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Moneragala ready for Deyata Kirula

The Uva Wellassa region comprising Moneragala and Badulla districts is significant in local history. It is well-known as the place of the Buddha's first visit to the island thousands of years ago, to Mahiyangana. Under colonial rule it became known for its warriors as the 1818 rebellion was launched from the area.

Soon after this unsuccessful rebellion, the then rulers virtually destroyed the rich culture and livelyhood of the people.

For centuries Uva Wellassa was left to struggle on its own. Successive governments were keen to develop other areas, but gave step-motherly treatment to this province; so much so, that even in schools it was taught that Moneragala was one of the poorest districts in the country.

However, this sad trend has now changed. The steering wheel for this development is Deyata Kirula.

As Secretary of the Organising committee of Deyata Kirula, Udaya R. Gamage said, it is not just an exhibition, but it is a development process ushering in economic benefits to the entire region.

Never in the history of development in Sri Lanka has a sum of Rs. 20 billion been allocated for one district within six months. The Government did not want the stepmotherly treatment handed out by successive governments to Moneragala to continue.

The district with a population of 435,000 in 319 GS divisions has now received the much-needed infrastructure, thanks to the hosting of the exhibition.

Providing a solution for the human-elephant conflict was one of the priorities and steps are being taken to expand the electric fence which prevents elephants from entering villages.

One of the main problems facing the public was the inability to obtain identity card and birth and death certificates. A prompt solution was found for this problem through several mobile camps and over 11,000 new identity cards were issued along with birth and death certificates.

Special credit scheme


Pix: Sudam Gunasinghe

Providing self-employment and technical know-how in agriculture were also considered priorities during the lead-up to the Deyata Kirula exhibition. It was also decided to renovate over 60 mini reservoirs in the area.

With the support of State banks, special credit schemes were formulated giving a much-needed boost for youth engaged in self-employment. This was carried out under the Samurdhi movement.

In a bid to provide better living conditions, Rs. 200 million were given as soft loans to Government employees. Lack of ownership deeds was one of the burning problems the residents faced and to overcome this issue, over 20,000 deeds were given to the rightful owners of land.

Similar to the Hambantota district, drinking water was something far beyond the reach of the common man in the area.

Several solutions had been proposed over decades. However, only a few pipes had been fitted and that too on a haphazard manner.

However, in the six-month lead-up to Deyata Kirula, permanent solutions to this problem were initiated. The Buttala water supply project has now been completed and would provide drinking water for 5,000 families. This includes a water purification plant and four tanks with the capacity to store 80,000 litres of water.

The National Water Supply and Drainage Board has invested Rs. 140 million on this project and other mini water projects.

Carpet road network

The Moneragala district is to be brought even closer to Colombo with a carpet road network, minimising the travel time to the area.

Some of the key roads such as the Udawalawe Tanamalwila Road, Kataragama Badalkumbura stretch, Maligawila Road and the road to Buttala are now being relaid. The total stretch of road that has been reconstructed was 250 kilometres and was mainly coordinated by Chief Minister of Uva Province, Sashindra Rajapaksa.

The total budget allocation fOr the superior road network was Rs. 600 million.

Many roads leading to Moneragala have already being carpeted.

Rural electrification was another area that was focused during the Deyata Kirula exhibition. The aim of the Government is to increase the electrification penetration to villagers of the Moneragala district from the current 65 percent to 90 percent and the investment for this project was Rs. 1.4 billion.

A new 33,000 Volt line has been laid from Passara to Buttala.

Telephone density too has been increased mainly through CDMA connections.

Township development too was a priority under the six-month lead-up to the Deyata Kirula exhibition. The focus was on Buttala and the project was carried out. this was done with a budgetary allocation of Rs. 30 million.

A modern bus stand was built along with a shopping complex and the Divisional secretariat building too is now ready for occupation. Four new fuel filling stations too were built.

Beautifying the Buttala town too is now complete and a new look Buttala is now seen.

Health is wealth

All hospitals in the region too have undergone major refurbishment with Rs. 180 million being invested by the Peoples Bank to develop the Buttala hospital. The SRi Lanka Ports Authority has redeveloped the Kataragama hospital while the Bank of Ceylon was entrusted with the task of renovating the Wellawaya hospital. The State Engineering Corporation and Petroleum Corporation, in a joint effort, developed the Tanamalwila hospital. Stage Mortgage Bank has come forward to uplift the Badalkumbura hospital.

The base hospital in Moneragala is being converted to a four-storied complex with the Ministry allocating Rs. 400 million for the purpose.

The Ministry of Health has ensured that ample stocks of medicine are available at these hospitals while intensive care facilities too have been provided for them.

Electricity is now being provided for the proposed industrial estate which would be a boon for the investors.

Religious, sports facilities

The Uva Province's biggest Dhamma Hall has been built at Udaganawa and would be opened by the President on February 4. A sum of Rs. 30 million was allocated for this.

Sports development too was in focus with nearly Rs. 750 million being allocated.

Construction has commenced on a public swimming pool in Moneragala. This is a luxury that was beyond the reach of the people in the area. The pool is being built next to the Moneragala public playground. The ground is also to be developed and Rs. 48 million has been earmarked for the project. Volleyball, netball, a kabbadi tournament and a cycle race would be held during the exhibition and Rs. 10 million has been allocated for this.

People in the area are happy and content that Deyata Kirula, without being just another exhibition, would it help develop Uva Wellassa which had been cold-shouldered for centuries.

 

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