by Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar
The administrative area of the Jaffna town is identified with the administrative area of the Jaffna Municipal Council. It’s origin could be traced to the Medieval Tamil Kingdoms of Jaffna which have been strong between the 13th century to the 16th century.
According to Professor K M de Silva in his book A history of Sri Lanka states that Jaffna under the Aryachakkravat’s was much the most powerful kingdom in the island.
When Portuguese succeeded in capturing the Jaffna Kingdom in 1619 Nallur was the capital. Due to the Tamil Opposition the Portuguese could not continue to have Nallur as their capital. As a result Filipe De Oliverira constructed the Fort and made it their capital because it was easier to defend and reinforce by sea. This area formed the nucleus of the present town later.
Further, the Portuguese rule survived for a period of 39 years and the Dutch succeeded in ousting the Portuguese in 1658. It would appear that the small Portuguese town around the Fort area was improved by the Dutch and was bounded on the North by Chapel Street, West by the Esplanade, South by the Beach Road and East by 3rd Cross Street. Indeed, it is interesting to note that prior to the construction of the Jaffna Public Library Chapel Street originated just opposite the Munneswaram Temple at Kankesanthurai Road and the whole stretch up to the 3rd Cross Street was visible from the Jaffna Fort.
The Dutch had developed this town area both as an administrative and commercial centre. The commercial activities were conducted at the area called Parangitheru. It was also the residential area of the Dutch. It is interesting to note that upto the mid 1950s this area which was known as the Main Street area retained its importance with many commercial organizations functioning successfully.
Yogeswary Patkunarajah who is the 25th Mayor of Jaffna is a great visionary and a woman of action who has embarked on a set of plan to improve the city of Jaffna. Considering the unstinted support she has received from the present government under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa the people of Jaffna are highly confident that Yogeswary Patkunarajah will be able to make greater contribution for the much needed development of the City of Jaffna.
In fact, the support and the assistance of the government is indeed vital for the operations of the Municipal Council of Jaffna and the rapport which Mrs Yogeswary has with the present government will enable her to acquire the best potential for the Municipality in town improving the living conditions of the residents of the City of Jaffna.
Indeed, Yogeswary Patkunarajah is one of the most remarkable Mayoresses of Jaffna who is discharging her responsibilities with unsurpassed distinction and unsullied honour. Blessed with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy, bubbling enthusiasm, inspiring leadership, quickness of thought, unyielding determination, dedication, devotion, high degree of discipline and profound commitment, she is considered to be as an eminent Municipal Mayoress. In every respect she is a Himalayan personality, lofty, serene and withstanding storms and blizzards with total and natural equanimity. Further, no field of human endeavour is left untouched by the swaying amplitude of her imagination, thought and action.
Yogeswari Patkunarajah’s greatness is unique. She always maintains qualities like simplicity, humility and humanity and willing to seek out and accept solutions. In fact, the Jaffna Municipal Council which is one of the oldest Local Government bodies in Sri Lanka had been defunct for more than three decades.
Three Mayors namely Alfred Duraiappah, Sarojini Yogeswaran and K Sivapalan were assassinated by the LTTE. But Mrs Yogeswarary is now determined to rebuild the city of Jaffna and the entire Northern Province to regain their former pristine glory. Mrs Yogeswari as new Mayor of Jaffna, we are certain that she will rebuild the city of Jaffna which was known to be a clean and highly cultural city in the past.
Due to the three decades of war a large number of heritage sites including the Dutch Fort, schools, hospitals, business establishments, houses, streets and places of worship were damaged. As such, her main priorities are to build the old Jaffna Municipal Council to its pristine old structure along with giving a facelift to the Jaffna Market Complex and reconstructing the damaged canals and drainage system.
Further, she is of the view that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is a great and true leader with vision, mission and foresight and tremendous statesmanship. Indeed, he rises above narrow parochialism, regionalism, sectarianism and definitely he will create a new era in Jaffna. In this instance we have to appreciate the tremendous effort and pragmatic and practical approach the Minister of Social Services Douglas Devananda takes to make the people of Jaffna to lead a peaceful and comfortable life. Indeed, he should be highly commended for the role he plays to rebuild the North.
Undoubtedly, the Jaffna Municipal Council Mayoress Yogeswary Patkunarajah will pilot the affairs of the Council to the greatest satisfaction of the people of Jaffna to maintain its pristine glory. Indeed, she is a multi-faceted and multi-dimensional personality.