The tragedy of the HADABIMA (Central Hill Country) and The Hadabima Authority of Sri Lanka the protection of which should be observed as a “RELIGION” in this country.
Posted on January 29th, 2020

Dr Sudath Gunasekara 

23.1.2020.

The Hadabima Authority of Sri Lanka (Haritha Danav Bim Sanvardhana Madyama Adhikariya) was founded by me in 1991 to implement a major national development Project within the three badly neglected Provinces of Central, Uva and Sabaragamuwa, covering the entire three Provinces, as an extension of the former NADSA concept started in 1978 to address three important objectives namely, a) Watershed management, b) Agricultural Diversification and c) Settlement Development, that was started to develop the area between 300-900 ft. MS of the hill country of this Island.

HADABIMA Development concept was first conceived by me in late 1986s when I was appointed to preside over the last rituals of NADSA, which was to be closed down by end of 1986. It was proposed by me in 1991, with a view to replicate the NADSA (National Agricultural Development and settlement Authority) experience as a pilot Project to address the above objectives. I conceived it  within a broader national perspective to address, the alarming   deforestation, soil erosion, land degradation and acute landlessness among the Kandyan peasants in the entire Central Hill Country and its fringe land around it focusing on  four important objectives namely,

a) Watershed conservation

b) Settlement Development

c) Agricultural Diversification

d) Addressing the Indian Estate Tamil labour problem with a lasting socio-ethnic integration through a mixed settlement programme under the provisions of the Nehru/Kotalawala Agreement of 1954

Origin of the HADABIMA Concept

 I named this Project as the HADABIMA Authority on three grounds I perceived. Firstly its physiography that resembles a heart flanked by two lungs m on eithersides, as shown in the diagram given below. Second its geographical location right at the centre of the Island and third, its functional correlation between that of a blood circulatory system.  My perception was inspired by my familiarity with its peculiar physiography and its relationship to the general lay out of the Islands landscape and the peculiar radial drainage pattern that has a commanding grip over the entire Island and its critical role in the sustainability of the entire life system in the country. My baccalaureate training in Geography at the University helped me to first visualize the analogy between the broad physiography of the central hill country with its two outliers, the Knuckles ranges on the North East and Rakwana Hills on the South West one day as I turned the physiographic map of the central hill country 15 degrees clock vice. Actually one day this happened by accident. After that I superimposed a drawing of the blood circulatory system to find a jig saw fit between the two that enabled me to draw a close analogy between the overall morphology of the central hill country to that of a heart flanked by two lungs on either sides. Thereafter I visualized the Islands river system as the arteries that perform the function of blood circulation in a living organism. In this case I visualize the river system as the arteries that keep the hydrological cycle going as I have pointed out in my original concept paper on this subject that was published in the Island paper and Asian Tribune (29th Oct 2006) and Lankaweb Dec. 2. 2017, with full details. As I have sated there, in closer examination ”just as much as the beat of the heart decides the fate of a man, similarly, the physical stability (beat) of the central hill country decides the fate of the entire life system and the civilization of this country for the following reasons. Therefore, the crying need  to protect the Sri Lanka’s Heartland at any cost.

All 103 rivers of the Island that provide water to sustain the entire life system on this lands, agriculture, industry and hydro power and human civilization have their sources on these hills, supported by the forest cover that protects their physical stability. If the forests are not there, there want be any rain and the rivers will cease to flow. If the rivers go dry at their sources they will go dry in their entirety and the whole country will end up as an uninhabitable sterile desert. As much as the man dies when the heart stops, similarly on the day the physical stability of the central hills is gone the entire life system of the island will disappear from its surface. It is in this context I argued for the crying need to protect the central hill country like the heart of our nation as this is the only watershed that provides water for the whole Island. This is a unique situation in the whole world. Therefore the need to protect it as the nation’s heart, you will agree, is a matter between death and survival for this nation.

 It is with this broad national perspective I called for the protection of the land above 5000 ft MSL as a strictly declared reserved and protected forest and limit all human settlement strictly to land below 3500 ft as it was done in the ancient times. If you look at Kotmale, Welimanda and Mandaramnuwara settlements you will see the wisdom of our ancient Kings. They never allowed any settlement above this level.

In this backdrop, Just imagine the scale of the danger and the crime of Building 63,000 houses, as it is being done today, on this HEARTLAND of the nation on the fragile steep slopes going up to 7700 ft MSL haphazardly and settling an army of Indian Tamils who consider India as their motherland and have both their hearts and minds in India, with no love what so ever for this country and are scheming to build up a Malayanadu on the HEARTLAND OF THE SINHALA NATION”, right at the center of this country. The latest reported in the press is the decision to hand over 300 acres to squatters in the Pidurutalagala reserve

                                                                             MAP 1

 Source : Sudath Gunasekara  1991

More than the historical injustices caused thereby to the native people who lived here for 2500 years and who sacrificed everything they had inherited from their glorious past within 500 years, from 1505-1948 to defend their Motherland in war against  three colonial invaders and the impending devastative strategic, political, economic and social implications on this Island nation that will follow due to this ongoing Internationally funded neo colonization” programme headed by India and it was this primary concern for a nation’s survival which made me to think about this comprehensive development project way back in late 1980s, as a person who love this country and deeply concerned with the destiny of the Sinhala nation at large.

As the man who resurrected a once dead and buried project (NAdA) between 1986-1992  that was rejected, discarded, blacklisted and money withdrawn in early 1980s by the World Bank and decided to close it down by bend of 1986 for political and administrative failures, I am deeply concerned and agitated by the present sad plight it has fallen in to. After resurrecting it from its abysmal depths and scratches during a short period  of 3 years, I gave it a new lease of life, even before the golden period of this Project emerged between 1989-1992 with WFP assistance. Lalith Atulathmudalai the then Minister of Agriculture on his first visit in Dec 1991 to this Project described it as the best small farm project in Sri Lanka at that time, incidentally which he described as the best example in the whole world where the poor is made poorer’ just one month before that date. The WFP followed suit by naming it as the best small farm project in Asia in 1992.

Having resurrected this dead Project from its grave by awakening a set of utterly disappointed and dejected 35,000 farmers to a highly motivated group of farmers with new hopes, I got 12.5 US$ million grant from the WFP and fed them three meals a day for six years, (that is 2.5 billion meals) from 1991—1992, with the slogan Food for development”. Coupled with a vigorous development plan I uplifted the standard of living of these men and women amidst immense political obstruction from the ruling UNP and got its area of authority expanded to cover the entire CP, UVA  and the Sabaragamuva provinces in 1992, in spite of the objections by the Minister Dharmadasa Banda.

As the first man who pointed out the crucial dependence of the Island’s entire life system and its civilization on the physical stability of the Central Hill Country, as its ‘GEOGRAPHICAL HEARTLAND’, with the lessons learnt from large scale deforestation done by the British, I am deeply grieved the way it had been destroyed and vandalized by native politicians from 1992 to date for political expediencies. They had no brain to understand the critical value of this Project for the survival of a nation and the need to protect it for the next generation. None of the Chairmen under both UNP and SLFP regimes during this period had the brain to understand the value of this Great Project and none has done a penny worth thing to protect it. All of them are either defeated politicians or political bats who change their party affiliations with every election and creep in in to these positions just to collect the money they spend on candidates and rob these institutions. They all have only enjoyed the benefits of office inherited from my perilous effort for six years. Beside mismanaging it and enjoying the benefits at public expense they have killed a hen laying golden eggs and also made it unmanageable and unrealistic by expanding its activities to areas outside its legal operational area of the three Provinces set by the Sri Lanka Hadabima Authority Act of 1991, which I got passed in spite of Minister of Agriculture Dharmadasabanda objecting to it openly. This illegal expansion they did by Gazette notification No. 2026/45 published on 07th July 2017 firstly, to cover up their gross financial misappropriations done for 25 years since 1992 to 2017, running about all over the country like Hambantota in the extreme South and Vavuniya in the North, outside its legal area of operation and secondly, to justify new recruits loaded to the cadre for political favouritism.

In my opinion the importance of the protection of the Heartland should be inculcated to every man and woman starting from the President of the Republic to every school going child in this country if we want to preserve this beautiful land for posterity. In that context the message of the value of this Project and its objectives should be passed down to every man, woman and child. I strongly believe the protection of the Hill Country, the geographical HEARTLAND of the nation, is the golden key to the future survival and prosperity of this Island nation. It should be taught to everybody to be observed as a RELIGION”, in this country, I think.

As you will agree, more trees on the Hill country means more rain, more water, less erosion and less land degradation and better soil, better physical stability with their anchoring root systems, more waterfalls, more hydroelectricity, more industries and more agriculture, more bio diversity, more flowers and more fruits with more birds and song, more people and more prosperity. 

A brief history of the NADSA (now called HADABIMA project (for the benefit of my readers).

 In the wake of the newly emerged worldwide development euphoria in the early 1970s based on environmental protection, land reforms and equitable distribution of wealth and to achieve social justice advocated by people like Gunnar Myrdal in his classic Asian Drama and the  thought provoking concept of appropriate technology (enunciated by Schumacher) as an alternative for modern technology to face the challenges of sustainable development and the need for increased production to avoid hunger and the dangers of blanket application of Western technology to the so-called Third World countries, the attention of the then Government (1970-1977) was drawn to the  following problems at Home.

1 Serious soil erosion and land degradation in the hill Country and silting of the Islands rivers in the lowlands and recurrent floods in downstream areas due to large scale deforestation started by the British in 1830s and still continuing un-arrested due to poor land management and inappropriate cultivation practices followed by an utterly ineffective and inefficient plantation sector.

2 The problem of serious landlessness and poverty and social injustice, particularly in the Kandayn provinces due to loss of their ancestral land to the British and non- implementation of the recommendations of the Kandyan Peasantry Commission of 1951 and lack of income generating opportunities among the peasant population in the region.

3 The crying need to diversify the plantation sector with a package of diversified crops like pepper, Cloves and Coffee combined with other native home garden crops like coconut, Arica, vegetable and fruits and animal husbandry to reduce dependency on few mono crops like Tea and Rubber and also to avoid the vagaries of recurrent price fluctuation in the world market to face balance of payment problems

4 The need to revisit the Kandyan Forest Garden concept that is as good as the natural forest for environmental protection and to control soil erosion (with an annual  soil loss rate of 0.1mt/ha/year) with a modified mixed farm version to generate more income than from a traditional Kandyan Forest Gardens. (Recent studies by Guido Kuchelmeister (1987) and Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka (1995) have found the Kandyan Forest Garden model to be the best ecosystem for this type of hilly terrain as it possess both ecological and environmental characteristics that are ideal for such situations in a tropical country- only second to the natural forests)

Subsequently on a request by the Government World Bank carried out a comprehensive study on all these aspects and finally they produced 97 excellent research documents that remains a gold mine guideline for any development in this region of the country for income generations.

First Phase

Based on the findings of these studies the next Government that came to power in 1977 set up the National Agricultural Diversification and Settlement Development Authority (NADSA) in August 1978 to implement a pilot Project in few selected river basins in the Kandy (Gampola and Nawalapitiya) and Kegalla (Mawanella and Yatiyantota) Districts to be replicated in other hill country areas with similar problems after the trial period. These Projects were confined to the mid country (300-900m MSL).The new Government started with a bang contributing 2.5m US$ as GOSL component and the World Bank providing 4.5m US$. The Minister of Agriculture E L Senanayaka vested few LRC marginal and neglected Tea and Rubber lands from the two Districts and established the NADSA in August 1978 and as usual packed it with their political stooges who knew nothing next to the objectives of the Project. They had no proper plan of development either. They also had no vision or a mission on the implementation of this Project. The Minister toured the area by helicopter with WB Chairman. Kapila Wimaladharma Pathirana (SLAS) the General Manager was the only professional attached to this Project. But before long the Minister chased him out as he had refused to carry out some of the Ministers mad orders and put one of his supporters in that place from Kandy kachcheri, a Surveyor by the name Wikramasuriya.  In no time the Word Bank got disgusted with mismanagement and poor Project performance and decided to withdraw from the Project with the 4.5 Million Grant. They discarded and blacklisted it as a failed Project.

Subsequently on a Report by Ranjan Wijeratna, who knew only about Tea planting, the then Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture the government decided to close down the project. Thus conceptually one of the best development projects ever conceived in the post Independent era in this country, finally the Government decided to close it down by end of 1986, on his report. Thereafter productive estates and good Bungalows were appropriated by politicians and sometimes even by the officials. For example Kelli Estate with its Bungalow was given to Deputy Minister Agriculture Imbulana. Part of Ovel Estate and its manager’s bungalow in Gampola to a relation of Gamini Disanayaka and Wariyagala Bungalow with few acres of Tea was appropriated by the successor to Kapila as Director and part of the same state was given to the Administrative Officer of NADSA. Meanwhile all the Tea factories were given for a song to one Karunaratna from Colombo a close friend of JR. who dismantled them and made a fortune of it.  Immediately after I took over the Project, I stopped all such nefarious activities and the left out assets were used for development within the Project

The second phase that opened a new lease of life to the NADSA Project (later named by me as HADABIMA Project) under my administration

On April 1st 1986 I took over a Project that was to be closed down by end of the year. In fact Minister Gamani Jayasuriya sent me there to preside over the last rituals of NADSA, until he takes me as his Additional Secretary on Janu.1. 1987.

This appointment came at a time when I was getting ready to leave public service in disgust, to take up a Commonwealth assignment as an Expert in Handicrafts in Sierralyon, as my appointment as Government Matale and Kandy had been blocked thrice and even as the Registrar of Peradeniya University in spite of the fact that I had come first at the Interview. On the day I met Minister Gamani Jayasuriyain this backdrop in the company of Mahanaayaka Thero of Asgiriya, after going through my Bio-data he said he will take me immediately as his Additional Secretary and moreover there is no point in going to NADSA as it will be closed down by the end of the year. Had I accepted his offer I could have been the Secretary Ministry of Agriculture in no time since by that time I had completed more than six years in Class1 and 21 years in SLAS. It also would have been a very big promotion in my carrier. But since I opted to be in Kandy for personal reasons till end of year he put me on this job on condition that I will come to the Ministry of Agriculture as his Additional Secretary in Jan 1987. Objections by the Chief Minister for my appointment CP were thwarted and I assumed duties as its Director on April 2nd 1986.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

I sat down and first studied the project reports. The first I read among them in detail was a comprehensive evaluation report of the Project made by Kapila the first Director that gave me a bird’s eye view of the Project. This was followed by few visits to the field and trying to understand the ground situation by meeting the people and seeing the actual situation and trying to understand the actual problems faced by the farmers. I met the Minister on Monday the next and told him how I have understood the project by going through the reports and seeing things on the ground coupled with my experience in District Administration and my knowledge on the landscape as a student of Geography. I told him that, in my opinion, NADSA is one of the best development concepts, if not the best, as I see, that had ever been proposed in the post Independent era in this country by any Government and therefore it should never be closed down as long as this country exists on earth” he looked at me sharply and said. ”Sudath all the other fellows say just the opposite of what you say, either all of them are mad or you are mad.’ He posed for a while and continued but having listened to you, I too think there is lot of truth in what you say”

From next day I started my mission by my country and the neglected Kandyan peasants with full drive, determination and commitment to make this the best small farm development Project in this country by the end of the year and to replicate it to all areas with identical problems within three years as a model Agricultural settlement Development Programme in South East Asia at least if not the whole world.

But there were serious limitations to achieving my goals such as

1 Lack of adequate staff both in the Office as well as in the field

2 Lack of sufficient funds, materials and equipment

3 An utterly depressed and demotivated set of settlers

4 And above all obstructions from the local politicians on personal grounds

For example the office staff was limited to an Administrative officer, an Accountant (both retired from public service), few clerks and 2 peons, three drivers and two labourers. In the field there were about 6 Field officers to look after 15 settlements in two Districts. The rest had been discontinued pending the closure of the project in December 1986. The vehicle flight consisted of 1 hacked Pajero jeep. 3 rackety small Daihatsu Jeeps, one Box model Mitsubishi Lancer old car, 2 old Lorries, all that escaped the hammer.  All development activities had come to a standstill by that time.

The following Monday I had a staff meeting of all officers and briefed them about the situation and my proposed future plans in the backdrop of my understanding and what the Minister indicated to me for my proposal to resurrect the Project and sought their support for my future plans.

The first step in this process was to motivate the staff and the settlers with new hopes and then to find sufficient funds to continue. My first approach was the Treasury. But point blank it said no as the Government has already taken a decision to close down the Project by year end. The next major problem was to bring back those settlers who had left the farm plots and look for a device to keep the settlers on the farm lots. With my experience in problems of rural development as a DRO, I met the WFP Country Director Mr Hersy in Colombo with a modest Project proposal for 2.5 million US $ request. But he said the WFP will never agree to reopen this as this project was rejected as a failed project due to mismanagement and moreover grant money with drawn and it was blacklisted. I insisted saying that I will give a guarantee that I can resurrect the project since it is one of the best development concepts ever conceived in this country since Independence. He again said WFP will never agree to come back. However as I insisted he finally agreed to take my proposal to Rome the following week when he goes there saying just to try your luck”.

To my surprise on his return he rang me up to congratulate me saying that Rome has agreed to reopen the Project under new management as they were highly convinced on my reasoning and he wanted me to make it 5 Million as he as the country Director can recommend up to 5 Million US $. In few seconds he rang me up again and said ‘Don’t worry Mr Gunasekara, I myself will adjust the figures and as from today onwards I will treat it as one of my own Projects. That is the way I was able to convince the WFP Country Director at that time.

In two months’ time came a Project appraisal mission to appraise it along with another proposal for Kotmale requested by Minister Gamini Disanayaka. I did my homework got an evaluative study done by Prof J.M. Gunadasa of the Peradeniya University supporting my arguments on the economic viability in the Project proposal. I submitted it to the appraisal team. I also got a 35 minute video film done on the importance of the objectives of this Project and its future potentials in nation building by Dharmasena Pathiraja  called’ Haritha Danavva” (Green Habitat) to be shown to them. (This film was later awarded a merit certificate at the International Film festival held that year in  Praha-Checholovakia on Environment). By the time the appraisal team arrived I had got the settlers to clean up their farms and roads on Shramadana basis and also got them to start on a vigorous programme of Development activities including planting, putting up stone hedges for soil conservation and even giving a new outlook to their temporary huts. Meanwhile I also provided pipe born water services where ever possible. For all these activities I gave them only 50% of the cost including material likes s-lon pipes. In order to get this work done. I organized the settlers in to groups of 25 families called Pasvisi Sabaha’ where they took all decisions and the officials playing the role of facilitators only using the participatory management technique. (Incidentally one person did a study on the success story of this first Highland Farmer Organization in Sri Lanka and got a PhD from a USA University).

 When the Appraisal team came, each member was given a docket with reading material along with a copy of the Evaluative Study followed by screening the video film Haritha Dannvva. By this time I also got the Board of Directors reconstituted with the Directors of the Departments of Agriculture, Minor Export Crops and the two Government Agents of Kandy and Kegalla with senior representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Treasury. I also had an advisory body formed with eminent men like Ray Wijewardhana and Dr Waidyanatha of the University Peradeniya who were experts on appropriate technology and planting and Kapila the first General Manager and Director and also Prof J.M Gunadasa who compiled the Evaluative study. I also got them to participate in field visits as facilitators to the Appraisal team. I got the farmers to welcome the visitors with traditional Bulath hurulu and in some places even by putting up traditional pandoles with local materials which they procured from their own farms.

At the end of the three day field visit I hosted the Appraisal Team for lunch at the Kegalla Rest House. While thanking them for visiting to appraise my Project I told them that it is a Herculean task to take this Project uphill. I also told them that when I think of the constrains and difficulties of taking it uphill it reminds me the famous Dover mail story that comes in Tales of Two Cities of Charles Dickens. I also told them that there were two horses to pull the Dover mail where as there is only one little horse here to pull the NADSA mail; the two horses there had eight legs whereas this horse here has only two legs. The mud on the Dover hill was only natural whereas here it is not only natural but also political, administrative, financial and even psychological in which I am already buried to the neck. However, I told them, I am determined to forge ahead uphill nonstop until I reach the top even if I don’t get an ounce of American flour or a grain of rice or an ounce of Sugar, dhal or Dry fish from WfP. Team leader Arora got up and this is what he said in reply.

Mr Gunasekara this is the fifth visit I made to this Project. What I have seen this time is something entirely different from all what I have seen in my All previous visits. I do not know what magic you have done to make this change and the brimming enthusiasm and hearty laughs seen on the faces of the settlers. You should not have any doubts about your goal. You are already at the top of the NADSA hill and I declare on behalf of the whole team that last night we have unanimously decided to approve your Project Proposal and more over it is not 5 million as you have requested but double that amount”.

At the end instead of 5 Million for five years they gave 12.million for six years after their second visit having seen my video film ‘The Miracle Basket” a short film made by me showing what a Great Change’ the food basket has brought about. At the end of that year my project was hailed as the best Small farm Development Project in Asia funded by the WFP. By end of 1991 the assets of the project went up by millions and the staff increased by hundreds as well as quality of service they did to the people. The vehicle fleet rose up to about 50 including, 6 tractors, a mini bus to transport settles for training in different places  and 48 motor cycles for field officers,.

Incidentally to everybody’s surprise the request for WFP assistance for Kotmale made by Minister Gamini Disanayaka was rejected by the WFP. 

Phase three 

 Encouraged by this success I moved on to the next step of my Dream, that is expanding the Project to all the three Provinces around the hill country, Central, Uva and Sabaragamuwa, under the New name Sri Lanka Harita Danau Bim Sanwardhana Madyama Adikariya” (Sri Lanka Hadabima Adikariya) from 1991 as they together form one physiographic unit and also correspond with the area covered by the Kandyan Peasantry Commission Report of 1951.

I visualized this expansion with a holistic perspective of development within a broader geographical area covering the entire CP, UVA and the Sabargamuwa Provinces, covering about 2/3 the area of this Island, with the dual objectives of,

Firstly, to protect the Central Hill Country, the nation’s mother watershed which I named as the The Geographical Heartland of Sri Lanka” or   Bhuugoliya HADABIMA” of Sinhale to save the entire life system in this country from its extinction and

Secondly, to retain this land as the LAND of the SINHALA NATION as long as the sun and moon shall last in this universe.

Meanwhile President Premadasa summoned me for a meeting at the Presidential Secretariat along with the Minister, Deputy and the chairman. At that meeting he asked me 3 questions. A) The present position of the Project b) What I propose to do next and c) The assistance we need to implement the programme. After listening to me he asked me Why are these Gampola side people so angry with you,” probably referring to the continual objections by the CM Dissanayaka.

Thereafter he explained the importance of this project to the committee as I had outlined in my concept paper I had given to him earlier on The geographical heartland of the country” where he quoted my statement that as much as the beat of the heart decides the fate of the man similarly the physical stability of the central hill Country decides the entire life system and the civilization in the entire Island”.  And finally he said gentlemen, as Sudath says this is a very good Project and that is why I have decided to support it.

This was followed by another meeting in the Ministry of Agriculture at Peradeniya presided over by him and attended by the Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture, Governors of the three Provinces and all the MPP and the GA A of the new Project area. At that meeting after my briefing where I requested or 40 million for the expansion programme he after consulting Paskaralingam who was also present gave me the 40 million over the counter, after I told him that I am planning to settle 250 000 families under the proposed new Project area at completion in all three Provinces covered by the Kandyan Peasantry Commission. He then said ‘Sudath I have given you all what you asked for. Now I want you to start a very vigorous publicity programme

This rang up the alarming bells for the politicians of the area as the politicians of the ruling UNP.They  immediately started their war against me perhaps fearing that I would be a political threat to them as they always thought I was a SLFP man. The Chief Minister Dissanayaka CP rekindled his torch as he had been gunning at me from the day I was appointed, as Director of this Project and soon the doom phase of the Project began to raise its ugly head.

 I was taken by surprise when I found that I had been transferred to the pool with immediate effect within a week after the famous Peradeniya meeting where the President gave me 40 million over the counter for the expansion I proposed without a blink.

This decision of Premadasa not only to put an end to the golden period of the HADABIMA Project but it also drew the curtain over the beginning of the dawn of a new era of physical stability, watershed management for the HAERTLAND and a new chapter in socio-economic prosperity, meaningful social integration and human contention and political stability for the whole country.

(But having realized perhaps his mistake, within a month President Premadasa appointed me as the State Secretary to the Ministry of Health after I got him convinced of the dangers of a proposal before the Cabinet for the amalgamation of the Divisional Secretariats and Pradesiyasabha, as the President of the SLAS held at the BMCH in December 1992.  On behalf of the general membership of the SLAS I wanted the President to withdraw a) the Cabinet paper to be taken up next day proposing to amalgamate the DSS and DCC, to appoint Divisional GAA as Secretaries to the Pradesiya Sabha Chairmen and also to appoint All Island Class 1 Officers as Divisional GAA by his Government.  Those SLAS Officers who were there would remember how profusely he thanked me for pointing out the dangers of the proposal and he agreed to withdraw that death warrant on the SLAS. I hope all will agree with me that if not for that timely intervention by me there would have been no SLAS thereafter in this country, thanks to Jolly Somasundaram the architect of that Cabinet paper. That is a different story altogether.)

To revert to the original subject of HADABIMA story I will now give you how politicians again killed a golden hen that would have laid even Diamond EGGS for this nation and created a new chapter in scientific watershed management, water resource development, economic and socio cultural renaissance and finally, brought about lasting political stability to this Island nation by solving the canker that is The Indian Estate Tamil Problem” forever in this country, had my proposal been carried out to its logical conclusion.

Thirty years after I left it, today sadly only the name HADABIMA I gave it is left. None of the objectives of the original fathers of either the NADSA as envisaged in early 1970s or that broad national vision I conceived and perceived in late 1980s on the enormous potentialities of this important Project are active there now. Just like most other Projects, It also has got reduced to another semi-Government Institution that provides lucrative and remunerative political jobs to satisfy those who pretend to have helped the ruling party to come to power. All this is done at public expense with no contribution at all to national development. When are we going to save this country from this rut?

Even after I left in 1992 this Authority functioned under the Ministry of Agriculture up to 2016  but sadly again it went back to the pre-1986 situation and became a heaven for politicians their unscrupulous henchmen who had no understanding of the basic objectives or the values  of this all important national project. They were only concerned in making a fast bug and reaping the harvest of what I had planted enjoying the benefits of their official positions doing nothing for the country or the people who pay their salaries. 

It was assigned to the Ministry of Regional Development from 18th March 2016. That enabled Minister Fonseka’s b/in-law to function from Colombo as Chairman. Now it has been converted to an all Island Project by the Gazette notification No. 2026/45 published on 07th July 2017. This was done firstly, to cover up financial misappropriation committed by its Chairmen, Board members and even officials in travelling all over the island, outside its area of authority between 1992 and 2017. Because as we know you can’t spend public funds for any work or travelling outside the area of its legitimate operation unless one has the approval of the Secretary of the Ministry concerned to travel or do any special business outside the area of its legitimate authority. Doesn’t this display the scale of corruption and abuse of authority by all those who have handled this Project ever since 1992? These haphazard changes clearly evince the inability to understand the basic objectives of the Project for which it was established in 1978 as NADSA. Political objectives getting precedence over development and creating unproductive jobs for their men and providing more facilities like vehicles and enhanced travelling appear to have overtaken the development objectives of the Project.

 After it came under Minister Fonseka, he has appointed one of his relatives as the Chairman and got an Office opened up in Colombo, as said before to enable him to function from there, thereby reducing the Peradeniya office to a Sub-office. They also created a post of Vice Chairman and allowed him to function from Hambantota as he happened to be a person from that area, I am told, that is how they have abused political power and misappropriated public funds and ruined this Project over the past 28 years.

Gazette notification No. 2026/45 published on 07th   July 2017 enabling its functions to cover the whole island has brutally killed its original objectives.  I have narrated this sad story to the country in order to bring this to the notice of the President and the Prime Minister so that they will take suitable measures at least now, before it is completely ruined by unscrupulous political appointees for which the final responsibility will come on the President.

However I must make it very clear here that I am not asking for a job by pointing out these blunders.  I am only requesting the President to rescind the 2017 gazette and confine its activities to the project area defined by the 1991 gazette and appoint someone who can understand the ABCD of this Project. In the process if the President or the Prime Minister want me to take over HADABIMA as its Head as the founding father of this wonderful Project, I shall work WITHOUT a SALARY with full commitment, dedication and determination until I put it back on its wheels as I  had dreamt in late 1980s. Within 2 or 3 years the most I shall make it the best development Project in this country by paving the way to realize the following objectives within five years and make history in the annals of post independent era of this country in people centered development, for everyone to see as to how a public institution should be run under Sinhala Buddhist ethos and perception for the benefit of the many and for the happiness of the many.

1 Get all the land above 5000 ft. declared as a strictly prohibited National Forest Reserve, a Thahanchi kele as it was done by our ancient Kings

2 Get the HADABIMA (> 1000 ft. MSL) protected as the Nations Heart to guarantee that the life system and Civilization in this country is not endangered and it will last as the sun and moon shall rise over this land.

3 Get 250 000 self-sustained farmer families settled within the Project area on 2 ½ acre farm lots

4 Obtain WFP Food assistance for 6 years, under the motto, Food for Development” to sustain these farm families, (as I did from 1991-1992) until they are on their own feet

5 Draw up a programme to cover the entire HADAMIMA with natural forest and Agro forests (Kandyan Forest gardens) to arrest soil erosion and land degradation endangering biodiversity

6 Once again restore the Central Hill Country as the nation’s biggest natural reservoir”, and the best hideout in the country and make all the 103 rivers starting on these hills perennial, increase water flow in all the rivers and minimize flood and silting in downstream areas and make at least the major rivers like Kelani (up to Yatiyantota rapids as it had been before 1815 and Mahaweli and Kalu ganga in ancient times

7 Make Sri Lanka self-sufficient in Hydro Electricity, minimizing dependency on thermal power and if possible make it a Hydro Power exporting country.

8 Make Sri Lanka a water exporting country in future as I have stated in my paper on Vision and Mission on Water Management” in Sri Lanka I have already sent to you.

9 Rectify all the historical injustices done to over 600 000 Kandyan peasants by the British and all Governments since the so-called Independence in 1948

10 End the all- important pestering Indian Tamil problem in the hill country by establishing Sinhala-Tamil mixed settlement schemes below 3500 ft. MSL with the final goal of integrating all of them under the Nehru/Kotalawala Agreement of 1954 with the main stream, as full citizens of this country.

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