Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I took the pic above after I had transported a pick up full of school children from various places on the road to their school near the Dimbulagala Temple at 6.30 am on Friday October 26th a lovely time for a drive.I left home when all my staff were still asleep.
Some kids have to walk a long way to the bus halt to take the school bus, through footpaths across rice paddies.There are many farming communities in this newly opened zone where landless peasants were given farmland as part of the Mahaweli scheme.
Actually the facts are not what they seem.Many people got state land from political patronage and hence do not work the land or do they in some cases know exactly where there land is as they live as far away as Kandy.They have given the land to landless farmers who have built shacks in the fields and work the land for a rent paid in the form of paddy to the owner. The owner therefore gets a free rent for doing nothing out of land he got free from the government while the landless peasant farms this for his income. That is the reality. Some of these kids are here. Some leave home without breakfast and are provided some hot meal at school.
Hundreds of thousands of acres have been opened up but there are vast swathes of uncultivated land that just had its timber plundered and land left fallow.All part of the bureaucracy that is the Mahaweli scheme. Of course there are many positive examples too mainly those of very hard working farmers who have diligently and intelligently cultivated and profited while there are as many whose dreams have been shattered by a combination of bad luck bad weather or alcohol dependency.