Develop villages in line with the city - Senior Minister Athauda
Plans are afoot to create awareness among villagers about new
development projects that are to be implemented at Divisional
Secretariat level. Officers of the Divisional Secretariat Division will
carry out awareness programs. Government officers will also provide the
necessary assistance, Senior Minister of Rural Affairs Athauda
Seneviratne said in an interview with the Sunday Observer.
The rural or village community is the backbone of a country's
economy. When compared with the population in the cities, a large number
of people live in villages. Villages should be developed in line with
the city or metropolitan area development. It is then that sustainable
development goals can be achieved, he said .
The close link he had with the village community since his school
days had influenced him to be a social service activist.
Even during my school days I formed a Rural Development Society and I
was appointed as the assistant secretary of the society. An older person
was appointed as the secretary. We carried out rural development work
including the construction of culverts and roads", the Senior Minister
"We also encouraged villagers to cultivate vegetables and fruits.
Attention was paid to improve the economy by cultivating saffron,
turmeric and pepper. Steps were also taken to market the products at a
reasonable price",he said.
Economic growth was the key while health sector development and moral
development was also given equal importance. Moral development is the
only means to make one perfect and prevents a person from committing
sins, the Minister said.
Q: Can you elaborate about your youth-hood?
A: Earlier there were only a handful of Grama Niladari
Divisions (Wasama) in a district. Government servants gathered in a
Division to identify the people's problems and to address them. Now a
Grama Niladari Division is divided into four or five Divisions. Those
days a Wasama consisted of an electorate.
As a youth I extended my support in constructing culverts and
developing village roads. I succeeded in setting up Dhamma schools in
the temples. I have also taught in the Dhamma schools in the early days.
Colombo YMBA was the in charge of printing Dhamma Schools text books
and holding Dhamma school test.
After 1956 Dhamma schools were brought under the Cultural Affairs
Department. Thereafter Cultural Affairs Department possessed the the
authority of printing text books for Dhamma schools and holding Dhamma
There was a society called "Samastha Lanka Mahila Samithi Sanvidanaya".
This society took steps to start small handicraft industries in the
I also worked with this society. I have worked with social service
activists for the sake of people.
Those days hand-loom industry was initiated in villages. I was
elected as the Chief Minister of Sabaragamuwa Province in 1998. I
started a mechanism under my supervision to set up a Gam Sabhas for all
Grama Niladari Divisions.
I hoped to implement Shramadana and cultural programs in the village
level. And also to implement development works.
I did Sucharitha service coordinating with the temple. Starting
Dhamma schools, motivating the people to observe sill and doing cultural
I took steps to improve sports activities in the province art and
culture and sports as well. When youth engage in sports he would work
tirelessly for the development of the region. A peaceful situation and a
society which respect others views will emerge. I laid the foundation
for these programs through the Gam Sabha.
I took steps to appoint one doctor for each Divisions in the
district. The next challenge we faced was to overcome health issues of
the people a.
I got the approval from the Health Ministry and the World Health
Organization to implement health care programs in the Kegalle district.
Under this program Kegalle district received 45 doctors.
This is a pilot project.
I appointed graduates to 10 Grama Wasamas to monitor and supervise
the ongoing development works in the Kegalle district and to organize
the Grama Sabas.
I took steps to start pre-schools in villages. The rural development
work which I initiated in the village level did it after I was elected
as the chief minister I continued without interruption. Now I am holding
the senior ministerial portfolio. Now I have paid attention towards
developing this sector.
I have been given a Ministerial portfolio which ease my journey.
Steps have been taken to implement projects coordinating with
Agriculture, Export Crop, Small Industries and Religious Affairs
Q: The Development of country begins at village level and only
when they are encouraged the country will achieve its sustainable goal.
Do you agree?
A: them majority of people in this country live in villages.
Most of them depend on agriculture. The population in the cities are
comparatively low. Priority should be given to rural development in the
development process of the country.
The livelihood and infrastructure facilities for rural community
should be developed.
Facilities required to develop the agriculture sector should be
improved. There are so many traditional industries which are operational
in the village level. They should be given assistance to get their
industries improved. The industries should be organized while arranging
loan facilities and other required assistance to those industrialists.
Marketplaces for their products should be developed.
These days I am closely working with the 'Divi Neguma' program which
was initiated by the Economic Development Ministry by absorbing the 'Gama
Neguma', 'Maga Neguma','Pura Neguma' programs which were initiated by
President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Now Rural Affairs Ministry concentrate on domestic or household
development. The Ministry plans to implement various programs for the
sake of rural community and develop the country via this mechanism.
The Ministry will implement door to door awareness programs to
motivate them towards development utilizing the resources which are
available in their possession.
There is enough labour resource at village level. They will be made
aware how to get maximum benefit from those resources. We also hope to
give them seeds, plants and fertiliser required for those crops under
the 'Divi Neguma' program. From time to time the farmers will be given
There is a conducive environment in the village to breed cattle in
villages. People run poultry farms, operate animal husbandry in
villages. Plans are afoot to start dairy provide dairy cows, chicks to
village farmers under the Divi Neguma Program.
Q: Can you outline the rural welfare projects or programs
which have already been implemented or are to be implemented?
A: The Central Government, Provincial Councils, Pradeshiya
Sabhas and Divisional Secretariat Offices are the implementing agencies
of development or livelihood development projects across the country.
Certain projects are funded by the Central Government and most of the
projects are funded Provincial Councils, Pradeshiya Sabhas and
Divisional Secretariat offices. Central Government is the main funding
agency of those projects.