All set for Eastern Poll

Irangika Range
COLOMBO: The percentage of polling cards distribution has reached 98.5 per cent yesterday in the Eastern Province, Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardana said yesterday.

The biggest and strongest security contingent has been deployed by the Government to ensure a free and fair Provincial Council Election on May 10, the Minister said.

Addressing a media-briefing yesterday in Colombo, the Minister said that the Government has taken all measures to provide maximum security with special emphasis on the polling day.

Security personnel will be at polling duties allowing the public to cast their votes in a democratic manner and there will be no possibility of elections violations in the province.

“No complaint has been received regarding the unlawful acquisition of polling cards by armed factions within the Province,” he said. Maximum facilities specially common transport services have been strengthened for the benefit of voters.

They must produce their identity cards at the polling booths. All officers have been advised to carry out duties without fear and favour and stern action will be taken against those involved in election related violations.

“Only 72 complaints related to election violations have been reported so far with 21 incidents being minor,” he said.

Several ethnic groups irrespectively 44.3 per cent of Tamils, 32.6 Muslims and 22.6 of Sinhalese are living in the East. The Government has established an election-friendly environment in the East.

“As a result many political parties are involved in election campaigns addressing rallies and distributing leaflets even at the midnight.”

A peaceful environment has been established in Vakarai and over 1,400 residents of Vakarai, Kinniya and Lahugala gathered on Tuesday night to present their problems to the President via satellite.

It shows that there is no more fear psychosis among the people in these areas even at night and they live freely and peacefully.

None of villagers raised a problem regarding their security and all problems were related to electricity, education and fishing. According to them, armed groups has caused no trouble.

“The UNP’s propaganda on several armed groups in the Eastern Province is false. No one complained to the President in this regard.

People are enjoying their freedom now after the liberation of the East from the LTTE. Democracy will be further reinforced by the Government with the setting up of the Provincial Council in the East.”

Pilleyan has come to the democratic path and it is a big victory of all of us, the Minister added. The UNP’s rhetoric on armed groups is an excuse for their imminent defeat at the election.

“Today the Eastern Province is blessed with massive development. There were only two roads to access to the Eastern Province before the liberation. The A5 road has been fully rehabilitated and opened to enter the East.”

The Government has allocated Rs. 607.7 million for electricity projects in Ampara while 12 projects have been successfully completed so far. Electricity projects valued at Rs.300.7 million have been completed in Batticaloa.

The President has advised authorities to set up Samurdhi Banks in the Eastern Province with immediate effect for the benefit of villagers. It has also stepped up measures to set up 25 Coop-cities in the East as a relief measure to consumers.

Irrigation projects have given priority in the development and Rs.15 million has been allocated for irrigation development in Trincomalee and Ampara Districts. In order to upgrade infrastructure developments in the Agriculture sector, the Government has allocated Rs.123.6 million.

Agriculture development in the East has been given priority and considerable allocations have been granted by the Government until year 2010.

It has allocated Rs. 418.5 million in 2008 while It would be Rs.227.5 million in 2009. The allocation would be a Rs.123.6 million in 2010.

People in East and North face many social problems. Parents arrange child marriages at age 13 due to boys’ deployment for terrorism by the LTTE. “We have taken a number of measures to change this situation,” he said.

Representative will be appointed to the Provincial Council in East according to the wishes of voters.

They will be selected representing all ethnic groups. The Government expects to launch a massive development programme after the election for the betterment of the people, he remarked.

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