BY Mirudhula Thambiah
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, during his two-day observation tour to the Northern Province, visited the Mannar District yesterday (20) and discussed with State officials to establish a mega hydrogen project, improved water management system, and reforestation projects to mitigate the effects of global warming; inspected the renovation work carried out to revive the Mannar Dutch Fort for tourism; and engaged in discussions with the Nadukuda fishing village community looking into their issues by ensuring prompt action.
Northern Governor Jeevan Thiyagarajah who also visited with President Wickremesinghe told The Morning yesterday that the President is extremely keen on preserving the historical sites while bringing in development projects to the Mannar District.
“He is extremely keen on preserving the historical sites of Mannar, while he wants to develop the area. He visited the Dutch Fort area and wanted to revive it for tourism,” he added.
He also noted that President Wickremesinghe looked into the possibilities of the green hydrogen project.
“He looked into establishing a green hydrogen project, he is convinced that we have huge potential. Minister of Power Kanchana Wijesekara was also present,” he added.
Thiyagarajah said that the President also spoke with fishermen while looking at the old Talaimannar pier, adding that he wants that to be revived, and facilitate ferry transport between India and Sri Lanka.
“He spoke with some Local Government-elected members. There were discussions in Vavuniya looking at Mannar and Mullaitivu. He is looking at the takeoff of the region. He is looking forward to setting up a very modern outlook of the region,” he added.
Thiyagarajah noted that he wanted to look at the entire map of the Mannar District and he had given the Urban Development Authority (UDA) very specific advice. The UDA presented a plan and he went through all the plans while giving very specific advice on what he would like to be retained and what he would prefer changed.
Meanwhile, President Wickremesinghe also visited Nadukuda fishing village and engaged in a cordial discussion with the fishing community, and inquired about the issues they face.
President Wickremesinghe was briefed about the issues faced by the residents of the small fishing village of Nadukuda and he assured them that prompt action would be taken to provide the necessary solutions.
Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Douglas Devananda, Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekara, Northern Province Governor Thiagarajah, Minister of State for Urban Development and Housing Kader Masthan, Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake, and a group of Government officials accompanied the President.
Meanwhile, speaking to The Morning, Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) Leader MP Selvam Adaikkalanathan yesterday noted that the northern representatives were able to discuss serious issues with President Wickremesinghe during his visit to the North.
“We discussed Wildlife and Forest Department-related land issues during the meeting in Vavuniya on Saturday (19). President said he would appoint a committee to look into the release of lands. He said he would put up a committee each in five districts of the Northern Province to look into these matters. He also said that after the budget he would send ministers to look into matters such as education, agriculture, fertilisers, and issues of fishermen including kerosene price,” he added.
He also noted: “When the President spoke about a political solution I told him the solution should not only be based in the Northern Province, but in the Eastern Province as well. The discussion for a political solution should be based on both provinces,”
President Wickremesinghe said on Saturday (19) in Vavuniya during the Presidential Secretariat Northern Province Co-ordination Sub-Office opening, that he is ready to bring together all the people, Sinhala, Tamil, and Muslim in providing solutions to the Northern problem, adding that he wished for all the people of this country to live as children of one mother even by the 75th Independence anniversary.
He said that the people of the North as well as the South have been suffering for a long period of time due to various reasons, adding that steps would be taken to resolve their issues expeditiously.
“We must provide solutions to the problems caused by terrorism and the problems of the Northern people. Muslims too have questions about their rights in Sri Lankan society. The upcountry people also have various problems. There is a social opinion that all these problems should be solved. So this is the best time to solve all these problems. These issues must be systematically resolved. I intend to discuss these matters with the Sinhala, Tamil, and Muslim communities. I intend to provide solutions to resolve these issues without dividing the country,” he added.