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Sunday, 19 July 2015

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Development agenda should continue - Sivalingam

The Ceylon Workers' Congress (CWC), the political party that had represented the upcountry plantation community intends contesting one of its most strategic electoral districts -the multi-member Nuwara Eliya District -on the UPFA ticket.

Muthu Sivalingam
                       sundayobserver.lk)

The CWC is fielding both party leader Arumugan Thondaman and party president Muthu Sivalingam in the district that had always been the field of the toughest electoral battles among all trade-union-based political parties of the plantation community.

The CWC has already started its vigorous campaign in Nuwara Eliya.

The party will also contest in three electoral districts -Kandy, Badulla and Kegalle - electorates with considerable concentrations of the Indian origin plantation community on its 'cockerel' symbol while contesting also two other electoral districts -Matale and Colombo - on the UPFA ticket.

The CWC has entered into an understanding with the UPFA mainly on the continuation of the many development projects that were launched by the UPFA government during its 10- year tenure under the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa , CWC President Muthu Sivalingam told the Sunday Observer.

Outstanding issues

There are many issues that the CWC intends addressing during the election campaign.

The CWC has reached an understanding with the UPFA to have the plantation community included in high level committees that are appointed by the government, such as the Constitution Council and Parliamentary Select Committees (PSCs) in commensurate with the 1.7 million population of the plantation community and the consideration of appointments to foreign service too under the same criteria, Sivalingam said.

An understanding was also reached on improving the educational sector through the appointment of teachers from among the educated youth of the community every year at the rate of 3000, until the teacher shortage in the plantation area schools are redressed, the starting of a university for the community in Nuwara Eliya and the establishment of a College of Education in Badulla, he added.

Although an understanding has been reached on these matters, the signing of a comprehensive MOU is still under consideration, Sivalingam said.

Several far-reaching development projects for the socio-economic welfare of the community were started by the UPFA Government after it came to power in 2004, which included the Mahinda Chintana-Idiri Dekma and were implemented in coordination with the CWC and other UPFA allies in the plantations.

Transformation

The 10-year National Action Plan (NAP) that was started with UN funding is a very crucial program for the uplift of the socio-economic conditions of the community and understanding on re-starting the program and continuing programs on infrastructure facilities for the plantation sector including roads, electricity and drinking water as well as housing projects to do away with the age-old line-room system have been reached.

The MOU to be signed will include these as well, Sivalingam said. In the current context of the plantation sector, transforming the estates as plantation villages, a program that was initiated under the UPFA Government, takes center stage.

"It is absolutely necessary that the plantations should be transformed as villages with schools, townships, road networks and other infrastructure.

The number of Grama Niladharis in the plantation sector is not commensurate with their population and this shortcoming also has to be redressed.

An understanding on this issue has also been reached with the UPFA," the CWC President said.

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