Local NGOs to cold shoulder Sarvodaya
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 07 April 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The Jaffna NGO Consortium reacted with scorn at the proposed visit to Jaffna by the leader of Sarvodaya , the largest NGO in Sri Lanka, A.T. Ariyaratne, who pledged that he would acquaint himself with the problems of the people of Jaffna by visiting the peninsula on April 17 before reporting on the matter to Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga, said sources inJaffna.
The Sarvodaya leader claimed that he had a discussion for four hours with the President about the situation in the north. The NGOs in Jaffna, however, are not said to be arranging a red carpet welcome for Dr. Ariyaratne.
A hard hitting letter signed by S. Paramanatham, President of the Jaffna NGO Consortium has advised Mr. Ariyaratne not to come to Jaffna before
taking steps to free the hands of the NGOs operating in Jaffna.
The government and the army are against Jaffna NGOs operating on their own, with funds from foreign donors. They are also opposed to foreign NGOs working through or with the local NGOs.
The letter points out how, as a result of this policy, a loan scheme implemented through local NGOs by Care International which used to be of immense assistance to local farmers had been suspended.
Another case in point made by the Consortium was that M.A Obeyagoda, Chairman of the Relief and Rehabilitation Authority of the North had not
met up with the local NGOs working in Jaffna when he visited the peninsula recently, clearly indicating that the authority would have no truck with them (the local NGOs).
The Consortium has also said that the Sri Lanka Government has shown little regard for local NGOs working in Jaffna at the grass roots, said sources.
A T Ariyaratne, has been a controversial figure for a long time. Revered by some as the embodiment of Gandhian ideals of selfless service, he is seen by some his harsher critics as a manipulative charlatan keen on amassing political power and wealth via the expansion of his NGO.
He was once perceived as a rival of President Premadasa which allegedly led to the harassment of Sarvodaya by the Government of that time.