Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa is directing the services on President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s advice. Already the tasks of the mobile services have been completed in the Kurunegala, Kegalle and Puttalam Districts. The services are now continuing in the Badulla and Monaragala Districts. The services in the Ratnapura, Galle and Matara will commence in October.
I met 73-year-old Leelawathie Menike at the Kuliyapitiya West Secretarial Division, which belongs to the Kuliyapitiya Seat of the Kurunegala District. Her address is Wewala Gedera, Pahaliyadola. The Kuliyapitiya West Secretarial Division comprises 68 Grama Seva areas with a total of 22,000 families (84,000 individuals).
When the mobile service was being held at Wadugedera Leelaewathie Menike – mother of four with six grandchildren - had a major problem to be solved. It is that she was deprived of an access road to her home, despite having won a court case after many years of litigation. Although in 1969 the courts had ordered one of her neighbor against whom the case had been filed, to give her an access road, the court order had not been carried out for 45 years.
On the advice of Kurunegala West Divisional Secretary Marie Fernando, the division’s Economic Development Officer Manjula Basnayake investigated the matter with the assistance of Grama Niladari Janika Dharshanie.
The accused in the case was 63-year-old H.M. Kirimenike, a mother of three, who appreciated the effort taken to resolve the issue peacefully. Leelawathie’s request for an 8 feet-wide of road had not been met for 45 years but this time due to the efforts of the Mobile Service Leelawathie has now got a 12 feet-wide road. This is one out of thousands of success stories resulting from the efforts of the Mobile Services.
Under the First Phase, the number of Community Mobile Services was 1610 in the Kurunegala District, 548 in the Puttalam District and 573 in Kegalle District. The total: 2731.
The problems found in the Kurunegala District numbered 535,029. Out of them the issues solved then and there were 306,465. In the Puttalam District 99,487 out of 188,882 were solved then and there. The problems found in the Kegalle District were 316,380 out of which 228,001 were solved immediately. Eighty percent of the remaining issues were solved within three months. The balance 20 percent are being attended to, at provincial level with the contributions of policy planners.
State employees have been the major source of strength to the Government in solving these problems. A total of 258,375 officials contributed to the mobile services in the Kurunegala, Puttalam and Kegalle Districts. It is as a result of the Government’s decision to increase the strength of the public service from around 600,000 to 3 million.
Before the commencement of the mobile services, people’s representatives and state officials are briefed on the tasks to be done. If some problems cannot be solved at village level, district level or provincial level, they would be presented to the Parliament and necessary action would be taken even by revising the relevant Acts, according to Minister Rajapaksa.
He has stressed at meetings the need for cooperation among State officials, people’s representatives and community members to make a success of this new approach to development. The issues that draw the attention of the Mobile Services are divided into two categories – common and individual.
The Mobile Services which began in the Badulla and Moneragala Districts of the Uva Province on June 1 are due to end on August 30. In the Badulla and Moneragala Districts the services are conducted at 886 Grama Seva areas in 26 Secretarial Divisions. This will benefit 1,259,900 persons of 371,563 families in the two districts.
Of the 886 Grama Seva areas in the Uva Province 575 were completed on August 5. Nearly 250,000 villagers attended these meetings. Sixty percent of their problems were solved then and there. The number of Government Officials who looked into the issues was 44,984.
In the Badulla and Moneragala Districts the areas covered were issuing of birth and death certificates, national identity cards and passports, providing spectacles, crutches and wheel chairs and assistance to agricultural, fisheries, animal husbandry, health clinics, maternal and child nutrition, food processing, beauty culture, preventing drug addiction and alcoholism, shramadana and religious affairs.
The success of these programs has encouraged the Government to have these services in the Ratnapura, Galle, Matara and Hambantoita Districts too, during this year.(KH)