Senior Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama this week highlighted a range of benefits the Kandy district received following the recent visit to Japan along with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
He said during the visit matters concerning economic, social, political and religious relations were discussed with Japanese leaders. Following are excerpts:
“For a long time Japan has been assisting in development projects in the Kandy district. They have financed such projects. Something special that I should mention is that Japan as a Buddhist country is eager to build close relations with Kandy, considered the pinnacle of Sri Lankan Buddhist culture and also with the Venerable Maha Nayakas.
We know already that in Kandy the Greater Kandy Water Supply Project is in operation. The first stage of that project is now over. Under that phase a barrage has been build across the Mahaweli, water pumped from there to a big reservoir built at Gohagoda, purified there with the addition of purification agents like chlorine and finally distributed to electorates like Harispattuwa, Pathadumbara and Galagedara. Now we are discussing the second stage of that project under which water will be supplied to certain other parts of Harispaththuwa, some more parts of Galagedara and to Mawathagama through Galagedara. That project is very important.
Japan will also finance a project to purify the waste water of Kandy. The waste water flowing down the Maha Meda Ela passing Deiyyanewela and Suduhumpola to Getambe will be purified after clearing up the Meda Ela. Earlier assistance was given to clean up the Kandy Lake, through the Irrigation Department. There are already on-going projects like that.
After our recent discussions several big projects for Kandy are now being initiated. The first among them is the Greater Kandy Project. Already a team from the Japanese organisation called JAICA is conducting an investigation in that connection. They will prepare a preliminary project report. A plan is now under preparation to provide facilities to the people, using entirely traditional Kandyan architecture. We have also plans for the Bogambara prison premises. That is a historic prison. Saradiel had been there. Our old left leaders had been there. That was a very famous prison. Anyway now the prison has in its entirety been shifted to Kundasale. The former prison premises comprise about 10 acres. Now it is possible to utilise that area for the development of the city.
Something that is most in demand in the city of Kandy is space. Therefore being able to free up about ten acres of land in the heart of the city is a big achievement. The city development will take place in three stages. We are trying our best to effect that development in a way that will ease matters for the residents of Kandy, the trading community of Kandy and the consumer community of Kandy. It will not take long before work starts. We intend to commence the first stage with the re-development of Bogambara, in about two months’ time. Thereafter will come Stage Two that will be more attractive and provide more public amenities and facilities related to the arts. We will be particularly adhering to the advice of the Venerable Maha Nayakas. They have always being telling us to try and obtain assistance from a Buddhist country and to work cordially with them. We are keeping the Venerable Mahanayakas informed of the present developments.
We have another project in view. There is this block of land stretching from the present Kachcheri premises up to the church. The Sinha Regiment is there at present. It is state land. I remember that at one time the building there was the official quarters of the Assistant Government Agent of Kandy. We intend to shift the Sinha Regiment to Kundasale or some other prominent locality and build there a vehicle park for all vehicles coming to Kandy. Then people coming to Kandy will be able to move about in the city on foot conveniently and walk to shops and boutiques.
Today in most cities around the world it is not permissible to park vehicles in the heart of the city. Our plan is therefore to provide convenient parking areas from where people can comfortably get about their business on foot. We will also provide for shopping areas in close proximity to such vehicle parks as a service to the consumer public and the trading community. The city centre can then be redeveloped with public convenience in mind.
We know that Kandy is a place which attracts a large number of tourists, both local and foreign. Something that we often discussed while in Japan is the desire among Japanese Buddhists to see the Kandy Perahera. At present they come in numbers like 20,000 or 25,000. We thought that we can easily increase that to 100,000. In that connection we discussed the improvement of hotel facilities. In the context of the willingness of the Japanese business community to invest in tourism and in the circumstances of the religious and cultural ties between our two nations we hope to attract Japanese investment and make Kandy a very attractive city.
Something else we discussed was the setting up of educational institutions, particularly higher educational institutions, in the Kandy area. I think already Kandy is considered a centre of higher education. There is the Peradeniya University. There is the Medical College. Then there are several Teacher Training Colleges. There is also the Co-operative College. This time in Japan we discussed the possibility of setting up a big Science and Technology University in Kandy. The Japanese have expressed willingness to set up such an institution in collaboration with prestigious Japanese universities. Perhaps that will come up in Polgolla or Galagedara – there is plenty of land available in Galagedara. Anyway, it might be located in Polgolla or Galagedara. That will be a big new science and technology university oriented towards the latest technology. Work on that will commence soon.
Finally I should mention that Japan agreed to finance the 3rd Section of the Colombo – Kandy Expressway, i.e. the section from Rambukkana, through Galagedara to Kandy (which includes a tunnel). That is the section which involves the highest investment. So a Japanese company will build that section. We know that Japanese companies posses a very high standard of technology.
So, Japan will assist us in regard to that road project, the development of the Kandy city, the water projects and the university. Therefore we have been able to obtain a number of benefits for Kandy District and the Central Province in general, especially through the special religious connection existing between our two countries, Sri Lanka and Japan.”