Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa said developing weekly fairs throughout Sri Lanka under the Divi Naguma Sathipola concept will make Mahinda Chinthana vision a reality since sathipolas had served the island’s economy as barter exchange centres in towns and villages through the centuries and thus became part of the nation’s culture and lifestyle.
The Minister made this observation when he opened the modernised weekly fair at Bopitiya, Wattala yesterday. It was built with funds allocated to the Economic Development Ministry.
Sathipola has earned a special place among people living in 36000 villages belonging to 14,000 grama seva divisions, according to him, since they comprise 80 per cent of the population including those living in the plantation areas. He said that 90 per cent of them do their marketing at weekly fairs the modernisation of which would draw greater public attention to development activity.
The Divi Neguma Sathipola at Bopitiya, Wattala covers an extent of one-and-half acres where 150 stalls have been built. Earlier the place had no adequate protection for products stored there, no cleanliness and caused traffic jams during the days when the fair was held. The planning and construction of the new fair premises was done by the Western Province Road Development Authority under the direction of Western Provincial Council Minister Nimal Lansa.
Minister Rajapaksa said the new fair will give people the opportunity for barter trading, marketing products from other areas and buying consumer and household items at reasonable prices. He stressed this reflected President Rajapaksa’s objective of making people enjoy the true benefits of development.
Speaking further at the opening ceremony Minister Rajapaksa emphasised the need for traders, Pradeshiya Sabha officials and consumers to protect and properly maintain the premises of the fair since it has been constructed with public funds. He said the lack of maintenance was the cause of the deterioration and destruction of such project. The primary responsibility of maintaining the place however rests with the Pradeshiya Sabha, the minister pointed out.
The sathipola, he recalled, had evolved since ancient times. Today it gives businessmen the opportunity to sell unsold items remaining at their sales outlets and to obtain services they require. These fairs also provide self-employed persons with the opportunity of selling the items they manufacture or produce. It is also an ideal market for excess products.
The minister said the Gampaha District alone has 47 such weekly fairs. He thanked Western Provincial Council Minister Nimal Lansa and Provincial Road Authority General Manager Bandaranayake and his officers for all the assistance they rendered in this connection. Minister Rajapaksa also said, “In addition, we are also modernising among others maternal clinics, village roads, provincial roads and main roads. The long-standing problems facing the village are being solved with the intervention of the priest of the area. We hope to undertake development work in accordance with the law, without harming the natural environment and wildlife. This area is a marshy land and conserving the water there is a vital. Filling up the place almost amounts to committing suicide. When we started work here the area was experiencing floods because canals were blocked. Now we are in the process of dealing with illegal constructions. Yet filling up is continuing at some places and officials are responsible for allowing this to continue. I request all officials, the pradeshiya sabhas and the police to take action to rectify this situation. No matter how powerful a person is, I urge the people not allow him to violate the law. Today the President has ensured the people’s right to live and revived the economy.”