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Provincial Council Elections 2013

Provincial Council Elections 2013

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Published by Thavam

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Published by: Thavam on Sep 02, 2013
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By Nirmala Kanangara -In Putalam and Kurunegala districts Pictures by Lalith Perera
Monday, September 02, 2013
In therun up to the North Western (Wayamba) ProvincialCouncil elections next month, people in bothKurunegala and Puttalam districts are yet to showany interest in elections.This was clearly evident when travelling in bothdistricts last week.
Buying Water in Udappuwa and The gravel road leading to Digiliya
For them canvassing for a party or for a candidate is not an important feature in their lives asthey are battling hard to survive due to the sky rocketing cost of living.Unlike on previous occasions, hardly any decorations were seen in the province. Only blueflags were seen fluttering in some places but green and red flags were not seen in most of theareas but in very few places.“There was a time we supported political parties and their candidates. They were with us untilthe election is over and thereafter we were a forgotten lot. They get us to do illegal work for them and when we get caught to the legal authorities they turn a blind eye. Politics have become the dirtiest job in the country that show no mercy,” said a group of people in Chilaw.Meanwhile, those who support the opposition parties accused Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya of allowing the government to carry out development projects inWayamba which they claim to be an election gimmick.However, ruling party supporters claim otherwise. For them this is not an election gimmick butPresident Mahinda Rajapaksa’s development programmes aimed at converting this country tothe ‘Wonder of Asia’. Several development projects have been initiated targeting the upcomingelection and the Elections Commissioner has allowed these development projects to be carriedout despite calls from the opposition parties to stop them.Opposition candidates contesting elections accused the authorities of maintaining doublestandards and added that had there been an independent Elections Commission, the governmentwouldn’t have been allowed to violate election laws.Meanwhile, the Police in the two districts are also accused of supporting certain candidates asno action has been taken against those who have violated election laws. However people in
Puttalam and Kurunegala districts ‘sympathize’ with the police officers in the two districtssince they are helpless and are unable to carry out their duties.“Although we accuse the Police Department for their inaction, we sympathize with all policeofficers in Kurunegala and Puttalam districts. They have shown double standards in carryingout their election duties.They have removed propaganda material like banners, posters and cut-outs of some candidates.However, they have not removed any propaganda material of other party candidates,” said ahigh ranking government official in Puttalam on condition of anonymity.Meanwhile, opposition political parties accused the office of the Elections Commissioner for allowing the DeyataKirula programme to be continued in the province despite their strong objections.This is gross violation of election laws. No sooner nominations were closed, there was adirective from the Elections Commissioner to stop the Deyata Kirula work but within a coupleof days it was reverted. What justice can we expect if elections are rigged?” asked sources. —————————————————————— Puttalam Voter More Interested In Survival
Fishing in Kalpitiya with great difficulty
The Puttalam District seemed calm and quiet when The Sunday Leader visited the area lastweek.There were hardly any UNP or JVP banners, cut outs or posters seen from Chilaw onwards butthere many of UPFA candidates. The people did not seem interested in elections as they were battling hard to survive their day to day lives.Udappuwa in the Puttalam district is a hamlet where people are facing severe hardships.They have become a forgotten lot over the years and they assume that it is because they areTamils.Consisting of over 2,500 Tamil families and a few Muslimfamilies, Udappuwa has so far not seen the light of thegovernment’s development projects.Although the country’s main road network is under construction through the Maga Neguma programme, this smallhamlet which is 5km away from the main PuttalamChilaw A3 road, the roads that lead to Udappuwa and itssurrounding areas are still gravel and are impassable.There is no proper public transport system for the people.School children have walk more than 2-3 km to schoolcovering their faces with towels to escape from the
dust.“These days many vehicles ply on this road from morning till evening worshiping us toelect them to power. Soon after elections were called, backhoes and other machinery were brought to dig the side drains promising pipe-borne water. Certain houses by the road weredemolished to widen the road in order to carpet it. Once the election is over, these machinerieswill be taken back dashing our hopes of drinking water and a good road,” said Thahir.
More than a tarred road or any other development project, people in Udappuwa are badly inneed of a drinking water system. Earlier they have taken drinking water from small self-dug pits closer to the beach but had to abandon it later when the adjacent land was taken over for acemetery.These people have to pay money to buy drinking water. One pot of water is five rupees while amedium sized can of water cost them Rs.50. A barrel of water is Rs.150. Although they do nothave proper livelihoods, they still have to spend money for drinking water. According to them afamily of four need five to six pots of water – for drinking and cooking purposes.They have wash the vegetables and other cooking commodities with the salty water obtainedfrom wells closer to the lagoon.According to them, the two village schools – Andimunai Maha Vidyalayam and Udappu MahaVidyalayam have no proper teachers.“The students have to collect money and employ teachers. The Andimunai Rural Hospital doesnot have proper facilities. If a patient falls seriously ill, the hospital informs the family andrequests them to take the patient to Chilaw Hospital. So we have to hire a vehicle and take our  patients,” Thahir added.Meanwhile, fishermen in Kalpitiya accused the government of not taking any action against theIndian fishermen poaching in our seas.“We thoroughly refute the government claims of arresting Indian fishermen. This is misleading.The Navy arrests only a handful of boats out of a group of 50 to 75. Earlier the Indians fishedin our waters in Palk Straits, then the Gulf of Mannar and now in the seas off Kalpitiya. Thereare regular clashes between our fishermen and the Indian fishermen. Just because thegovernment does not want to have any issue with the Indian government, the authoritiesconcerned do not want to take any action against the illegal encroachments,” said a group of fishermen.According to them, the ruling party has blocked all avenues of their livelihood over the years inthe guise of ‘development’.“First we were not allowed to fish off Norochcholai when the power plant was under construction. Now as a chain of new hotels are coming up in Kalpitiya once again there arerestrictions for us.

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