From a call to arms to tillers of soil

September 13, 2021

CSD’s 15th Anniversary Falls Today

In a decade and a half, the CSD is trained to contribute to the backbone of the nation’s economy

By Camelia Nathaniel

 

The Civil Security Department (CSD) celebrates its 15th Anniversary today. It was established as the National Home Guard Service which was a Voluntary Service in the mid 1980s set up to protect the threatened villages. They were initially armed with 12 bore shotguns and they protected the threatened villages which were liberated by the Armed Forces in order to prevent these villages from falling back into the hands of the LTTE. Those who served at that time were not paid anything for their services as it was a purely voluntary service. However, some rations were issued to them through cooperative outlets.

Subsequently, then President Mahinda Rajapaksa by Gazette notification No. 1462/20 dated September 13, 2006, re-structured the whole Home Guard Service and established the Civil Security Department. These home guards were also given training under the military. Currently, the CSD Headquarters is located in Katubedda with 24 regional headquarters throughout the country and five training schools.


CSD DG Major General (Rtd.)
Ranjan Lamahewage

Since then the CSD has come a long way and today comprises around 35,000 personnel with around 75 officers from the Tri Services also serving in command positions. Initially, two types of uniforms similar to military uniforms were issued. A reasonable salary was paid to the employees. The first Director General of the Civil Security Department was the current Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Rtd.) Sarath Weerasekara.

The CSD personnel were thereafter given the T-56 rifle to replace their shotguns and were entitled to a monthly wage. Subsequently, five others had headed the CSD and currently, Major General (Rtd.) Ranjan Lamahewage heads the CSD as Director General (DG). The CSD personnel are also entitled to a pension now upon retirement similar to the other Security Forces.

During the 30-year war, 545 CSD personnel had laid down their lives in the line of duty while 425 others were rendered disabled. After the war, the CSD was utilised by then Defence Secretary and current President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for development work and agriculture projects as many of the CSD personnel are from farming villages.

Currently, the CSD is engaged in agriculture, brick-making, animal husbandry, assisting the police in security and also has its own cultural and dance troupes. In addition, the CSD personnel maintains pre-schools for the village children and they have also deployed trained teachers to remote schools where there is a shortage of teachers.

In celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the CSD many religious and social events have been organized, including the commemoration of their fallen cadres and felicitating those who have contributed selflessly in safeguarding this country.

Speaking to the Daily News, the CSD Director General said that although the 15th anniversary is an important milestone for the CSD, due to the current situation in the country, celebrations would be low key.

Elaborating on the current projects handled by the CSD, Maj. Gen. Lamahewage said that the cashew estate in Kondachchi spanning around 900 acres is now managed by the CSD while another 500 acres is being prepared for cultivation. “Last year, 103,000 kgs of cashew was produced under the CSD and around Rs. 4.5 million profit from this project was given to the Treasury. The CSD is entrusted with the protection and maintenance of religious places and preservation of archaeological sites. In addition, we have also deployed around 5,000 personnel for the maintenance and security of electric fences as protection against elephants. Further, another 1,800 personnel have been deployed for security of state institutions and another 2,400 personnel have been deployed to assist the police in security matters.”

He also noted that last year the CSD had cultivated 2,200 acres of paddy around the country and 1,800 acres of maize. However, he said that the crops vary depending on the availability of water during each season. Other crops grown by the CSD are green gram, gingelly and other grains and vegetables.

The CSD Director General also noted that 95 percent of their cadres are stationed in the North Central Province while the CSD is least engaged in the South of the country. The reason for this is that most of the CSD personnel recruited were from threatened villages in the North Central Province during the war and thus, almost all their projects are also based in this region. The CSD also maintains the Vihara Maha Devi Park in Colombo, the Parliament grounds and Crow Island.

As per the vision of the President in creating an organic agriculture system in the country without the use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the CSD members are turning all agricultural projects into organic farms using only organic fertilizers. At present, the members of the Civil Defence Force have cultivated 2,187 acres of paddy lands throughout the country, amounting to Rs. 47 million in 2018, Rs. 89 million in 2019, Rs. 17 million in 2020 and Rs. 85 million so far this year. All their profits are handed over to the Treasury.

A total of 1,794 acres of maize has been planted and completed by 2021, with a revenue of Rs. 62 million in 2018, Rs. 48 million in 2019, Rs. 5 million in 2020 and Rs. 98 million so far in 2021 which has been credited to the Treasury.

In addition, 2,967 acres of other crops, fruits and vegetables are maintained and the harvest of previous years is Rs. 65 million in 2018, Rs. 66 million in 2019, Rs. 45 million rupees in 2020 and 69 million rupees in 2021 so far.

“Last year alone we have credited the Treasury with almost one billion rupees through the CSD projects. So far this year we have contributed Rs. 337 million to the Treasury,” the CSD Director General said.

The CSD has also proposed to utilize 3,320 acres as agricultural projects for the Maha season 2021/2022. The DG also said that the CSD is engaged in the promotion of local rice varieties. In addition, the CSD is also largely contributing to the production of organic fertilizer rendering their contribution to the Government’s drive to transform the country’s farming into organic cultivation.

On November 11, 2020, under the guidance of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister and Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Mahinda Rajapaksa, the foundation stone was laid for the Deegawapiya Stupa Reconstruction Project.

Accordingly, the flat courtyard, the womb and the rest house are expected to be completed at an early stage and a project is being planned to create an attractive environment in the surrounding area. Renovation work on the Stupa is expected to be completed within three years, following the recommendations of archaeologists and the Department of Archeology, under the direction of Defence Secretary General (Rtd.) Kamal Gunaratne.  

The CSD had deployed 120 personnel for this project, but when the new Director General Major General (Rtd.) Ranjan Lamahewa participated in overseeing the renovation work, the number of troops was increased to 350 as the number of troops assigned to expedite the project was not sufficient.

All the bricks required for this Stupa are manufactured with the labour contribution of the soldiers of the Civil Defence Department. One Civil Defence Force member produces 500 bricks a day, manufacturing a total of about 20,000 bricks a day. The sacred Deeghawapi Buddhist Temple is one of the major archeological sites in the Eastern Province and this land of archaeological value was built by King Saddhatissa.

Commenting on his future vision for the CSD, the Director General noted that while the Department has unskilled human resources, it lacks skilled human resources. “Therefore, I plan on further developing the CSD as a skilled force during my tenure and transforming it into a dignified force so that not just the cadre strength, but we would also possess a skilled labour force too which is better equipped to assist the President in reaching his vision for Sri Lanka,” he added.

Courtesy - www.dailynews.lk