Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and Founder of the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation, Merril J Fernando declared open the Centre for Dignified Empowerment and Sustainable Development in Kalkudah on Saturday (1).

The Centre is built on a 23 acre expanse of land at a cost of Rs. 1.2 billion by the MJF Charitable Foundation and will enable holistic community development for the Eastern Province. The Centre aims to uplift the livelihood of the low income families and the disabled; in the least developed areas of the Eastern Province.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Centre for Dignified Empowerment and Sustainable Development, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had said that, the Eastern Province should receive more support from the private sector to uplift the livelihood of the Easterners.

“When Batticaloa was hit by the war and the Tsunami, Merril J Fernando came forward to help the people of this area. He initiated many programmes to support and to uplift the affected communities. In introducing projects to grow cashew plants in the area, to help the disabled elders and the children and to help the small entrepreneurs, they serve the community in the East. This centre will be a helping hand to the people of this area,” the Prime Minister said.

The PM added that the Batticaloa District is a backward area and even after the war, the District has not seen much development, “Batticaloa is being developed now and we plan to make the process speedier,” the PM stated. He went on to say that infrastructure of the area will be developed and many development projects will be initiated.

The Centre will provide, free of charge, vocational training for the youth as well as the disabled in the Eastern Province. The Climate Change Facility will help the farmers of the area to identify drought resistant crops for cultivation. The Programmes within the Centre are to be phased out and optimum functionality is expected by September 2019.

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