Sri Lanka
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Committee to further integrate Tamils of hill country origin into society – President

Jeewan Thondaman with Ranil Wickremesinghe

Sri Lanka Government will appoint a committee to seek how best to integrate the Tamils of Hill Country Origin further into the Sri Lankan society, said President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

He said further that although some of the Tamils of Hill Country Origin had integrated successfully into the Sri Lankan society, some have failed and measures would be taken to assist them to do so.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these observations addressing at the occasion of accepting a consignment of medicines donated by the Pondicherry Union Territory and people of India on the request of Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (October 30).

The consignment of medicines was officially handed over to the President by Secretary General of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) and Parliamentarian Jeewan Thondaman, in memory of the late Mr. Saumyamoorthi Thondaman who passed away 23 years ago on October 30th. The consignment of medicines was subsequently handed over to Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.

The President said that he would attend to ensure the development of schools in the plantation sector while the Ministry of Health would take over the hospitals in the plantation sector. He assured development in both these areas very soon.

Now the government is also encouraging building of houses and issuing lands to the people of Tamil origin in the Hill Country because they must have their own lands and a place to live just like other groups in the hill country, the President added.

He further said, steps would be taken to review the plantation economy that could be affected by people leaving the plantation areas after being educated. “As people are being educated, more and more are leaving the plantation sector. The government has to find jobs for them as well as for other Sinhalese and Muslims who leave their areas to settle elsewhere. So, the government has to look at the future of the groups that would continue to live in the plantation sector and on how to improve the plantation economy as they cannot be allowed to live on a subsistence level.”

He said further that these issues would be gradually resolved in the coming years as the government resolves the whole ethnic problem in Sri Lanka.

He assured that the government would take further measures to ensure that Tamil people of Hill Country Origin would have the same facilities as other people in the country as realised and worked on under late President J R Jayawardena’s tenure.

He also requested all leaders of the Hill Country Tamils to join in this endeavour to ensure that all benefits of Sri Lankan citizenship is enjoyed by the people in the Hill Country of Tamil Origin.

The President also appreciated the service rendered by late Thondaman and said he was one of the most outstanding leaders of the 20th century in Sri Lanka as through nonviolence he achieved citizenship for all the people of Indian Origin who stayed back after the Srima-Shasthri Pact.

The President said that he got citizenship for some people who should have gone under Srima-Shastri Pact but decided to stay back in Sri Lanka.

Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake, a representative from the Indian High Commission, several members of CWC including Senthil Thondaman were present at the occasion.