Parliamentarian Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera said he was appalled when former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had responded lightly to requests by several concerned individuals including him to take immediate and strict action to control the use of harmful agro chemicals in farming, responsible for raging kidney disease. "Not only he ignored our plea when the arsenic problem came up, but even resorted to blaming us at the time. He sided with agro chemical companies. Today, around 200,000 people suffering from chronic kidney disease are counting their days till death," the thera charged.
Explaining future plans, the thera noted that under new President Maithripala Sirisena, Sri Lanka should strive to become a country which practices environment friendly agriculture.
"In fact, we could become an example in this regard to the world as we have the resources and the indigenous knowledge. We can take a leaf out of the success achieved by countries like Cuba and Switzerland in this respect," he added.
The thera also observed that the number of narcotic drug users in the country during the former President's rule had grown exponentially.
While describing poverty as a burning issue not only in rural areas, but in some areas in Colombo as well, the thera noted that for petty politicians this has become a subject to exploit.
Ven. Athuriliye Rathana said this should be stopped forthwith and stern efforts should be made to improve the living standards of the poverty-stricken.
The thera was speaking at a ceremony on Monday to felicitate and invoke blessings on President Maithripala Sirisena organised by members of the Sadahamsevana International Buddhist Information Centre and Institute in Rajajagiriya in which the thera is the founder.
Speaking about the recent upheavals in the country's political landscape, Ven. Athuruliye said as the former President's rule took the wrong path, multiple efforts are being made to bring a righteous rule to the country once again.
"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice," he added.
The thera also noted that his organisation Pivithuru Hetak also played a leading role in changing the leadership of the country.
Ven. Athuruliye described how he and several like minded individuals including Minister Champika Ranawaka had galvanised the people at this end following the failure of the former President to respond to their demands for far reaching constitutional changes which included pruning down the powers vested with the Executive Presidency.
The thera noted that there were multiple efforts to attack him and even harm him physically and seize his temple premises by force.
The thera added that he and many others also might have ended up in jail if the former President had won another term.
Ven. Rathana Thera noted that people from all corners of the country, including the North and East came under one banner putting aside party, ethnic, religious and other differences to usher in a Maithri Era (era of loving kindness).
"People were now expecting the fruits of their labour and it was the prerogative of the new government to fulfill their wishes and needs."
Meanwhile, Ven Dr.Omalpe Sobitha Thera told the gathering that the country was in dire need of a leader who understood the importance of eradicating poverty and ending the arsenic problem, narcotic abuse and other social evils and that leader had emerged in the form of President Maithripala Sirisena.
The thera said the late highly revered Ven. Madihe Pannaseeha Thera had always wished that the two major political parties in the country and other parties should come together to take the country on the correct path and added that wish has become a reality today.
President Sirisena, the thera noted, had at the outset described what the role of a country's leader should be by telling the people that he was not king but a servant of the people.
The thera added that the 100 day programme of the new government had the potential to lead the country on a new path in ushering unity among all, equity in the distribution of economic development and good governance and a morally rich society.
~ www.dailynews.lk ~ By Rasika Somarathna