Bathiudeen dictates affairs of Palmyra Development Board
[TamilNet, Friday, 27 February 2015, 23:57 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr Rishad Bathiudeen (Rishard Badurdeen), who has been notorious for causing dissension between Tamil-speaking Muslims and Tamils belonging to other religions in Mannaar and Vanni under the rule of former SL president Mahinda Rajapaksa, is continuing the same course also under the new regime, sources in Mannaar said. He has virtually hijacked the affairs of the Palmyrah Development Board (PDB), which comes under D.M. Swaminadan, the SL Minister of Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Religious Affairs, reliable sources at the PDB said. Earlier, the PDB came under Douglas Devananda of the EPDP, who was the minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development.
The PDB was placed under the ministry of Mr Swamithan according to the Extra Ordinary Gazette notification, dated 18 January 2015. This was in line with the practice since the establishment of PDB in 1978 that a Tamil minister collaborating with the SL State was assigned with the overall responsibility of the PDB.
Palmyra is almost exclusive to North-East as 11 million of the trees are found in the Tamil homeland, except 120,000 in former Tamil-speaking Puththa'lam, 40,000 in the Anuradhapura district and 2,000 trees in Hambantota.
The Palmyra Development Board has been the SL State run development entity tasked with carrying out all functions in relation to Palmyra plantation. The PDB has 12 regional offices, 17 production centers, 15 Sales Centers known as Katpaham and 15 model farms.
Recently, Mr Bathiudeen has been influencing key appointments of the PDB following the change in the regime, the PDB sources told TamilNet.
Mr Bathiudeen has also been canvassing for bringing the PDB under his ministry, the sources further said.
By allowing Bathiudeen to dictate the affairs of the PDB, the Colombo-based UNP minister D.M. Swaminathan is betraying the Tamils in the North-East, the PDB sources further told TamilNet.
In the meantime, informed sources in Mannaar said that Mr Bathiudeen, who visited the city a few days ago, has threatened a section of department heads, school principals and teachers in the district. The principal of Al Azhar School in Mannaar was one of them to be threatened for not inviting Mr Bathiudeen as chief guest to the public events of the school.
The Tamil-speaking Muslims in Mannaar have decided to teach him a lesson in the forthcoming elections, Muslim political activists in the city said.