Need a National Holistic Development Plan to return Sri Lanka back to prosperity!

Small Industries need infrastructural support from authorities for sustainability!

Earlier, after the 30-year civil war that led to the displacement of large numbers of people that splintered community links, to reduce the population considerably in the two regions. When war was brought to finish in 2009, with many displaced returning from other regions of the country the population gradually increased again. With many political issues of the people not resolved, these conflict-affected regions were left with extensively damaged public infrastructure. In the past decade successive governments did undertake the huge task of restoring the damaged infrastructure at a heavy cost to the country, due to waste and corrupt activities going unchecked. Though the government delivered basic livelihoods needs for these communities that had repeatedly been displaced by the war; after ten years regrettably in spite of it nearly all residents in the regions have poor access to the labor market and economic opportunities.

Due to the civil-war, the Northern region of the country lost not only lives, but property and businesses and that pushed back the region by almost five decades and now the time is ripe to catch up with the rest of the regions. The Jaffna International Airport Development program at Palali is to take effect this year and cabinet approval has been granted to develop the Kankasanthurai Harbour with Indian government assistance. These two projects would add value to Jaffna as a destination for investment, while the Achchuveli Economic Zone was reactivated and four companies are in operation with almost nine acres of fully developed land available for investors. The zone has tremendous potential for more, as there is 65 acres idling land and there is an urgent need for the Regional Board of Investment to develop a program to woo investors to the region and government has plans to open it to international investors. The Eastern region situation is no better, it too has lot of catching up to do, a case that comes to mind is the neglected Valaichchenai National Paper Mill, that has not been functioning since 2014 putting over 2,000 employees out of jobs, the factory premises is today a shrub jungle, badly is in need of renovation. The government plans to reactivate the paper mill to its old glory, that would help create local employment an reduce import costs of much needed stationary items.

In addition, many villages in these regions are experiencing harsh weather and shortage of water has decreased habitable land areas that is a drawback to the people. To make environment clean and pollution free it would be necessary to restore barren lands to greenery to reduce heat and help recharge of ground water in many villages. It require collective efforts and hardships of the villagers, who otherwise be grappling with depleting groundwater levels, during harsh dry seasons. Yet, it has disturbed the harmony of the village life in these regions, for apart from water woes, life also became difficult because of strong winds in dry seasons that spread the heat from the barren land, as there was no green cover that could have obstructed the flow of hot and humid winds. Further soil erosion during rains pollute the ponds to affect farming activities, making it difficult to live in these villages that people are beginning to migrate to greener areas. Villagers realize that turning the land green could save them from the torment of inclement weather coupled with water shortage issues. But required extensive labour and funds for plantations. Unfortunately, the local authorities in these regions with limited capital investments for necessary infrastructure amidst rapid growth of the population. It may take decades than years to transform a barren land and its adjoining area, into an evergreen man-made forest, with authorities involved in nature conservation coming to their rescue and agree to do the plantation work to make it into a greener stretch of barren land with the community given the responsibility of maintaining and protecting the green cover. Thus a government-supported greening initiative trees of different varieties including fruits, medical herbs and timber wood could be planted in the barren stretch and the adjoining land. While deep trenches dug up in the land to store and stop wastage of rainwater to make the soil nutritious, with overflowing water stored in a nearby pond and used for farming and to recharge groundwater. These trenches would certainly help to store the rainwater and would be used for multiple purposes. Labour needs to be employed for plantation of trees and to cut deep trenches met by the local authorities, with villagers working voluntarily as it would be to their benefit alleviating the crisis.

In spite of a decade long post-conflict rebound activities a slow economic growth was brought about in North and East regions of Sri Lanka; but the people live in these two regions with all their war related issues still unresolved. While it impacts heavily on these people, the government is getting ready for the National Day celebrations next week and the opposition political parties prepare for the General Election due months later.  They are left to rebuild their life that was tattered by the war all by themselves and need all necessary infrastructures in place for sustainability of their income generation activities. Today many other regions are facing similar problems and if the country is to resolve them and return to prosperity, there is an urgent need for a National Development Plan for the country, to cover all development activities needed by regions and be executed without any political interference.