The Government has earned accolades from the Archbishop and Bishops for the development programmes unveiled on behalf of the Northern and Eastern polity. They met President Rajapaksa yesterday.
The meeting between the President and the delegation headed by the Archbishop of Colombo and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference Rt. Rev. Dr. Malcolm Ranjith took place at Temple Trees. They told the President that they are satisfied with the immediate resettlement of nearly 250 thousand displaced civilians of the North and East. Jaffna Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Soundranayagam praised the Government, all Ministers and officials for this significant achievement. He said that resettling civilians after the removal of mines was an arduous task. The Bishops assured full support of Catholic Churches to the effort of the Government to provide fishing and agricultural gear and drinking water facilities to these civilians.
The President positively responded to a proposal by the Archbishop to appoint a Multi Religious Advisory Committee to look into and resolve day to day issues affecting all communities, especially in the areas of education and livelihood development. Many areas allocated as security zones had been returned to the owners. The President told the Bishops that his desire was to grant alternative land or compensation if more areas were needed.
Minister Basil Rajapaksa pointed out that lands had to be acquired from not only the North and East, but various parts of the country for development projects such a highways and power. This was being carried out on a legal framework. The Minister underlined that initiatives would be taken to grant sufficient compensation or alternative land. The depletion of inland fishery resources due to the use of prohibited nets, town planning hindering the environment and the illegal constructions in the Anuradhapura City, came up for discussion at this meeting. The President agreed to find immediate solutions to these problems. Mannar Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph, Anuradhapura Bishop Rt. Rev. Norbert Marshall Andradi, Kandy Bishop Rt. Rev. Vianney Fernando, Bishop of Trincomalee and Batticaloa Rt. Rev. Dr. Kingsley Swamipillai, Badulla Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Winston Fernando, Kurunegala Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Harold Anthony Perera and Chilaw Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Valence Mendis, Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne and Ministers Bandula Gunawardena and Rajitha Senaratne were present.