President Maithripala Sirisena had not tolerated drug cartels under his Good Governance Government, unlike former President Mahinda Rajapaksa did during his regime, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said yesterday.
He added that during the Rajapaksa regime, mobs, moonshine dealers and drug kingpins were protected, while those unaffiliated with the state were suppressed and persecuted.
He was addressing a gathering following the inauguration of several development projects in the Kataragama area.
The minister said that there were allegations that drug-related offences were currently on the rise, while ministers and parliamentarians had been aiding and abetting mobs and drug cartels. The minister challenged anyone to prove that those allegations were in fact true.
"If a minister or MP were to commit such an offence, the government would take immediate action against them," Minister Ranawaka said.
The minister added that the highest number of crimes recorded in the country had been committed in 2013, during the Rajapaksa regime, when Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was the Secretary of Defence.
"The number of crimes in 2013 was 55,000, which included murders, abductions and drug-trafficking," Minister Ranawaka said, "But the number of crimes in 2017 had dropped to 30,000."
He said that people were not murdered on roads in broad day light, adding that at present, there were no white vans to abduct people, similar to the situation during the previous regime.
The minister opened several shopping stalls at Sellakataragama, visited the Selalkataragama park and laid the the foundation stones for the Sellakataragama Mahasen Temple's entrance to commence the third phase of the Entrance Square to the Kataragama.
Minister Ranawaka said that the construction of the Selalkataragama park was nearing completion ad was estimated to cost Rs. 50 million. He added Rs. 500 million would be spent to develop the Kataragama area.
Three hundred shopping stalls were currently being constructed in Kataragama to replace the old, he said, adding that no political affiliations would be considered when the shops would completed. Owners of the stalls that were removed would be provided with new stalls, irrespective of their political affiliations, the minister said.
Sanitary issues in the Kataragama area would also be resolved during the following year, he said.
"The Moneragala district is the poorest district in the country. Therefore, we would pay special attention to develop this area systematically," Minister Ranawaka said.
Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara also participated in the event.