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Lanka studying panchayati system
Rajapakse opens Asian Mayors’ conference
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, November 26
Sri Lanka will adopt an all-party approach to end its ethnic strife, said Mr Mahinda Rajapakse, President of Sri Lanka, inaugurating the first Asian Mayors conference here today. He was on a four-day visit to India.

Stating that this century belonged to South Asia, he called for a consensual approach to deal with trans-national problems.

Without directly referring to Sri Lanka's unending ethnic conflict, he stated,"We have a memorandum of understanding between the government and the main opposition to work towards a consensus on the solution to our ethnic problem".

Delivering the inaugural address, Mr Rajapakse said this century would witness the transformation of Asia from being a largely rural economy to an urban economy.

Applauding the reforms in India’s panchayati raj system, particularly those brought about by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, he held that these reforms devolved powers more effectively to local communities. "We are studying India's panchayati raj experience to take some lessons from it."

He said many towns were now multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural in nature. The challenge was to craft an inclusive approach so that all these diverse groups could join together and evolve a consensus on the vital issue faced by their towns.

"A similar approach is being followed by the government in Sri Lanka for the past one year. Not only with regard to the urban problems, but also with regard to our national problem,” he added.

He further asked the Mayors to be patient to see results.

“Some people will complain that progress is slow. They don’t realise that wound cannot be healed in a day,” he added.

Earlier, Ms Manorma Dobriyal Sharma, Mayor of Dehradun and convener of the Asian Mayor’s conference and chairperson of the All-India Council of Mayors, stated that though the geographical distance between the rural and urban was diminishing in terms of availability of infrastructure, the rural-urban gap was widening. She hoped that the Doon declaration at the end of the three-day conference would cover issues like protection of environment, better civic amenities for the public, public co-operation, social harmony, etc.

The three day conference, being organised by the All-India Council of Mayors on “Changing concepts in urban management”, has about 40 delegates participating from across Asia, a majority of them are from Sri Lanka.

The conference aims at covering some burning issues of vital importance to development of sustainable urban environments, including energy, transport, waste management, water management and waste water treatment. 



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