Uniting the country, President's sincere
Construction work on the
Northern Expressway will begin next year, according to Highways Project
Minister, Nirmala Kotalawala.
The resumption of rail services between Colombo and Jaffna after 24
years and the Yal Devi express train wending its way to Jaffna with
President Mahinda Rajapaksa on board thrilled people in the North that
they could reach Colombo in a matter of hours.
The Northern Expressway from Enderamulla in Gampaha to Dambulla
constructed in four phases, would consist of four lanes initially.
Chinese and local contractors would jointly undertake the construction
work on the expressway projects to the North and Kandy and it is
estimated to cost around Rs. 300 billion.
The first phase of the 53km long highway will be up to Ambepussa.
The first 90km stretch of road will be awarded to local contractors
while the remaining will be managed by Chinese contractors. The initial
ground work such as identifying the road corridor and finalising the
road alignment with tentative acquisition boundaries, has been already
The proposed Enderamulla-Ambepussa stretch of road on the Northern
expressway will run parallel to the railway track, through paddy, marshy
and uncultivated land and affect only a microscopic number of houses.
Most stretches of the road on the highway would run on a higher
elevation on concrete pillars to minimise the environmental and social
The 38km-long second phase from Mirigama to Kurunegala will have
three interchanges at Nakalagamuwa, Dambokka and Kurunegala. The
distance of the third phase of the mega project, from Pothuhera to Kandy
is 52km with interchanges at Pothuhera, Rambukkana, Galagedara,
Aladeniya, and Gannoruwa. The 60km stage four of the project from
Kurunegala to Dambulla comprises three interchanges at Melsiripura,
Galewela and Dambulla.
The initial Kandy Expressway project extended to cover the Northern,
North Central and the Eastern Provinces on a directive by the President
will be fully completed by 2020.
Land acquisition for the Northern Expressway project has already
begun and the current market value will be paid for the land acquired.
The President has directed that compensation be paid for the lands as an
area of 6,819 acres would go for the expressway. Around 2, 750 families
and the owners of 1,234 houses would be adequately compensated.
The construction of the Northern Expressway will open a new chapter
in Sri Lanka's history. It is not merely a highway that links Colombo
and Jaffna but will also strengthen the social and economic bonds
between the commercial capital and the Northern peninsula, winning the
hearts and minds of people of different ethnicities, religious
affiliations and social backgrounds.
It is heartening to behold the Northern Province, the former
battlefield of the world's most ruthless terrorist outfit, the LTTE,
getting top priority in the country's development drive. Having launched
numerous mega development projects in the area, President Rajapaksa had
even pledged water from the Mahaweli river for the people in the area to
fulfil a long-felt need with a permanent solution.
Such bold measures undoubtedly strengthen the bond between the Tamils
and the Sinhalese and would foster the age-old relations between the two
ethnic groups to live in peace and harmony along with the Muslims and
the Burghers. This land belongs to one and all to live together, sinking
Tamil United National Front (TULF) leader V. Anandasangaree was among
the first to express his gratitude to President Rajapaksa for returning
the pawned jewellery at LTTE 'banks' to its rightful owners, sans the
capital and interest on the borrowings.
Last Sunday, President Rajapaksa symbolically inaugurated the return
of the gold jewellery to 25 owners in Killinochchi. The Security Forces
had identified 2,377 legitimate claimants to hand over a considerable
stock of gold and jewellery found in the final battle against the LTTE.
Though disgruntled Opposition politicians spread concocted stories
about the gold jewellery recovered from LTTE-held areas, the Security
Forces had conducted themselves in an exemplary manner and the
Government had shown its transparency by making a concerted effort to
locate the original owners.
This amply proves the Government's desire to return everything that
was lost due to terrorism, save human lives. The mega development
projects such as the Northern Expressway bears out the President's
sincere efforts to usher in a better future for the people in the North.
These people had suffered the most due to three decades of LTTE
terror. They had been subjected to untold misery by the self-same group
which tried to project themselves as the saviours of Tamils.
It is baffling that the TNA, which did not utter a word of comfort
when people in the North were at the receiving end of LTTE terrorism,
are now attempting to shed crocodile tears for the people in the North.
After the Security Forces vanquished the LTTE leadership, the TNA
leaders made a desperate effort to project themselves as the sole
representatives of the Tamils.
The so-called sole representatives of the Tamils, who still yearn for
a separate state, had done precious little for their own community. The
TNA took control of the Northern Provincial Council with a myriad
promises and the Northerners too felt that 'their own people' would
definitely do something more than the representatives of established
national political parties. Accordingly, the TNA won the NPC elections
and C.V. Wigneswaran was appointed Chief Minister.
Many in the North were under a delusion that Wigneswaran would
transform Jaffna into the best city. But lo and behold, his
administration of the Northern Provincial Council fared miserably and he
even failed to use 90 percent of the funds allocated by the Government.
He hit the nadir and the Tamils in the North have now realised his true
The TNA not only failed to run the NPC administration properly but
also cut a sorry figure in all Local Government bodies they control in
the North and the East. Had it not been for the Government's tremendous
volume of development work, the people in the North would have been in
It is pertinent to question whether the TNA politicians who spread
racism merely to capture power at any cost, who failed to properly
administer even a Local Government body aspire to become the rulers of a
so-called dream separate state. People in the North could no longer be
fooled and the TNA could not play the racist card because people in the
North and the East have now realised the bitter truth.
President Rajapaksa has won the hearts and minds of people in the
North and it is only now that they have realised his sincerity. He
treats people both in the North and the South alike and is undoubtedly
the undisputed leader in the land. He is determined to provide a fair
deal for one and all and a peaceful atmosphere for all Sri Lankans to
achieve their cherished goals.
It is time the TNA leaders abandon their separatist and racist agenda
and unite the communities under the lion flag. The President has even
pledged to abolish the Executive Presidency if the TNA does so.
This alone shows the President's sincerity in uniting the country and
strengthening national reconciliation. It is the bounden duty of all
Opposition politicians to give top priority to this goal rather than
seeking petty political mileage.