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Most Venerable Members of the Maha Sangha
Members of the clergy of other religions
Hon. Prime Minister
Hon. Maithripala Sirisena and all
Hon. Ministers, Governors, Chief Ministers,
All representatives of the people
It is our immense privilege to witness another great victory of irrigation in Sri Lanka. Personally, today I have the satisfaction of having carried out a great responsibility placed upon me by history. The pleasure I feel today is the same as what I felt as a child when I walked behind by father and relations at the chena, the paddy field, the threshing floor, and jumped over bunds and sluices of the paddy fields. The wind that brings the scent of the cocoa and cardamom fields of Matale to me today is the same as the winds that blew over the “kurahan” fields of Weeraketiya.
With the giant step we have taken today, my conscience tells me that together with the people of this country we have entered the proper path of development of our forefathers, which is the heritage of our country. Freed of the arid development vision we have followed for many decades, we have, as a nation, entered an era of a new fertile thinking that gives priority to national needs and aspirations.
Similar to countries such as America and Britain living on their heritage of wheat, and the Arab nations of the Middle East who live on their heritage of petroleum, as a country we have lived on the heritage of the paddy seed. It is true this heritage had also become a misfortune. We were steadily conforming to a thinking that believed in filling up of paddy fields to grow tobacco; selling off the water in this land of reservoirs to bridge budget deficits, and selling the nerve centres of our culture to build hotels.
I do not say this with any political party or person in mind. Such thoughts were there in green as well as in blue. This is not the fault of any leader or political party. As a country and nation we had moved towards thinking we were not used to. I call this a coolie mentality, imposed on us. Looking back as citizens, can we even for a moment think that such thinking benefited us?
That is why at the last Presidential Election we sought your endorsement to adopt a development policy by which we would not be indebted or subject to anyone; that suited our country and safeguarded the future of our children. That is why we presented a vision by which we would not sell ourselves or the assets of our land. I tell you with all responsibility today, as I did then, that the Mahinda Chinthana is not some writing that suddenly fell from the skies. Mahinda Chinthana is also not an election manifesto. What is stated in it is the vision for the future of our country. It is this chintanaya or vision that showed us the way to build this massive reservoir that is four times the size of the Kalawewa. This vision compelled us to undertake this great construction without being subject to the conditions of any foreign country or monetary institution; without having to hire out any foreign technical skills; but using the knowledge available with our own children, of our maha vidyalayas, our universities, and our technical colleges.
It is this courageous vision that showed the way to our Minister Maithripala Sirisena to launch this Moragahakanda Maha Samudra project, that was initially proposed during the time of Mr. SWRD Bandaranaike; was discussed in the time of Mr. Dudley Senanayake and Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, and feasibility reports for it were prepared in the days of both J. R. Jayewardene and Chandrika Kumaratunga. That is the real story behind the construction of this third largest irrigation reservoir in Sri Lanka, being built at a cost of Rs. 38,500 million of our own money.
One may ask whether a country that has to bear a huge burden for national security can successfully carry out a huge development task such as this. Yes, that is an important question. However, our Government is one that likes challenges. Terrorism that many once swore cannot be defeated is now crouching in fear because we faced up to that challenge.
We are not a government that puts off our responsibilities. We will never leave room for future generations to look back and blame us. What has been put off in the past becomes the burden on the present. What we put off today becomes a greater burden on the future. If we keep putting of what needs to be done, when will we be included among the developed countries? What we do by postponing what needs to be done today, is to increase the burdens of the future.
I wish to express my thanks on this occasion to the Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Dr. P. B. Jayasundera and other officials who gave us the courage to face up to this massive challenge by which we could lighten the burdens of the future.
Minister Maithripala Sirisena and officials of his ministry explained to me the benefits that would accrue from this huge inland sea that is to be built. As I recall, this would bring Rs. 2700 million from agriculture and Rs. 208 million from electricity, each year. However, it is my belief that there is no sense in calculating the benefits from the construction of a reservoir in terms of such percentages of profit. From the time King Dhatusena built the Kalawewa, the people who have benefited from it is more than all the drops of water in it. Even more people will continue to benefit from it in the future. What we seek to do is that. I consider this massive reservoir as an asset that we bequeath to a country that has a bright and radiant future. This must be why Minister Maithripala Sirisena decided to make the monument to this event a rock inscription as done by our kings of yore.
It is my firm belief that our people can overcome challenges much more difficult than development tasks such as this. One fundamental requirement for this is the trust and confidence we have in each other. However, achieving this trust is even more difficult than diverting the Mahaweli. Yet, the secret behind the great creations such as the Kalawewa, Tissawewa, Ruvanveliseya and Sigiriya, was the great trust that existed between our kings and our forefathers. Bowing my head in respect to that great past, I declare my heartfelt trust in all of you present here today. This supreme trust will be sufficient to take the golden waters of Moragahakanda to the North and East.
Friends, the strongest and most frightening place in the world that is so far unexplored lays not in great mountain heights, not in the ocean depths or the middle of deserts. It is located in the minds and hearts of people. I seek to address that very strong place in all of you.
The victors from this Moragahakanda Maha Samudra are the lives of people of the North Central Province and those in the North and East. Remember that what we will douse from the waters released from Moragahakanda to the North and East is the fire of communalism spread in those two areas by deadly terrorism. Had this project been implemented 20 or 30 years ago; had expressways from Colombo to Jaffna and Batticaloa been constructed then as it is proposed today, we can be certain that the terrorism of the LTTE would have been stillborn. I believe very strongly that the most powerful weapon against communalism is being fair and doing justice by the innocent Tamil people. If not, the cruel forces of communalism can completely destroy the great Sri Lankan civilization. We should understand this danger very well.
Our security forces have the ability, will and strength to defeat terrorism. Trust in them, for they have proved it in the East. Apart from trust, the main secret about that success is that we did not give political targets or goals to the armed forces. We did not sell or market the war for our benefit. It was the driving away of commission demons from the Ministry of Defence. Together with that we introduced the politics of cooperation in place of the politics of hatred.
This government is a people’s government. The door is open for anyone who loves this country to join our government. There is only one condition. The policies of the Mahinda Chinthana should be respected, because it represents the national aspirations of this country. Anyone can come and nourish it. But no one can weaken it.
In conclusion I wish to express my special thanks to the people of Laggala, for gifting your ancestral lands for the future of this country. This river flows over the land under which the bones of your ancestors are interred. I know that your strength and honesty is hidden in this river and this huge forest. I am confident that our Minister will do his just duty by you in the best manner. As a government we will protect you.
My good friend Minister Maithripala Sirisena should receive the honour of all in our country for launching the Moragahakanda project, which is the last reservoir under the Mahaweli Scheme. It is my duty to thank the Secretary and all officers of his ministry, and all officers of the Ministry of Finance. It is our national duty to remember the late Minister Gamini Dissanayake and Minister Maithripala Senanayake who gave such distinguished leadership to the great Mahaweli Scheme. Finally, it is my wish that this great victory of Sri Lankan irrigation, that is about the building of a new Sri Lanka, at the dawn of the 21st century, will be a morning star that ushers in peace and prosperity to our motherland.
May the Triple Gem bless you all!
May the Gods bless you!