For decades, residents in the rural Polonnaruwa district have faced numerous difficulties such as drinking water scarcity, chronic kidney disease, poor infrastructure facilities and debilitating poverty. Even though the people of Polonnaruwa benefitted from the end of war, their quality of life and socio-economic outlook has remained the same.
President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to launch an accelerated development programme in the North Central district came at an opportune time. Soon after assuming office in 2015, President Sirisena launched “Pibidemu Polonnaruwa” (Polonnaruwa Blooms), district development programme. The plan targetted 180 development projects that was allocated a massive budget of Rs 60 billion. This is the first time such a significant allocation of funds has been channeled towards development in the remote region.
Last week, President Sirisena marked the inauguration of the programme by opening the new building of Divulankadawala Maha Vidyalaya. Addressing the inauguration ceremony, the President stressed that the current development plan of the Government was not limited to several provinces but would serve the entire country equally. Unveiling another new building in the Medirigiriya National School which was also a part of this development programme, the President claimed he would transform Polonnaruwa as a model district for countrywide development.
A new cricket ground built with an investment of Rs. 80.6 million in Polonnaruwa Rajakeeya Vidyalaya, was also commissioned on August 2. President Sirisena also inaugurated a new Chronic Kidney Disease Unit and Dental and Surgery units at the Hingurakgoda District Hospital and 15 housing projects in Hingurakgoda and Thamanakaduwa for low income communities.
Among the other projects unveiled this week were the new Medirigiriya Bus Stand, new jogging tracks in Polonnaruwa town, Ministry of Health building in Welikanda, a new building at the Manampitiya Hospital, a new three storey building in Central College, Vilayaya, a new building at the Katuwanvila Junior Muslim school, the new Municipal Council in Polonnaruwa and a new administration building at the Bakamuna Hospital.
The projects inaugurated last week were not mega development projects like skyscrapers and highways that people in the rural district may never use, but tangible community-driven programmers that will uplift education and health standards in Polonnaruwa and really touch the life of people in villages that are otherwise excluded from development priorities, community organizers said.