a significant contribution in the education
sector in the North, spending millions of rupees to improve education
facilities. Of the 1,020 Northern schools that were destroyed by the
LTTE, the Government built 982 schools with 14,826 teachers for 255,106
With the democratic rights of the people in the North being restored
with the NPC elections yesterday, the Government has accomplished all
urgent needs in the province which has now been connected to the
national grid after 23 years. The electricity supply to the Kilinochchi
and Mullaitivu districts was non-existent in 2009. But today, over 50
percent of the population in the area has access to electricity.
The Northern rail track which was destroyed by Tiger terrorists has
been rebuilt and the popular Yal Devi train resumed its services from
last weekend. This would be a big boon for agriculture in the area and
the Northern farmers are now making a tangible contribution to the
Although over 85 percent of the people in the North depend on
agriculture, the total paddy production in 2009/10 was only 113,382
metric tons. Thanks to the Government's facilities, it increased to
225,720 metric tons in the 2012/13 Maha season.
The resumption of fishing in the Northern and the Eastern coast was a
fillip to the economy as the purchasing power of the people in the two
provinces had increased considerably.
It won't be an easy task for anybody to match the successful Northern
Spring program accomplished by the Government at a staggering cost of
USD 3,000 billion, with preferential treatment for the Northern
Hence, the people in the North would closely monitor the conduct of
the newly elected NPC members, especially the TNA representatives. They
could no more play the racist or separatist card to hoodwink the
Northern voters. At the same time, the TNA should not anticipate
anything outside the mandate of the Provincial Council Act to disrupt
the hard-earned peace.
The LTTE leadership took the Tamils for a good ride and as a result,
the entire nation suffered the scourge of terrorism for almost three
decades. Power-hungry TNA politicians are now trying to give a
democratic face to the LTTE's separatist agenda. What the LTTE failed to
achieve with the bullet will not be given to the TNA through the ballot.
The TNA is doing its damnedest to capitalise on the war mentality
created among Tamil youth in the North and the East. It is an
unpardonable crime if Tamil politicians are attempting to exploit the
youth in the North to gain their petty political goals. The TNA should
bear in mind that the aspirations of the Tamil Diaspora in the West run
contrary to those of the ordinary Tamil citizens in the North.