All issues need to be solved within a framework of social justice and the government has made national reconciliation a priority, said President Maithripala Sirisena as he addressed the Plantation community hopeful for a better life under his leadership yesterday.
As the President addressed a public rally at the Norwood Sports Complex in Dickoya on the occasion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the hill country for the opening of Dickoya Base Hospital, he remarked that the Tamils of Indian Origin community had faced many challenges over the years, the main being that of citizenship.
“I am happy to say that you are all Sri Lankan citizens today,” the President said and explained that the issues of citizenship which was made political was never resolved completely, “Though former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike tried to find a long term solution through the Sirima-Shasthri agreement, it was not resolved. Governments thereafter also worked on it,”the President said.
“Those who live on the plantation do not have a right to own land and are provided with ‘line-houses,’ rent-free as long as a member of their family works in the plantation.
“Many live under poor living conditions and facilities,” President Sirisena said.
“When you are citizens, you need villages to live in. The people for a long time did not own land, the government thus plans to give plantation families with seven perches of land each and help them build houses”, promised Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe while also referring to the Indian Housing Scheme project which is working on providing housing to the Plantation Sector.
The government, he said was working on a program to improve science education, vocational training and to provide assistance to students from the plantation sector to enter university. He added that this would be in addition to the national programme of 13 years of compulsory schooling.
Referring to the grand gesture made by the Indian Government with the refurbishment of the Dickoya Base Hospital with 150 beds, a new maternity ward, operation theaters, an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and surgical wards, the Prime Minister stressed that,
“We have to reciprocate the warm relationship Prime Minister Modi shares with Sri Lanka”.
“I know the people here are very happy that Prime Minister Modi paid a visit to their area and opened a hospital which was a very generous gift,”reiterated the President and observed that the refurbishment he started in 2011 as the Minister of Health had come a long way.
“Never did I think that I would be President when this Hospital would be re-opened and neither did I think that the Indian Prime Minister himself would come for its opening, said the President.
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Source URL: The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.