Centre for Policy Alternatives on 7 March, 2016

Vilaasam – March 2016

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March 5th, 2016 – The Outreach and Capacity Building team of the CPA, working together with the Central Provincial Council and the management of the Mocha Estate, helped provide addresses to 1,500 families of the plantation sector in Maskeliya.

‘Vilaasam’, a project inaugurated in 2013 began by providing road names and addresses to families living on estates in Passara, Badulla. Since then, CPA has been advocating and negotiating with local authorities to provide the same basic human rights to as many estate families as possible. This phase of the project was made possible largely due to extensive cooperation on the part of the estate management and the superintendent, the Ambagamuwa Divisional Secretariat, Ambagamuwa Pradeshiya Saba, the Grama Niladhari Officer at Mocha Estate, and the Maskeliya Police Station.

CPA facilitators established three Citizen Councils in the estate and worked through the residents of the estate to ensure that this basic civil right was protected. Communities that have lived on plantations for generations still do not have addresses to the homes they inhabit. This has proven an extreme challenge in the reception of correspondence in relation to civil administration and education circulars from schools or universities.

The event on Sunday was a great celebration for these families. Numbers were put up on the houses in the three new areas demarcated in the estate. Students from the Mocha Estate school began the proceedings with the singing of the National Anthem in Tamil. Several cultural performances were carried out. Leaders from the three Citizens Councils handed over a directory that listed each family’s address to representatives from the Grama Sevaka office, the Maskeliya police, the principal of the estate school and the estate superintendent.

CPA Senior Researcher Lionel Guruge who conceived and leads the execution of the Vilaasam project addressed the crowd that now, having received one of their fundamental rights, he hoped that this would open the door for greater achievements. In doing so, he reminded the people of the importance of using their voices to hold accountable authorities and local authorities to ensure their rights were fully upheld.

Executive Director of the CPA Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu’s address noted the event as a celebration of the enjoyment of fundamental human rights by fellow Sri Lankans.
‘It is sad that in the year 2016, we are celebrating that our fellow citizens are getting addresses. While we should acknowledge that this is going to change, we should also be ashamed that we have let it go on for so long. We want a Sri Lanka where all citizens are equal,’
He added that at this time where a new constitution was being drafted for the country, he hoped that all Sri Lankans will be treated equally by the state and by each other.

Read the full report of this phase of the project in Sinhala and Tamil.

View all photos from the event here.