Colonisation jubilee to be celebrated
[TamilNet, Monday, 23 August 1999, 19:25 GMT]
The golden jubilee celebrations of the Gal Oya development scheme will be held in Ampara on August 28 and 29, district co-ordinating committee sources said today.
The Minister of Irrigation and Power and the Deputy Minister of Defence Mr. Anurudha Ratwatte will be the chief guest.
The Leader of the Opposition and the President of the United National Party Mr.Ranil Wickremesinghe will be the distinguished guest at the celebrations which will be held at Ampara, sources said.
The Gal Oya development scheme was inaugurated in 1949 by the first Prime Minister of the country, late Mr.D.S.Senanayake.
This was the first state-sponsored colonisation scheme where majority lands were distributed to Sinhala peasants living in other districts outside the eastern province.
This colonisation scheme paved way for the creation of a new electorate called Ampara, now Digamadulla, in the east dominated by the Sinhalese community.
The scheme also led to the formation of the Federal Party under the leadership of late Mr.S.J.V.Chelvanayagam.
"The Federal Party vehemently opposed the state-sponsored colonisation scheme, which it considered a threat to the preservation of the traditional homelands of the Tamil speaking community," said former party members who condemned the celebrations as.
"In effect, the government is to celebrate the successful implementation of the state-sponsored Sinhala colonisation schemes in the traditional homelands of the Tamils and Muslim communities in the east over the last fifty years," they said.