Chandrahasan — pic by K Pitchumani courtesy of DBS Jeyaraj
I. Jaffna celebrates New Year with hopes for revitalisation by Chamikara Weerasinghe in Daily News, 17-4-12
The people of Jaffna celebrated the Sinhala and Tamil New Year in peace with high hopes of revitalisation amid a multitude of development activities that are underway, after decades of war and years of unrest, Jaffna Government Agent Emelda Sukumar said yesterday. She said most of their hopes have been fulfilled and their confidence has been established because of the government’s ongoing development programmes.
“Water supply and sanitation projects have addressed problems of basic infrastructure needs since the completion of the resettlement programme. Most have electricity, drinking water and houses to live today,” she said. The Government Agent said: “ Even today, I have to participate in a development review meeting in the district.”
“There is so much development work. Our responsibilities have increased immensely over the past couple of years. I went to Maruthady Vinayar Kovil where people in Manikkai celebrated the New Year. They made transactions with the newly opened branches of leading banks in the area in accordance with New Year customs,” she said.
“Over the years, the people have built a good rapport with the members of the Security Forces. Security Commander Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe and many others had been invited to participate in the New Year celebrations,” she said.
II. Northern paddy lands produce record harvest by Amila Prabath Wanasinghe in Daily News, 17 April 2012
A record harvest has been reaped from paddy lands in the North during the Maha season, for the first time since the end to the war.Around 110,000 acres had been cultivated in the North with a harvest of 80,000 metric tonnes of paddy expected.
“The farmers have commenced gathering their harvest and the government is planning to purchase 10,000 metric tonnes of paddy from the North. Already 4,400 metric tonnes have been purchased from the North which is the biggest quantity since the ending of the war,” Paddy Marketing Board Manager, Anuradhapura, Bandula Kumara said. He said paddy purchases have already been made from seven centres in Mannar, Vavuniya, Killinochchi and Mullaithivu, adding that while paddy cultivation in Mannar during the last Maha season was confined to 23,000 acres, 40,000 acres were cultivated this time. The PMB purchased 5,000 kgs from each farmer in the Mannar district.
Paddy cultivation is being carried out extensively in Murunkan, Nanattan, Alkadiveli, Vedithalthivu and Rathankulam in the Mannar district. The government has so far purchased 1.7 million kgs of paddy from these areas known as the rice bowl of Mannar, he said.
During the time of LTTE terrorism, paddy cultivation was virtually abandoned in these areas where a tax of 50 cents was levied by the terrorists on farmers for each kilo of paddy and Re 1 per kilo on traders who came to purchase the paddy.
III. Indian MPs led by Sushma Swaraj on Lanka Visit … Zee news
New Delhi:A multi-party MPs delegation embarked on a six-day visit to Sri Lanka during which they will oversee developmental projects by India and handing over of houses in the areas worst affected by the decades-old civil war.
The delegation led by Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj left for Colombo Monday evening and will visit northern and eastern Sri Lanka, which bore the brunt of three decades of bloodshed, besides making a visit to central and southern parts of the island.
The MPs, five of whom are from Tamil Nadu where the Sri Lankan Tamils issue is emotive, will also hold talks with leaders of the Tamil National Alliance, which has emerged as a credible political force of the minority community, and the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress to get their views.
Two major political parties in Tamil Nadu — AIADMK and DMK — pulled out of the visit at the last minute.
During its visit to Mullaitivu, once the nerve-centre of LTTE’s military operations, the delegation will hand over medical equipment to hospitals, newly-built houses to beneficiaries and distribute bicycles to needy Tamils.
“The primary focus of the delegation will, however, be in the areas recovering from thirty years of conflict in the North and East of Sri Lanka where development assistance projects for the resettlement and rehabilitation of IDPs and reconstruction of areas affected by the conflict are being undertaken by India,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.
In a statement, the ministry said the delegation will start its programme in Northern Sri Lanka with a visit to the IDP Camp at Menik Farm. The MPs are scheduled to visit Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Jaffna, Kankesanthurai, Kalutara, Dickoya, Hatton and Batticaloa where Indian assistance projects are under implementation.
The delegation is also scheduled to meet a wide cross-section of parliamentarians, Pradesiya Sabha members, civil society and community leaders in the Northern Province, the statement said.