The 16th “Discussion with the Village” program presided by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will be held in Kiriwelkele North, step 03 Grama Niladhari Division in the Pitabeddara Divisional Secretariat Division in the Matara District tomorrow(27). The discussion will commence at 10.00 am at Derangala Maha Vidyalaya. The People’s representatives including the Ministers and MPs of the District, Secretaries to Ministries, Heads of various institutions and officials will be participating in the public forum tomorrow.

This is the second Discussion with the Village program in the Southern province. Kiriwelkele Grama Niladhari Division, a highland colony established in 1958, is the most difficult village which falls within the limits of Pitabeddara Divisional Secretariat area. The total population of the Grama Niladhari Division is 2990 comprising 622 families. Most of the owners of small tea holdings in the Matara district live here. The main source of income is tea and cinnamon, rubber, black pepper and coconut.

People in Kiriwelkele and surrounding villages have long been suffering from a number of common issues. These include poor road conditions and transport difficulties, lack of health and sanitation facilities, lack of drinking and cultivating water, agricultural problems, shortage of houses and lack of communication facilities. There are also issues relating to educational sector, including inadequate school infrastructure and shortage of teachers. People also face a number of problems related to forest conservation regulations.

The ultimate goal of the “Discussion with the Village” programme is for the President to go grass roots, with the officials, to witness himself the difficulties suffered by fellow citizens first hand, in order to uplift the rural sector. Building a strong national economy based on agriculture is one of the key pledges made to the people by the National Policy Framework, “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”.

The rural folks, who constitute about 75% of the population of Sri Lanka, still suffer from a wide variety of problems including economic and social issues. Landlessness, absence of proper title deeds, shortage of water for drinking and cultivation purposes, underdeveloped status of roads and transport issues, health and education issues, the human-elephant conflict,  bureaucratic lethargy  are a few of them. The objective of the programme is to reach out to the people of the villages, understand their problems and find solutions through their own suggestions. Problems that can be solved on the spot are instantly addressed. The rest which take time to deal with are noted down to find solutions later.

President Rajapaksa is of the view that understanding the issues that affect the rural people from a one-sided perspective is one of the reasons for the delay in giving solutions for their issues. Officials see the problem from their own perspective while villagers according to their sentiments. The President believes that the process of providing solutions could be expedited through correctly identifying all aspects of the problem. This approach has been used in previous “Discussion with the Village” programmes to provide immediate and long term solutions to a number of issues.

The “Discussion with the Village” programme commenced on September 25, 2020 from Badulla District. Thereafter programmes were organized covering Matale, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura, Ampara, Polonnaruwa, Kalutara, Moneragala, Kegalle, Kandy, Puttalam, Trincomalee, Kurunegala, Galle and Nuwara Eliya districts.