By Skandha Gunasekara
The Government presented the New Villages Development Authority for Plantation Region Bill in Parliament on Wednesday.
Presenting the Bill, Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development Minister PalanyThigambaram said that plantation sector communities have not been provided with even the most basic of facilities, and that it was high time the State took measures to rectify the situation.“Successive Governments have failed to resolve the hardships faced by the upcountry plantation sector community. In 1997, the then-President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga set up a Ministry to address the issues faced by the plantation sector communities in the hill country, but that Ministry was soon absorbed into the Ministry of Housing. When the current Government came into power in 2015, a Ministry was set up once again, but as it was a new Ministry there wasn’t enough resources and manpower to carry out the necessary development activities. Therefore, this bill is crucial to uplifting the lives of those living in these communities.”
He said the new authority would allow the State to directly be involved in providing assistance, such as infrastructure and roads. The Bill seeks to establish the New Villages Development Authority for the Plantation Region, which would develop new villages in the plantation region, as well as infrastructure development.
According to the Bill, the objectives of the Authority shall be to: “ensure inclusion of the plantation community in the designated areas into the social mainstream by socio, economic, cultural and infrastructure development in the plantation region; and empower the plantation community in the designated areas socially and economically, in order to enable them to contribute to the national development process.”