Feature Article
2ND LEAD (Adds photos)

UNF schemes Sinhalicisation as ‘development’ transforming Jaffna into ‘megacity’

[TamilNet, Monday, 09 September 2019, 16:40 GMT]
SL Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe and SL Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera were visiting Jaffna during the weekend along with SL minister for Megapolis & Western Development, ‘Patali’ Champika Ranawaka, the secretary of Sinhala-Buddhist ultra-nationalist Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU). Mr Wickramasinghe was reciting the mantra of ‘development’ and was repeating the talk of ‘devolving more powers’ to the provincial councils through securing a majority in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. However, Mr Ranawaka, who is opposed to the concept of Sinhalese sharing political power with Tamils in a federal arrangement, was claiming that a ‘megacity’ project would be transforming the city into one of the four main economic hubs in the island. Furthermore, Ranawaka contended that the plan was part of an integrated ‘national physical plan’, which conceived at Battaramulla in Colombo.



Champika Ranawaka talking of transforming Jaffna into a megacity was also making references to the effect that many Jaffna Tamils had left the peninsula for good.

The Sinhala extreme nationalist minister was scheming demographic change involving Sinhalicisation as an underlying component of the so-called mega-development plan, commented Tamil observers in Jaffna.

“The UNP has already vowed to erect one-thousand Buddhist temples in the North-East creating heritage disputes and strife. What else to expect from them,” asked MK Shivajilingam, a former TNA Parliamentarian and an ex-councillor of the Northern Provincial Council.

Commenting further, the TELO politician characterised the visit of SL ministers as election propaganda and said the political solution must be the principal focus of Eezham Tamils.

The so-called development which the UNP talks about would be facilitating ways for economic encroachment of North-East by the actors from South-West.

The ‘development’ coming from South would not be conceived to ensure the livelihood of war-affected and poverty-stricken Tamils in the North-East, he said.



Various state actors in the International Community (the West) promised to develop North-East in the Tokyo Donor Conference during Norway facilitated negotiations. What has happened to that promise? If such pledges were genuine, we should have seen real transformation in the North-East by now, he further observed.

Thoompilpiddi
Location of Champuth-thu'rai/ Jambuko'la Pattana, facing Palk Bay of the Bay of Bengal, at the northern entrance to the Jaffna Lagoon which is now silted [map - TamilNet]
Any mega ‘development’ programmes preceding political solution to the conflict would be tantamount to the dismantling of Tamil nationhood as far as the Tamils are concerned, he warned.

Mr Wickramasinghe was talking about the sea trade heritage of Matota (Maathoaddam - the ancient and medieval emporium at Maanthai in Mannaar), Jambuko ‘la Pattana and Trincomalee as the three main ports in and around the Jaffna Peninsula.

Mangala Samaraweera’s “Enterprise Sri Lanka” exhibition was also featuring a “legacy zone”.

It was the occupying SL military that had put up the stalls for the exhibition. Hundreds of Sinhala soldiers being engaged in the work exposed how the SL military corporatism would hijack this ‘development’.

The memorial site of Tamil victims of one of the first massacres carried out by the Sinhala police on the final day of the Fourth International Conference of Tamil Research in 1974 has been senselessly deployed by the organisers of the “Enterprise Sri Lanka” exhibition at Muttave'li in Jaffna.


Mr Saramaweera came by train to Jaffna to attend the ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ exhibition. While in Jaffna, he met a section of war widows at the District Secretariat. The SL Finance Minister tried to convince the families of persons subjected to enforced disappearance to consider accepting a monthly ‘allowance’ of 6,000 rupees per family starting from November.

However, there was a condition attached to the offer of 6,000 rupees assistance. The families should first obtain ‘Certificate of Absence’ from the so-called Office for Missing Persons, Mr Samarasweera told the families.

Why does the SL “Finance Minister” interfering in the OMP related issues, Tamil activists in Jaffna asked.

The SL Minister was also trying to lock the families of war widows with promises of loans without collateral.

Amidst fuelling crisis in the ranks of the UNP regarding its presidential candidate, the UNP ministers visiting Jaffna were echoing a coordinated message towards the Tamils in the North.

The UNP/UNF ministers were visiting Jaffna to lay the foundation of the new building of Jaffna Municipal Council and to jointly take part in the opening ceremony of the so-called “Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition” at Muttave’ li.

Mr Samaraweera was claiming that the Enterprise initiative would be creating 100,000 new entrepreneurs in Jaffna and elsewhere.

Entertainment shows involving Sinhala artists from South and artists from South India are featured in the exhibition to attract the people in Jaffna


“Loans under concessionary interest rates starting from minimum of Rs one hundred thousand up to 750 million rupees could be obtained and the educated young prospective entrepreneurs of Jaffna who are seeking for such an opportunity will be able to reap benefits from this scheme,” a press release issued by his ministry on 06 September claimed.

In the meantime, Mr Wickramasinghe was reminding the Tamils that the ‘development’ plans were being sketched out with the approval of the elected representatives of Tamils, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

TNA parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran, promoting the visit of the SL ministers, was using the opportunity to wage election campaign in support of SL Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe.

Some of the drawings displayed in the legacy zone follow:

Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition
Heritage Zone stall of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition


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