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Johnston: Probe underway into allegation expressway construction causes floods

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‘Yahapalana adjustments to construction master plan may have led to present situation’

Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando yesterday instructed his Ministry Secretary R. W. R. Pemasiri to investigate immediately whether there was any truth in claims that some areas in Gampaha were inundated owing to the construction work on the first phase of the Central Expressway from Kadawatha to Meerigama.

Minister Fernando had also directed the Secretary to study the construction master plan and make adjustments thereto if such action was deemed necessary to control floods in the Gampaha area, Ministry sources said.

The Minister issued those instructions during a meeting held at the ministry to ascertain the veracity of statements by some MPs and ministers from the Gampaha District that the ongoing construction of the Central Expressway had blocked waterways in the area and thereby caused the inundation of several law-lying fields. The blockage of waterways had been caused by temporary roads put up in a haphazard manner to transport heavy machinery and construction equipment needed to construct the Central Expressway, the MPs pointed out at the meeting.

Minister Fernando said: “It is said that some have been inundated due to the construction work of the Central Expressway. I have discussed this issue with Gampaha District leader Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, State Minister Nimal Lanza and other MPs including Kokila Gunawardena, Nalin Fernando and Upul Rajapaksa. Gampaha District Secretary and top officials of the Irrigation Ministry were also present. We want to check whether this claim is true. I ordered the Secretary of my ministry to study the matter and submit a report in two days. We are also planning to meet the affected people and listen to their views. We must keep in mind that the highest rainfall in the known history was reported from this area, and that was one of the causes of floods. We do everything possible to alleviate the difficulties and inconveniences faced by the people for whose benefit the highways are being built. We are not a government that runs away, unable to face problems.

We have already initiated a plan as suggested by the officials of the Irrigation Ministry to clear some canals in the area to help drain water from some fields. We know that development becomes meaningless if people, the main beneficiaries thereof, are not happy.

When Basil Rajapaksa was the District leader of Gampaha and Cabinet Minister he not only developed the district but also had a special project to clean and clear the canal network. That good work was suspended after the 2015 regime change. If those projects had been carried out without attaching political identities to them, Gampaha would have been one of the most developed districts in the country today; certainly there would have been no flood problems.

The Yahapalana government had altered some sections of the master plan of the central expressway to help its cronies. “It is laughable that the very same people who meddled with the master plan and created problems are now lambasting us,” Minister Fernando said.



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Future of Sri Lanka will be determined by the economic policies implemented over the next five years – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that the future of Sri Lanka will be determined by the economic policies implemented over the next five years.

The President delivered this statement while addressing the youth and business community in Mannar during his participation in the “Youth Conference” held on  Sunday (16).

The President initially attended the Mannar District “Youth Conference” held at the Conference Hall in Mannar Town Hall. The conference, themed “Journey for a Bright Future,” included an award ceremony where the President presented certificates and cash prizes to students who excelled in the 2023/2024 G.C.E Advanced Level Examination.

President Wickremesinghe interacted directly with the youth, addressing their questions and providing positive responses.  He explained that over the past four years, job creation was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis and he assured the audience that the upcoming economic program would create new job opportunities for those previously unable to secure employment.

The President emphasized that it is up to the youth to decide whether they wish to advance their own future and contribute to the country through the government’s program.

[PMD]

 

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President assures that persons on pilgrimage to Madhu will not be hindered

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Addressing the Mannar District Development Committee meeting held at the Mannar District Secretariat on Sunday (16), President Ranil Wickremesinghe said  that it is unfair to arrest and fine pilgrims on their way to sacred sites like Madhu Church and Sri Pada.and assured that pilgrims visiting  Madhu Church will be provided with all necessary facilities to engage in their pilgrimage activities without any hindrance.

He instructed that if pilgrims are arrested in the future, the President’s Office should be informed immediately.

During the meeting, the President directed the Sri Lanka Army to clean and develop both sides of the existing Madhu Road for the convenience of the pilgrims visiting Madhu Church. He also said that a representative of the Bishop of Mannar, the Department of Forest Conservation, the Road Development Authority and the Sri Lanka Police should coordinate to ensure that these tasks are completed before the upcoming annual festival of the church of Our Lady of Madhu.

The DDC meeting, which focused on the future development plans for the Mannar district was attended by Political representatives and government officials.

 

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Abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony to achieve spiritual and worldly success – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his Hajj message emphasizes that to achieve spiritual and worldly success, individuals must abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony. It is with this noble aim in mind that Muslims celebrate the Hajj festival each year.

On this occasion, Muslims from around the globe gather at a single place of worship, united in purpose, to pray for communal values that embody the hope of humanity. The Hajj celebration fosters feelings of equality and brotherhood among all people, delivering a profound message for world peace.

I extend my heartfelt wishes to the entire Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world for a meaningful Hajj celebration, where everyone comes together to fulfill the aspirations of humanity.

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