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Sunday, 6 April 2003  
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Minister launches rural electrification scheme

By E. Weerapperuma

Power and Energy Minister Karu Jayasuriya who launched a Rural Electrification Scheme in the Batticaloa district on March 31, was the first Minister to tour several LTTE held areas and was warmly received by the LTTE high Command in Batticaloa district. He was in the district on the invitation extended by former UNP MP Alisahir Moulana.

The Minister was accompanied by his Ministerial colleagues Health, Nutrition and Social Welfare Minister P. Dayaratne who is also the UNF Member for the Amapara district and Tourism Minister Gamini Lokuge. The TULF MPs Joseph Pararajsinham and Krishnapillai joined the Ministerial tour. Port, Shipping and Eastern Province Rehabilitation and Muslim Affairs Minister Rauff Hakeem later joined the Ministers at a discussion held at the Batticaloa Kachcheri chaired by District Secretary P. Monagaruswamy.

Minister Jayasuriya launched three Rural Electrification schemes in Karadiyan Aru, Ilupadichena and Pankudaweli areas controlled by the LTTE and inaugurated a grid constructed at Valachchena at a cost of Rs. 110 million. The grid close to the Valachchena Paper Mill had been delayed for 18 years. The three electrification schemes which were constructed at a cost of Rs. 135 million to the Government, will benefit over 50,000 families in the district.

In Karadiyan Aru, a LTTE stronghold, LTTE Special Commander Ramesh welcomed the Ministers to the LTTE camp close by but the media was refused entry. Later, commenting on his visit to the LTTE camp Minister Jayasuriya told the Sunday Observer, that he was accorded a very warm welcome. The reception accorded to Minister Jayasuriya by the LTTE was the first of its kind given to a government Minister visiting the area, former MP Alisahir Moulana said.

The LTTE Special Commander Ramesh in a welcome address to the Minister said that they decided to receive the Minister who, unlike other Ministers had come with something to give the people. He had also assured the Minister that the LTTE would never go back to war, and had requested the government to help improve the living condition of the people in the North and East and to continue with peace talks.

TULF MP Pararajasingham who accompanied the Minister on his tour said that the electrification project in this uncleared area was there for long years and the LTTE was taken up by the presence of the Minister and in appreciation of his work, they had decided to welcome him. "When the UNF came to power I approached the Minister seeking his help and I also got the security clearance by January 2002 to commence the work.

The work was started by Deputy Minister Sagala Ratnayke as the Minister was unable to visit the area at the time", he said.

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