SB envisages much development for Nuwara Eliya | Sunday Observer

SB envisages much development for Nuwara Eliya

My aim is to introduce at least three more seasons to Nuwaraeliya, attracting wealthier tourists, said former Lands and Land Development State Minister and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Nuwaraeliya district candidate S B Dissanayake said in an interview. Following are ex cerpts from the interview.

Q. Some critics say that the Government did not take decisions at the correct time to control the Covid -19 pandemic, Do you agree?

A. We can’t agree with them as it is clear that Sri Lanka has successfully controlled the pandemic whereas most of the developed countries too have failed to do so. They refer to the Government not locking down the country.

But it was not simple as that as it affected the economy, income of the people, arrival of tourists and Sri Lankans living overseas.

My view is that the country took the decision on time so that the country’s Covid -19 combat program was commended by many foreign governments and organisations.

Q. The Opposition needed to reconvene the dissolved Parliament to take decisions on the Covid- 19 combat program but they were not heeded and why?

A. The Opposition never wanted the election to be held. During the last sittings of Parliament, the Government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa wanted to settle the bills of the contractors who did work during the UNP led Good Governance Government by way of a Supplementary Estimate as those contractors faced monetary difficulties.

Those contractors have to be paid around Rs 800 million. But they( the Opposition) attempted to disrupt the attempt which is hypocrisy. But if Ranil Wickramasinghe was the Opposition Leader, he would not have planned to disrupt such an attempt.

However at that point, the Tri Forces, health sector staff and public servants were doing a yeoman service to control the Covid - 19 pandemic.

The opposition just needed to fish in troubled waters and disrupt the Covid - 19 controlling program and get petty political advantage. They did need to summon arliament and it was not to support the COVID 19 Controlling Program.

Q. Amids the objections of the Opposition and a pandemic condition why does the Government attempt to hold a General Election? Does the Government fear that they would grow unpopular?

A. The Covid-19 pandemic broke out and our country was affected by it as we had planned to hold the General Election. Actually the Government has an urgent need to hold the election as the country is running without a budget and plans for this year. The World Bank and other foreign institutions hesitate to deal with such a country.

Therefore, we have got to hold an election and set up a stable government. However, the Opposition fear the election and they hesitated to hold elections while they were in power.

Q. The Opposition complains that the Government failed to grant the benefit of the oil price drop in the world market to the people in the country. Why doesn’t the Government do so?

A. The Government did many things with the profit during this difficult and hard period. However, only an oil price reduction in the local market would not pass the benefits to the needy.

At the moment the country faces an economic crisis. When former President Mahinda Rajapaksa handed over the Government to the Good Governance Government in 2015 the economic growth rate in the country was seven per cent which was one of the highest in the region.

But when they returned it, the economic growth rate had dropped to the lowest in the region due to the wrong economic mechanism,corruption and malpractices practised by them.

During the 52 - day government, P B Jayasundara, several other economic experts and myself examined to find the economy of the country was bankrupt. We estimated that at least Rs 5 billion should be released into the economy as everything had come to a standstill.

Q. You are contesting from Nuwara Eliya and not from Hanguranketha at the General election. What effect would it have on your result at the election?

A. I was asked to contest from Nuwara Eliya with new hope and great confidence.

I am a politician who has close and cordial connections with all Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim people and other communities.

The Nuwara Eliya people know my politics well.

I am a politician who gave employment to people in the estate sector, appointed Samurdhi Officers among them and directed qualified persons to schools via the Samurdhi Program when they were unable to be appointed as teachers. I did them all.

On the other hand I was born and educated in Nuwara Eliya. I was selected to university from Nuwara Eliya.I love my birth place. I know the problems and aspirations of the people in Nuwara Eliya. Hence it is far easier for me in Nuwara Eliya than Hanguranketha.

Q. Nuwara Eliya is a fabulous attraction for both local and foreign tourists. What are your future plans for Nuwara Eliya following your victory?

A. Nuwara Eliya is the most beautiful district in Sri Lanka: However, Nuwara Eliya has only one season for tourists.

But it has potential for three additional seasons for tourists of different social strata.

We can develop seasons for tourists by way of car and horse races, golf and flowers easily.

When I was the Sports Minister I commenced the construction of the horse race course in Nuwara Eliya and Mayor Mahinda Dodampe continued it. It is one of the best race courses located in global high altitudes.

There is a proposal to build a tank at Lovers’ Leap Estate with tracks around it to train athletes and sportsmen for high altitude training.

It would be one of the few best places for high altitude training in the world, which is compulsory to increase hemoglobin levels in blood to develop endurance in them. The tank can provide water to Nuwara Eliya too which is a burning problem.

When development proposals for Nuwara Eliya were called, Sangakkara submitted one for golf promotion which has plans to attract one million tourists a year. That is enough not only for Nuwara Eliy but for the entire country.

Despite all these features, Nuwara Eliya is less developed compared to Hanguranketha.

I developed Hanguranketha. Nuwara Eliya, Kothmale and Walapane have neither good hospitals nor schools and we have plans to construct them in the near future.

The burning issue for the people of Nuwara Eliya is water. One of the causes of this issue is the cultivation of turpentine trees on the recommendations of the so called experts.

We have to replace turpentine with local plants which would protect water sources and provide fruits for both animals and people.

On the other hand there are 350 tanks in Nuwara Eliya which are to be renovated. That is another cause of the water issue.

They were destroyed by the British rulers in the aftermath of the 1818 riot.

Q.How do you think the Opposition will face the election?

A. Now, there is nothing called the Opposition. The UNP is divided into factions. Some will contest from the elephant symbol and some others from the telephone symbol. Satjith would secure around 30 seats and Ranil 10.

The JVP would drop to one or two. This would be the gravest failure the Opposition would suffer. We would secure a landslide victory with a two-thirds majority easily.

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