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Southern development plan by March: PM

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A plan to develop the Southern province is to be launched in March, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, which would look at sweeping industrialisation of the region. 

Development of the South was discussed during a special meeting at Temple Trees yesterday, with Ruhuna and Hambantota earmarked to create an investment zone to rival those in the Western Province. Export zones are expected to be established in Galle and Matara with several large tourism zones of about 500 acres also to be set up by the Government. 

The Hambantota investment zone would connect the airport and harbour to create a self-sufficient investment zone with an LNG power plant and other facilities, Wickremesinghe had told the gathering. 

“Development in the south has so far been limited to the coastline but interior areas such as Himiduma, Deniyaya, Rakwana and Akuressa. So our plan is to modernise these areas and provide large scale development to improve the incomes of people living in these areas and increase their standards of life,” he said. 

Small tea holders will be given assistance under this program along with attention to replanting. The natural environment of Deniyaya and Rakwana will be protected through a large conservation zone that will also encourage tourism in the area, the Prime Minister assured. 

“Many of these programs have already started and we intend to continue them. Focus will also be paid to developing agriculture and there will be new programs for this sector as well. The development plan would be conducted jointly under the Southern Development and National Policies Ministries,” he added.

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