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Sunday, 7 December 2014





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Paddy production up from 3 to 18 percent:

Batticaloa district makes headway

The Batticaloa district that has now turned out to be a much developed region virtually in all aspects of development on a par with many Southern regions, thanks to the multifarious development projects implemented under the Mahinda Chintana concept since 2009, also saw, in the recent months, the implementation of several special development-oriented programs inaugurated by ministers and deputy ministers in the spheres of education, IT, agriculture and livelihood.

Batticaloa District Secretary, Mrs. P.S.M. Charles, VIPs and senior ministry officials at a function to mark the completion of the Batticaloa city beautification project built at a cost of Rs. 90 mn.
Disbursement of livelihood assistance for families under the ‘Divineguma program'. Productivity Promotion Minister Basheer Segu Dawood, the District Secretary Planning Director of the Batticaloa Secretariat R. Neduncheliyan and senior ministry officials are in the picture.
The Meilankalkulam tank rehabilitated under the ‘Minor Irrigation Tanks Rehabilitation program'.

The front view of the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital.

 The Side view of Vincent Girls’ High School that was rehabilitated under the ‘Schools Rehabilitation/Reconstruction program'.

An IT laboratory set up in a school under the ‘Mahindodaya program’

These programs are in addition to the annual fund-allocations by the line ministries through the District Secretariat for the implementation of the regular development programs on promotion of infrastructure facilities, housing, agriculture, irrigation, tourism, health, fisheries, industries, livestock and livelihood, District Secretariat sources said.

Explaining on some of the recent allocations, Batticaloa District Secretary Mrs. P.S.M. Charles told the Sunday Observer that an amount of Rs. 1,000 mn has been allocated for the new secretariat building and the work on this project is expected to be completed soon. Rs. 460 mn has been allocated for providing relief assistance to the flood-affected families while Rs. 297 mn has been allocated for providing relief to the drought-affected families, she said.

Rs. 11.4 mn has been allocated for providing livelihood facilities to widowed women in the Kallady bridge area. An amount of Rs. 1,600 mn has been allocated by the Economic Development Ministry for the implementation of many programs, including the 'One Project for One Village", financial assistance to 30,000 families under the revival of the East program and other similar programs, she said.

Government stores and other facilities are to be extended for re-starting the garments factory that remained closed and about 3000 women will get employment opportunities under the program, she said.

The district has recorded the highest yield per hectare in paddy cultivation and marked progress has been reached in providing livelihood facilities, including housing, electricity, drinking water and educational support services, she said.

Last month, Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology, Praba Ganeshan, took part in a ceremony held at the Iyankerny Tamil Vidyalayam in Chenkalady to mark the provision of IT facilities to 16 schools in the Batticaloa district. Deputy Minister of Minor Export Crop Promotion Nishantha Muthuhettigama who was on a visit to the district in November made arrangements for the opening of branch offices of his ministry in Batticaloa and Ampara in an effort to promote the export of minor export crops, specially arecanut and betel, the reports said. The Deputy Minister said that although there are facilities to grow cadju plants in 36,000 acres in the district and,therefore, he would take steps to bring more land under cadju cultivation.

Higher Education Minister S.B.Dissanayake speaking at a function to mark the opening of the newly constructed hostel building said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is very much committed to higher education in respect of the Eastern students since it was one of the regions where education was disrupted for three long decades due to terrorist problems. The opening ceremony was presided over by Vice Chancellor of the University Dr. Kidnan Gobindarajah. While hailing the VC and the university staff for their relentless efforts to bring the university and the standard of education on par with some of the world universities, the Minister also gave an assurance that he would start the faculty of engineering in the university very soon, the reports said.

Deputy Minister of Resettlement Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan said at a function that in the budget the President had allocated Rs.800 mn for the purchase of seed paddy for the drought-affected farmers. He said it while speaking on the occasion of making payments of compensation to 200 drought-affected farmers, according to the reports. The function was presided over by the District Secretary.

The Deputy Minister also said that the Kithul and Urugamam tanks are to be combined at a cost of Rs. 4500 mn in January 2015. Rs. 65 million has already been provided under budget allocation for this purpose, he said. A total extent of 20,000 acres of paddy lands can be brought under cultivation under the project, he was quoted as saying. More than 360 tanks have already been rehabilitated in the district under the program to promote agriculture, he said, according to the reports. A post office building for Vakarai at a cost of Rs. 8.8 mn was opened by Postmaster General D.L.P.R. Abeyratne on November 11, the reports said.

GA Mrs. Charles explaining fund allocations for development-oriented projects for the district said that a staggering amount of Rs. 70,190 mn was allocated during the years 2008 - 2013 for development works in the sectors of infrastructure, agriculture, livestock, tourism and the fisheries industry.

With agriculture and fisheries being the mainstay of a large majority of the district's population and the government's focus on transforming the district as a popular tourist destination, the district is fast transforming as important hub of economic and livelihood activities, she said.

Under infrastructure development programs, rural roads to an extent of 4185.07 km are to be rehabilitated/reconstructed by the local government authorities and considerable progress has already been achieved, according to details provided by relevant sources of the Batticaloa District Secretariat. A total of 220 roads, including A Class Roads, B Class Roads and rural roads are to be constructed under the infrastructure development program and the work is in progress with a considerable percentage of the work already completed, the sources said.

The Manmunai Bridge that was ceremonially declared open by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on April 19 this year stands majestically across the Batticaloa lagoon connecting the Elavankarai and Paduwankarai regions that remained virtually separated for centuries, with access available from one region to the other only through the hazardous ferry service that was in existence for many decades.

Under these infrastructure development programs, many rural areas and villages which, prior to May 2009, had either no access or very limited access to the nearby townships and cities were connected and both state and private transport services are operating regularly, the sources said.

Paddy production and paddy land under cultivation during both the 'Maha' and 'Yala' seasons had progressively increased since 2009 due, mainly, to the fertiliser subsidy, agricultural equipment and other incentives provided by the Government, the sources said. The extent of paddy land in the 'Maha' season that was 50,807 ha in 2009 increased to 60,783 ha in 2013 while the production that was 1,47,278 mt in 2009 increased to 151,511 mt in 2013. In 2020 this is targeted to increase to 61,320 ha paddy land, 12,57,544 mt of paddy in the Maha season and 1,34,000 mt of paddy in the Yala season.

Considerable improvement has been achieved in the livestock development and dairy farming sector too, the sources said. All milk collecting centers have been reconstructed and milk chilling centers have been increased while hybrid milch cows have been distributed among the farmers in an effort to help them to increase their milk productivity.

Consequently milk production has increased from 12 percent to 30 percent while the income of the cattle-growers and dairy farmers have increased substantially while creating more employment opportunities, the sources said. Milk production that was 3.64 Mn liters in 2009 rose to 7.3 Mn Lit in 2013 and this is targeted to reach 9.67 Mn lit in 2020.

Vast improvements have been effected in the fisheries sector and in the lives of the fisher families under the far-reaching programs of the Government. The fish production that was 23,816 tonnes in 2009 increased to 45,980 tonnes in 2013 and the production is targeted to be increased to 75,000 tonnes in 2020, according to the secretariat sources.

The district's nation contribution on fish production that remained at 03 % in 2008 increased to 8.75 % in 2014. This is targeted to be increased to 9.85 % in 2020. Nearly 30 percent of the harvests of tuna, crab and shrimp are exported, the sources said.

The education sector has recorded marked improvements, with 175 schools already rehabilitated/re-constructed, 14 vocational centers established and 115 schools presently on improvement programs,benefiting over 30,000 among the student population, the sources said. IT education programs have been introduced to 45 rural schools in the district and 22 schools have been brought under the 'Mahindodaya Schools Program'. The teacher: student ratio as of now is 1:20 which is a significant achievement. The Eastern University which offers five degree courses is presently attended by 1892 students.

Health services to the people under the health sector are fully functional with the attendance of medical specialists, physicians, para medics, nurses and other medical staff in all hospitals - one teaching hospital, 04 base hospitals, 02 district hospitals, 15 divisional hospitals, 14 primary health-care units,one chest clinic and one psychiatric rehabilitation center.

Fourteen Medical Officers of Health (MOHs) are also functioning in the district.

Four private hospitals and 96 Gramodaya Health/Childcare centers are also operating , the sources said. Peripheral hospitals have been renovated/reconstructed ; more rural health centers have been established ; the the teaching hospital has been upgraded with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities and the faculty of medicine has been provided with hostel facilities, the sources said.

An "Urban And Rural Water Supply Scheme" has been implemented at a cost of Rs. 8300 mn. Water supply both for domestic and business/industrial requirements has been increased from 6 percent in 2008 to 52 percent in 2013 with more programs under implementation for fulfilling the total clean water requirement of the district, the sources said. More than 60 percent of the 1010 high-tension line requirement of the district has already been provided with programs under implementation to provide the entire requirement in the coming years. 2783 of the total 3583 low-tension-line requirement has already been provided with programs under way to fulfill the total requirement in the coming years, the sources said. Of the total requirement of 635 sub-stations (with transformers), 552 have already been established, 48 under installation and the remaining 35 will be installed soon. Of the 162,468 connections applied for , 123,188 have already been provided while connections on the 9280 are being provided. The balance requirement will be fulfilled soon, the sources said.

Under the Government's program to transform the district as a much-sought-after tourist destination , 20 tourist hotels with 1300 rooms have already been established while more hotels will be established in the near future, the sources said.

Beautification of towns and beaches combined with sea-plane services, preservation of world heritage sites, establishment of more number of tourist information centers and establishment of handicraft villages are some of the other measures that are being introduced for promoting tourism which will create more employment opportunities and also pave the way for the socio-economic uplift of the local communities, the sources said.

While the extent of paddy land that was brought under cultivation in 2009 'Yala' season was 15,637 ha, it increased to 19,970 in 2013 while the production increased to 99,750 mt from 59,227 mt in 2009. This is targeted to be increased to 26,800 Ha paddy land and 134,000 mt production in 2020.

While the district's contribution to national paddy production was only 3 percent in 2009, it increased to 18 percent in 2013, the sources said.

Facilities provided to the farmers including provision of quality agricultural inputs, assistance for land levelling and soil improvement, expanded extension services, advanced technology, enhanced storage facilities and arrangements for the prompt purchase of the paddy produces were also instrumental towards the increased paddy production, the sources said.



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