Managing Disasters In The Hills
Government ministers representing the Nuwara Eliya District have failed to attend the disaster management meeting that was organised on Tuesday (21) at the Nuwara Eliya kachcheri to discuss the measures to be taken to avert natural disasters in the area and to provide relief for those who have been affected.
Ministers Arumugam Thondaman, C.B. Ratnayake and Navin Dissanayake and other governing party members have failed to attend the meeting, which was presided over by Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.
UNP MP Jaya Sri Ranga and Radhakrishnan were the only legislators to attend the meeting.
As soon as Amaraweera walked in to the meeting, Nuwara Eliya District Secretary Kumarasiri had asked if the meeting could be postponed for another day since government ministers like Thondaman and Ratnayake were not present.
An angry Amaraweera had then asked the District Secretary if the disasters were willing to wait till Thondaman decided to attend the meeting and if Thondaman was in a position to avert natural disasters from taking place in Nuwara Eliya.
Amaraweera had insisted that the meeting should continue as planned and had proceeded with it with the members who were present in the office. The Minister had said that he was currently making tours around the country, visiting the areas that were more prone to natural disasters, in order to take measures to try and minimise the disasters as well as to put in place a mechanism to address the issues faced by the people.
“I’m willing to listen and help the people, if the relevant districts do not make use of my visit I cannot help it,” Amaraweera had said.
During the meeting, the officials had pointed out to the Minister that the Nuwara Eliya District was in need of equipment that could monitor landslides and issue warnings before they happened. They have said that requests made for years have fallen on deaf ears.
Amaraweera had immediately released Rs. 6.5 million from his funds to purchase the equipment.
After the meeting, Amaraweera had summoned a press conference in Nuwara Eliya to inform the media of the progress made, with regard to addressing disasters in the area.
Amaraweera, Sri Ranga and Radhakrishnan attended the conference.
The District Secretary who was also asked to participate in the press conference had walked out of the room saying he had to answer a phone call from Additional Presidential Secretary Gamini Senarath.
UNP Portrays A United Front
The main opposition UNP is now taking great efforts to show unity among all factions with statements being made to the effect that everyone will work together to take the party to new heights.
In a bid to create an image of a formidable party, UNP legislators are busy making media statements to the effect that both Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and MP Sajith Premadasa, who is hopeful of taking over the party leadership, are working together to bring victory to the party.
Last week Wickremesinghe himself said that he, together with Premadasa, would work together to take the party to great heights.
UNP MP Harin Fernando even went to the extent of saying that disgruntled governing party legislators including several senior ministers were engaged in discussions with the UNP to join the party.
It is learnt that several senior government ministers have expressed their displeasure at the manner in which they are being treated in the government and that they were looking at moving out.
Although these senior ministers have openly discussed their issues with several UNP seniors, they are yet to make a final decision on whether or not to join the UNP.
Premadasa for his part has also stated his willingness to work together to uplift the party. However, he has not announced any decision on not fighting for the party leadership.
While many media reports have been published about various proposals and secret discussions that are being held with regard to the appointment of members to senior posts in the party, the Premadasa faction has not yet made any final decision on the matter.
One Secretary For Ten ‘Seniors’
The government has decided to assign one secretary to oversee the functions of the ten senior ministers.
The 10 senior ministers who were appointed last month are yet to receive their promised offices that are to be located at the former Public Services Commission building in Colpetty. The senior ministers have been informed that their offices would be ready by this week, in order to facilitate them to commence their work before the end of the year.
However, the senior ministers are not too hopeful of receiving their respective offices in time before the end of the year. Disgruntled with the present situation where they are unaware of exactly what their assigned duties are, the senior ministers are now confused with the latest decision by the government to assign them with one secretary. The senior ministers have been informed that while they will be assigned one secretary, several additional secretaries would be appointed to coordinate the work of each minister. This decision has left many senior ministers confused. A senior minister on the basis of anonymity said that he had no idea as to how the whole mechanism was supposed to work.
“We will just have to wait and see,” he said
Efforts To Muster Support
Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Minister Douglas Devananda is now a man in need of friends.
Following the pressure placed on him by the Indian judiciary and the issues faced by him in the local political arena, Devananda is trying to muster support from the media to help his cause. In order to score some brownie points, Devananda had organised a get-together with the media at his residence in Layards Road, Bambalapitiya on Friday (17). The party which kicked off at around 7 pm, had continued till about 11 p.m.
During the get-together, Devananda had lamented over the difficulties faced by him.
Devananda has been affected by the government moves to introduce a new Tamil political leadership to the Northern Province. With the government announcing its plans to call for Northern Provincial Council elections next year, he is well aware that time is limited for him to garner support.
Devananda had told several media personnel at the gathering that he was only against the LTTE and Prabhakaran and not against a political solution for the ethnic issue. He had said that there was no change in his policies as he continued to support a self-rule policy.
Minority Communities To Form Joint Forum
The minority communities in the country continue to agitate for solutions for their grievances. The minority communities are of the view that even though the war has ended, the ethnic issue is yet to be addressed.
The main Muslim party in the country, SLMC, has also decided to join with the Tamil political parties to form a joint set of proposals on a political solution to the ethnic conflict. Several Tamil political parties have already formed a joint forum with the intention of formulating and presenting to the government a set of proposals to solve the ethnic issue within two months. The TNA however is not a member of the joint forum of Tamil political parties.
Member parties of the joint forum are currently discussing with the TNA the possibility of the Alliance joining it. Meanwhile, the SLMC has expressed its desire to join the Tamil political parties in finding a solution to the ethnic issues. SLMC Leader Rauf Hakeem and TNA Leader R. Sampanthan are currently holding discussions on forming an alliance based on finding a solution to the ethnic issue.
JVP Loses Control Of V FM
The management of the JVP owned V FM radio station has been taken over by a new group, with a new managing director taking over the reigns of the radio station.
The launch of the new V FM was held on Wednesday (22) at the Atrium Lobby of the Cinnamon Grand. The JVP commenced Lanka Television Network (Pvt) Limited to manage the radio station with funds received from the party’s branch in Japan. However, with the defection of former JVP Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa to the government in 2008, the JVP’s branch in Japan also shifted its allegiance to Weerawansa. With the Japanese funding coming to an end, the JVP found it difficult to find the necessary finances to operate V FM.
After a series of discussions, the management of V FM has now been taken over by a Singapore based company with Ruwan Sugathadasa being appointed as the new managing director of the radio station. Following the change in the management, there has also been a change in the staff at the radio station.