A popular tourist destination -Batticaloa makes rapid strides

(Source from : District Planning Secretariat)

***Copy Rights of this Article to http://www.sundayobserver.lk[By P. Krishnaswamy]

{Published on Sunday, 21 September 2014}

The opening of the Manmunai Bridge by President

The inauguration of the Indian Housing scheme, attended by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, former Indian High Commissioner Ashok K Mehta and Batticaloa District Secretary Mrs.P.S.M.Charles

Manmunai Bridge

Gandhi Park in Batticaloa city

Kattankudy town after roads were rehabilitated and carpeted

The Palaganavi Irrigation Project

East Lagoon Hotel.

A popular Tourist destination

The Batticaloa district, known as the 'Rice Bowl of Sri Lanka', is making rapid strides towards achieving the development goals with much has already been achieved thanks to the mega development programs that came into implementation after terrorism was wiped out from the country little over five years ago, and many more similar projects are being implemented in District Level.




In the years 2008 to 2013, a staggering Rs. 70,883 million has been allocated for various development projects encompassing infrastructure, roads, agriculture, fisheries, education, irrigation, livestock, tourism, shelter and health, she said.




With agriculture and fisheries being the mainstay of a large majority of the district's population and the government's focus now on transforming the district as an popular tourist destination, the district is fast transforming as an important hub of economic and livelihood activities, she said.




Under infrastructure development programs, rural roads to an extent of 4185.07 km are to be rehabilitated/reconstructed by the local government authorities and considerable progress has already been achieved, according to details provided by relevant sources of the Batticaloa District Secretariat. Of the total 50 bridges on rural roads to be completed by local government authorities, 16 bridges have already been completed while work on the remaining bridges will be completed in the coming years, the sources said.




The Manmunai Bridge that was opened by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on April 19 this year stands majestically across the Batticaloa lagoon, connecting the Elavankarai and Paduwankarai regions that remained virtually separated for centuries, with access available from one region to the other only through a hazardous ferry service that was in existence for many decades. Type 'A' highways to an extent of 169.24 km are to be rehabilitated/reconstructed by the Road Development Authority (RDA). Work on 138.54 km highway has already been completed.




The RDA has already completed 67 out of the total 76 type 'A' bridges while work on the remaining bridges will be completed soon. Similarly of the 58.52 km of type 'B' roads that are to be rehabilitated/reconstructed by the the Road Development Department (RDD) 11.78 km has already been completed while the remaining work will be completed in the coming years. Of the total 20 bridges on the 'B' type roads to be completed by the RDD, six bridges have been completed while work on the remaining bridges will be completed in the coming years, the district secretariat sources said.




Under these infrastructure development programs, many rural areas and villages which, prior to May 2009, had either no access or very limited access to the nearby townships and cities were connected and both state and private transport services are operating regularly, the sources said.




Paddy production and paddy land under cultivation during both the 'Maha' and 'Yala' seasons had progressively increased since 2009 due, mainly, to the fertiliser subsidy, agricultural equipment and other incentives provided by the Government, the sources said.




The extent of paddy land in the 'Maha' season that was 50,807 ha in 2009 increased to 60,783 ha in 2013 while the production that was 1,47,278 Mt in 2009 increased to 151,511 mt in 2013. In 2020 this is targeted to increase to 61,320 ha and 257,544 mt respectively, the sources said. While the extent of paddy land that was brought under cultivation in 2009 'Yala' season was 15,637 ha, it increased to 19,970 in 2013 while the production increased to 99,750 mt from 59,227 mt in 2009. This is targeted to be increased to 26,800 ha paddy land and 134,000 mt production in 2020. While the district's contribution to national paddy production was only three percent in 2009, it increased to 18 percent in 2013, the sources said.




Facilities provided to the farmers including provision of quality agricultural inputs, assistance for land levelling and soil improvement, expanded extension services, advanced technology, enhanced storage facilities and arrangements for the prompt purchase of the paddy produces were also instrumental towards the increased paddy production, the sources said.




Considerable improvement has been achieved in the livestock development and dairy farming sector too, the sources said. All milk collecting centres have been reconstructed and milk chilling centres have been increased while hybrid milch cows have been distributed among the farmers in an effort to help them to increase their milk productivity. Consequently milk production has increased from 12 percent to 30 percent while the income of the cattle-growers and dairy farmers have increased substantially while creating more employment opportunities, the sources said.




One more significant measure that is being initiated towards livestock development and milk productivity is gazetting of all grazing and pasture lands in the district, the sources said.




Vast improvements have been effected in the fisheries sector and in the lives of the fisher families under the far-reaching programs of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.




The number of marine fishermen has increased to 14,287 in 2014 as against 12,860 in 2008; the number of inland fishermen has increased from 10,527 in 2008 to nearly 12,000 in 2014; the number of fisher families has increased to 22,726 in 2014 as against 20,910 in 2008 and landing sites for fishing vessels have increased to 127 in 2014 compared to 115 in 2008, according to the sources.




The number of In-board Multi-Day Boats (IMUL) has increased to 382 this year as against 275 in 2008; the number of In-board Single-Day Boats has increased to 70 as against 41 in 2008 and ; the number of Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic Boats (OFRP) has increased to 1302 this year as against 825 in 2008, the sources said.




Other measures taken for improving the sector include the reconstruction of a fisheries harbour, the establishing of a fisheries training centre NIFNE, the provision of four deep-freezer vehicles to the fishermen’s societies, establishment of a fingerling hatchery and establishment of shrimp farms. Consequently fish productivity has increased from two percent to 8.07 percent, which in turn, has contributed to enhanced living standards of the fisher families. Nearly 30 percent of the harvests of tuna, crab and shrimp are exported, the sources said.




The contribution of the district’s fish production in 2014 increased to 8.75 percent from 03 percent in 2008.Housing problem in the district has been addressed to a significant level under housing schemes , with the construction of 23,323 permanent houses and an additional 3137 permanent houses under India’s housing program.




The percentage of availability of affordable houses has increased from 53 percent to 67 percent which, in turn, has contributed to improved living conditions of the people.




The education sector has recorded marked improvements, with 175 schools already rehabilitated/re-constructed, 14 vocational centers established and 115 schools presently on improvement programs,benefiting over 30,000 among the student population, the sources said. IT education programs have been introduced to 45 rural schools in the district and 22 schools have been brought under the ‘Mahindodaya Schools Program’.




The teacher-student ratio as of now is 1:20 which is a significant achievement.Health services to the people under the health sector are fully functional with the attendance of medical specialists, physicians, para medics, nurses and other medical staff in all hospitals - one teaching hospital, four base hospitals, two district hospitals, 15 divisional hospitals, 14 primary health-care units,one chest clinic and one psychiatric rehabilitation center. Fourteen Medical Officers of Health (MOHs) are also functioning in the district. Four private hospitals and 96 Gramodaya Health/Childcare centers are also operating , the sources said. Peripheral hospitals have been renovated/reconstructed ; more rural health centers have been established ; the the teaching hospital has been upgraded with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities and the faculty of medicine has been provided with hostel facilities, the sources said.Of the total requirement of 635 sub-stations (with transformers), 552 have already been established, 48 under installation and the remaining 35 will be installed soon. Of the 162,468 connections applied for , 123,188 have already been provided while 9280 are to be provided connections this year. The balance requirement will be fulfilled soon, the sources said.




Under the Government’s program to transform the district as a much-sought-after tourist destination , 20 tourist hotels with 1300 rooms have already been established while more hotels will be established in the near future, the sources said. Beautification of towns and beaches combined with sea-plane services, preservation of world heritage sites , establishment of more number of tourist information centers and establishment of handicraft villages are some of the other measures that are being introduced for promoting tourism which will create more employment opportunities and also pave the way for the socio-economic uplift of the local communities, the sources said.