Batticaloa farmers appeal to President

Place: Batticaloa | Courtesy: TamilNet
| Date: 19990527

The Batticaloa District Farmers' Association has appealed to the Sri Lankan President to lift the ban preventing implementation of development work in areas of the district not controlled by government security forces.

Clearance for the agricultural development project, DEBRA, funded by the Norwegian aid agency, NORAD, has only been granted for areas controlled by the Sri Lankan military.

A delegation from the Batticaloa District Farmers' Association handed the Government Agent, Mr.A.K.Pathmanathan, a memorandum this morning in this regard.

The Farmer's Association had planned a procession from Kalviankadu, a village 2 km. from the town, to the Kacheri where they would give the Government Agent the memorandum but were refused permission by the police. Therefore a delegation of about fifty members represented the association and handed over the memorandum.

Excerpts from the memorandum state:

"We understand that Her Excellency has directed the NORAD program to be implemented only in areas controlled by the security forces, due to an instigation by an outside force by giving a wrong picture of the whole episode.

We are sure that Her Excellency has been misdirected by false propaganda-mooted for the purpose of sabotaging the rehabilitation and development activities that are taking place in the district.

It is the duty of the farmers and the people of the Batticaloa district to present the correct picture to Her Excellency so that she will be able to take her own decision without any bias and allow the NORAD program to be implemented in the entire district.

Batticaloa is an agricultural district. Thirty percent of the people are farmers. Fifty six thousand seven hundred and sixty five hectares of land are used for agricultural purposes. The paddy production alone in the district is 11,000 metric tonnes per annum, both seasons.

According to statistics, about forty percent of the district's population is living in the hinterlands which are considered to be not controlled by the security forces. About ninety percent of the district's resources are also in the western sector of the lagoon-thus all the productive resources are in areas not controlled by Sri Lanka security forces.

All major and minor irrigation tanks are in areas not controlled by the security forces. Ninety percent of the village tanks are also found in areas not controlled by the security forces.

Therefore any productive rehabilitation has to be done in the areas not controlled by the state forces if the agricultural sector is to be developed. Therefore it is ridiculous and meaningless if it is said that all rehabilitation work should be done in the areas controlled by the state forces.

Rehabilitation work is mandatory only in areas where damages have been caused due to violence. It has been established by statistical data that the most affected areas are those in the western sector of the lagoon in the district.

The coastal areas controlled by the state forces are not much affected compared to the western sector. Therefore, the government's decision to do work in areas controlled by the state forces is unfair and unjustifiable.

We are also aware that the NORAD has given its concurrence to do more work in areas not controlled by state forces as the ultimate objective of its program is to bring back the economy of the district to the pre-conflict level and to reconstruct the damaged infrastructure and rehabilitates the victims of violence by providing for their basic needs.

People are living in areas not controlled by the state forces. Schools are functioning. Public transport is permitted. All government departments and divisional secretariats are functioning. All programs are implemented with the permission of the state security forces. The access and mobility in these areas are allowed by the security forces.

Then why this restriction for implementing the NORAD's (DERBA) program in areas not controlled by the state forces? Rehabilitation and development is for the people in those areas and not to the deserted jungles. Her Excellency should feel the pulse of the people and pave the way for a better life."