Government recently outlawed employing under aged children to
sell lotteries. But selling lottery tickets are not the only business
children are used in. As the picture shows children are being used for
hard manual labour that even adults would find
Photo by Berty Mendis
In the event of forming a government
to share portfolios with SLFP
Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) will accept portfolios in a future government
they may form with the main opposition party, the Sri Lanka Freedom
General Secretary, Tilwin Silva told The Sunday Leader that the
JVP had tried directing the People’s Alliance (PA) through a
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) two years ago, but this time the JVP
presence in the SLFP would make it “strong and decisive.”
agreement between the two political parties is to be clinched this week.
means that we would be key players in any future government with the
SLFP, and it means sharing responsibilities such as ministries and other
things that come with it,” Silva said.
JVP has held a series of discussions with the SLFP in the recent past
and has decided to form an alliance “for peace and betterment of the
country” shortly, as “the country’s sovereignty was at stake.”
thought has gone into this decision and the United National Front (UNF)
government has failed to deliver in all areas including the peace
process, which is beneficial only to the LTTE. We want to save the
sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, and that requires
us to work with other political parties within a broad alliance,” he
however said that he was not certain about any other political parties
willing to join forces with the new alliance yet, but promised “swift
political action” that would benefit the people when the JVP-SLFP
alliance is formed.
JVP founder leader Rohana Wijeweera himself had an unofficial alliance
with the United Front government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike in the ’70s
in their attempt to capture political power.
JVP that entered mainstream politics in June 1994 after the government
lifted the ban on the party, quickly built itself to be the third
political force in the country. In 2001 they signed a MoU with the
People’s Alliance government to pressurise the administration to ease
the burdens placed on the public, following which prices of several
essential items were reduced.
first was an attempt to put a capitalist government back on a
‘socialist track’ to serve the people,” Silva said, explaining
that this time around, the JVP would have considerable leverage in
Kumaratunga who enjoys the exclusive constitutional power to dissolve
parliament, it is learned is considering dissolution and has a common
platform with the JVP. In this backdrop, Interior Minister John
Amaratunga has placed an intelligence report before
cabinet detailing the activities of the JVP including its former
militants being included in the party politburo,
including General Secretary Tilwin Silva and their network with
trade unions, political parties and student bodies throughout the
judges petition against CJ
judges from the high court, district court and magistrate’s court have
petitioned Speaker Joseph Michael Perera seeking redress over their
termination from the courts and victimisation by Chief Justice Sarath N.
nine judges say that some of them were terminated during the last one
year without any inquiry and others after pseudo inquiries that served
prepared agendas. The petition was handed over to the Speaker last week.
judges say that these cases in fact formed part of the basis of the
impeachment motion presented to the Speaker by the UNP during its time
in the opposition. Chief Justice Sarath Silva is the ex-officio Chairman
of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), which is in charge of
appointments and disciplinary control of the judges (district judges and
magistrates and transfer of high court judges).
nine disgruntled former judges assert that ever since Silva became the
Chief Justice and Chairman JSC, “he was personally instrumental in
getting rid of judges towards whom he was ill disposed as the Attorney
General or influenced by political personalities.”
charge that the CJ has misused and abused his office to summarily
dismiss some of the judges forthwith from service by threatening them
that he would
get them remanded or criminally prosecute them in courts.
International Bar Association in 2001 compiled a report on allegations
relating to the Chief Justice and after conducting an independent
investigation, reiterated grave concern on the issue that judges had
been removed from the bench by the Chief Justice without proper recourse
to an inquiry or disciplinary hearing.
The nine judges
say that some of the arbitrary and unlawful acts committed by the Chief
Justice are: having issued circulars to judges threatening them with
disciplinary action for not complying with his interference in court
hearings; that Sarath Silva has resorted to disciplinary action against
judges who have given judgments against the Attorney General's
Department; that the Chief Justice has taken action against judges based
on complaints made to him by politicians and wyers close to him; that he
has victimised judges who made judicial orders that did not find favour
with him; that Silva has maintained two lists of judges - one composed
of his personal favourites and the other composed of those who were not.
allege that the Chief Justice appoints his favourites to key positions
irrespective of their seniority.
complainants are, Mahanama Thilakaratne (Ex-High Court Judge), H. W.
Liyanage. (Ex-District Judge), C. Hegoda. (Ex-District Judge), D. M.
Siriwardhana (Ex-District Judge), S. P. Bandaranayake (Ex-District
Judge), D. M. T. B. Dissanayake. (Ex-District Judge), S. W. Surendran
(Ex-Magistrate), L. C. Costa (Ex-Magistrate) and Hiran Ekanayake
private zoo at Mirigama
on Sri Lanka’s first officially sanctioned private zoo is due to
commence shortly at Bajjangoda, near Mirigama. Built on a 200-acre site,
the new zoo will include a butterfly park and have both Sri Lankan and
foreign animals on display. A novel aspect of the zoo will be a night
safari, which will be among the first of its kind in the SAARC region.
Another new feature will be accommodation facilities for tourists who
will be given an opportunity to live among the animals, in a wild
environment. For the first time in Sri Lanka, zoo animals will be
maintained in large, open naturally-landscaped enclosures, rather than
in cages as in the Dehiwala Zoo. This is said to be a concept that is
endorsed by animal rights groups such as SPAR and Sathva Mithra.
novel BoI approved concept is the brainchild of veteran zoologist and
former director of Zoological Gardens, Dr. Lyn de Alwis, who later went
on to establish the famous zoo at Changi, in Singapore.
de Alwis, who has also served as director, Wildlife Conservation and
special advisor to the President on wildlife, is widely acknowledged to
be one of the best zoo designers in the world.
involves a total investment of almost US$ 2 million, much of which will
come from overseas.
The project is
promoted locally by Biopark Developers Ltd., who expect the new zoo will
attract over 600,000 visitors currently patronising the national zoos
each year, both at Dehiwala and at Pinnawela.
have predicted that the Bajjangoda Zoo will be among the best in Asia.
Competition from the new zoo is also expected to help raise the standard
of the Dehiwala zoo.
to continue hunger strike
staging a hunger strike have rejected a plea from a government
delegation headed by Peace Secretariat Chief Bernard Gunatilleke, to
give up their fast.
visited the Kalutara prison along with the Mannar Bishop and the legal
advisor to the Peace Secretariat where 58 inmates have been on a hunger
strike since March 1. The delegation has requested the strikers to give
up their fast promising that a decision would be taken within 10 days.
But the prisoners The Sunday Leader learns have refused to agree to this
Those on the
hunger strike are those arrested during the Eelam war and were suspected
of having links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
They are mostly
from the Northern Province and are
demanding that they be transferred to their native areas.
demand that their cases be heard in northern courts instead of being
heard in the Colombo courts.
There are over
200 inmates in the Kalutara prison and 58 are on a hunger strike says
Commissioner of Prisons Upali Dharmabandu. He says all 58 inmates are
LTTE suspects held in remand.
In a move to
ease the tension and to look into the plight of the prisoners, the
Bishop of Mannar Rt.Rev Rayappu Joseph along with Bernard Gunatilleke
and Legal Advisor to the Peace Secretariat Harsha Fernando held talks
with the prisoners last Friday.
Assistant Prison Superintendent Kalutara, S. Boteju they are awaiting a
report from this delegation in order to take action.
Political Wing Leader of the LTTE S.P. Thamilchelvan in a television
interview last week said he saw no reason to hold these persons accused
of having LTTE links. He said it was 'wrong' and 'unfair' for the
government to continue to treat these men as LTTE suspects when the
peace process is going on.
He also said
the action of the government could not be justified at a time when the
LTTE itself is involved in holding peace negotiations with the
chief justice and the judicial system came under scathing attack from
Dato Param Cumaraswamy, the UN special rapporteur who at a press
conference in Colombo recently said he was "shocked" and
"stunned" by Sri Lanka's Chief Justice Sarath Silva hearing a
case against himself.
referring to a case where the Supreme Court, on February 6, decided to
jail for one year a human rights activist, Anthony Fernando who
challenged Sarath Silva for sitting on the bench to hear a case where
the Chief Justice himself had been named as a respondent.
case as being "bizarre", Cumaraswamy said that he was not
interested in dealing with the merits of the case but stated, " the
question here is to find out whether it is proper for the Chief Justice
after having been made a party to a case to sit on the panel and
adjudicate in the matter."
Anthony Fernando was jailed he was beaten up by prison guards and has
been in hospital since then. Cumaraswamy said he visited the victim in
hospital and that Fernando had been chained to his bed.
Hitting out at
the Sri Lanka Bar Association, Cumaraswamy said, "I want the Bar
Association of Sri Lanka to wake up, have the courage to take up the
cause of this man without demanding guarantees that they will be not he
hauled up for contempt of court."
He added that
people go to courts for justice, not for injustice and that his main
concern was not only the independence of the judiciary but also the
accountability of the judges.
change in SLMC team
There will not
be any change in the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) delegation for the
next round of talks to be held in Japan beginning March 18, highly
placed government sources said.
that the government is not keen to bring in any changes as demanded by a
section of the Muslim community.
the same team headed by Ports Minister Rauf Hakeem will be participating
at the next round of talks as well.
Perera to report on CEB
Energy Minister Karu Jayasuriya last Friday appointed a high powered
independent committee headed by former treasury secretary and chairman
of the 1995 salaries commission, B.C.Perera, to inquire into and submit
a report on the promotions and salary anomalies of the electrical,
technical and civil superintendents of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).
appointed Ronnie Weerakoon, one time Sri Lanka Tea Board chairman and
Kuda Banda Warnasuriya who was the director special projects of the
Mahaweli Authority as the other members of the committee.
advised the committee to study the grievances submitted by the trade
unions of the electrical, technical and civil superintendents of the CEB
with regard to their salary anomalies, service promotions and other
demands and forward recommendations within 60 days.
wants SLT to reconsider tariff hike
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Ravi Karunanayake has requested Sri Lanka
Telecom (SLT) Chairman Thilanga Sumathipala to reconsider his decision
to increase call charges by 250%.
Karunanayake accused SLT of placing an unbearable burden on the consumer
adding that the proposed increase is even worse than the price increase
of Shell gas.
also adds that when such increases are contemplated the interest of the
consumers should be uppermost in the chairman's mind.
further states that the intention of forming SLT was to facilitate
competition and provide adequate and affordable services. The Minister
views the present decision to jack up tariffs as 'unfortunate and
In a letter
addressed to the SLT Chairman the Minister has stated that the cost of
telecommunication services has been decreasing internationally but
unfortunately tariff rates in Sri Lanka have gone up sharply over the
last few years and the consumer has had to face much hardship.
also states that any further increase cannot be justified under any
adds that in a competitive market the land telephone charges should
remain at a stable and
reasonable level and reduction in tariffs of both local as well as
international calls would be advisable.
engine for Kalumunai
government has gifted a fire engine worth Rs. 4 million to the Kalmunai
was made to mark 50 years of friendship between Sri Lanka and Japan.
Rauf Hakeem asked for a fire engine after the computer unit in the South
Eastern University was devastated by fire recently. The donation was
made on the instructions of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The
fire engine was handed over to the Ports Minister by Foreign Minister
Tyronne Fernando last Friday.
A tender called
last month by the Rehabilitation, Refugees and Resettlement Ministry for
a vessel to ship military items to the north has been stalled following
a directive by the Premier that such tenders must be handled only by the
Ceylon Shipping Corporation and its Chairman, M. J. M. Muzammil cried
foul, alleging that the Rehabilitation Ministry had altered tender
specifications to suit a competitor.
Leader discovered that tender specifications had indeed been altered,
effectively preventing the CPC owned ship the Lanka Muditha from winning
Ranil Wickremesinghe has since ordered all tenders to be handled only by
the relevant ministry and in this case since the items to be shipped to
the north are for the military only, the tender would be handled by the
Secretary, Austin Fernando said that Rehabilitation Ministry Secretary,
A. Jeyaratnam has already informed him that this tender would no longer
be handled by Rehabilitation Minister Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena and his Ministry. Fernando, however, asserted that since the
tender had already been called for and bids evaluated the Defence
Ministry did not have sufficient time to call for a fresh tender. The
present contract with the Ceylon Shipping Corporation has already
He said the
cargo would continue to be carried by the CPC's Lanka Muditha until
the Defence Ministry is in a position to call for fresh tenders.
meanwhile asserted that the government is not in a position to favour
Chairman of Master Divers A. Wickremanayake. Wickremanayake insists he
should not be deprived of carrying cargo to the north, since he did so
at the height of the war and at the invitation of President Chandrika
told The Sunday Leader that "tender or no tender I have been a true
patriot and my contribution towards ensuring that goods were carried to
the north at the worst of times should not be forgotten.
The government must ensure that my business is not
bid for this tender has been the highest.
ruled out any possibility of the government granting any special
concessions to Master Divers. "We
will continue to call for tenders and award them to the best
bidder," he said.
women die daily in childbirth - UNICEF
conducted by UNICEF has revealed that around 1400 women die each day
from causes related to childbirth - 99 per cent of them from developing
More women die
from the complications resulting from childbirth in developing countries
than from any other cause, UNICEF said last week, calling the figures
"a shameful record of discrimination and apathy toward women and
their rights." International
Women's Day was celebrated yesterday around the world.
this International Women's Day, we're speaking for the girls and women
who aren't alive to tell their stories, and for their orphaned children.
We're speaking for the girls and women who are fighting for their lives
right now, for those shut out from education, and for the millions who
are exploited or discriminated against.
here to say that in this era, no woman should have to struggle for
equality and respect. No woman should have to shoulder the disadvantage
of being denied an education. And no girl or woman should die in the
process of giving birth," the report issued by UNICEF stated.
mortality rates alone do not reveal the full scale of the tragedy. For
every woman who dies from complications related to childbirth,
approximately 30 more suffer injuries, infections, and disabilities
which are usually untreated and not
spoken of. An estimated 300 million women today - or a quarter of the
women in the developing world - have sustained serious and long lasting
problems during pregnancy and childbirth.
A conflict has
arisen between animal rights activists and the Colombo Municipal Council
over the growing number of stray dogs seen in Colombo City.
council members pointed out that they have to answer to the public about
the eradication of stray dogs although there has not been an order given
to them by the municipality in this regard.
Leader learns that Colombo Mayor Prasanna Gunawardena along with animal
rights activists, are personally involved in safeguarding the lives of
canines although the public is against this.
conflict between these two parties is on, Interior Minister John
Amaratunga has said he would order the law enforcement authorities to
shoot stray dogs that threaten the lives of the public.
The media units
attached to various ministries are apparently misusing the right to hold
media accreditation cards.
operators are now using the cards that are specifically meant for media
Leader is in possession of an accreditation card application form where
a web designer attached to the Ministry of Rehabilitation and
Resettlement has applied for a media card. Jeyasingam Godwin
Thusyantha's application form has been approved by Director Media,
Ministry of Rehabilitation M.S.Satheesh Kumar.
approved by Satheesh Kumar is one that is meant for the journalists of
print and electronic media.
progress under MoU - PAFFREL
Alliance for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) has said in a report on
the peace process, that although the preamble to the ceasefire agreement
states that the overall objective is to find a solution to the ongoing
ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, the agreement itself seeks to implement
confidence building measures as indicated in Articles 1-4.
agreement does not indicate the political issues to be addressed in
order to find a political solution to the ethnic conflict," states
PAFFREL's Situation Report on the signing of the ceasefire agreement on
22 February 2002, which was issued last Friday (7).
states that the implementation of the ceasefire agreement can be
assessed under three headings-violations,
implementation of obligation's of parties to the agreement, and
settlements reached outside the agreement.
critically notes that
violations of the ceasefire agreement take place even after 11 months
since the signing of the agreement and but adds that military operations
referred to in Article 1 of the ceasefire agreement have ceased almost
such as abduction and assassination of government security forces have
been reported, both in and outside the north east. Security forces have
expressed concern over the disappearance and abduction of personnel
attached to the intelligence units of the armed forces," the report
It has pointed
out that hostile acts against the civilian population, such as
abduction, extortion and harassment have continued in varying degrees
over the 11 month period, despite assurances given by the LTTE to the
Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission and human rights organisations operating in
cessation of such acts is important for restoring normalcy to all
inhabitants of Sri Lanka, and to promote human rights. Many instances of
LTTE cadres moving about carrying arms and transporting military
equipment in vehicles and boats have been reported.
of harassment by the LTTE of some Tamil parties such as EPDP, EPRLF and
PLOTE engaged in legitimate political activities, have been reported,
even though the LTTE itself has been allowed to engage in political
activities in government controlled areas," the report further
party offices and EPDP controlled pradeshiya sabha buildings have been
reported to be damaged," it added.
has also pointed out that the UNF government on its part, has met
most of the obligations in the ceasefire agreement. It notes that
security forces have vacated all schools and religious places where army
camps had been located and set up camps at alternate sites.
government has allowed the unimpeded flow of non-military goods to and
from LTTE dominated areas with the exception of certain specified items.
Most checkpoints in government controlled areas, and in the south have
been removed, to facilitate the flow of goods and the movement of
roads, including the Kandy-Jaffna road have been opened. Most fishing
restrictions have been removed. LTTE members have been allowed to enter
government controlled areas for the purpose of political work.
signing of the ceasefire agreement, the government has refrained from
conducting military operations and arrests under the Prevention of
Terrorism Act. Arrests are now made only in accordance with the Criminal
armed groups have been disarmed. Harassment of civilians by the security
forces has been minimised. Those found guilty are charged and
punished," the report prepared by PAFFREL observed.
It also said
that the LTTE has met some obligations fully and some obligations in
varying degrees of compliance. It has noted that there is total
cessation of military action in
the north-east and the south, except some incidents of abduction
referred to under 'violations.'
has cooperated with the government in reopening main roads and reducing
check points. Unarmed government troops have been allowed unlimited
passage between Jaffna and Vavuniya using the A9 road. The flow of non
military goods to and from LTTE controlled areas has been allowed
without unnecessary restrictions. The LTTE has also co-operated with the
SLMM and other monitoring committees.
however, failed to meet its obligations in the area of hostile acts
against the civilian population. Incidents of abduction, child
recruitment extortion, taxing, and harassment have been reported.
the right to political work in government controlled areas, granted to
the LTTE, has been reported at times,"
the report further observes.
Alliance parliamentarian and former Parliamentary Affairs
Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle has vowed to take up his case regarding
being asked to leave the High Court hearing the Udathalawinna case by a
presiding judge, in parliament, if the chief justice fails to reply his
letter to him outlining the course
of action against the judge.
The member of
parliament, who is also an attorney at law, was ordered to leave the
court on February 18, when he went to attend the Udathalawinna case.
cited by the judge who wanted Fernandopulle out of the court was that he
was not attired properly while occupying the bar table meant for
The case was
presided over by a
three-bench jury under the chairmanship of Justice Eric Basnayake.
According to information received the judge was only acting
according to suggestions made by Justice Sunil Rajapakse who was also on
the bench. The third judge was Deepali Wijesundera.
8 of the gazette, Fernandopulle says "attorneys at law appearing in
the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal shall also wear a black
gown." He says there is no law that a lawyer who goes to attend a
case and occupies the bar table has to wear a gown.
In a hard
hitting letter addressed to the Chief Justice, Fernandopulle has said
that in terms of the 'Attire of judges and attorneys at law rules 1978,'
published in the extraordinary gazette No. ¬ of 7/9/1978, the attire
for attorneys at law other than women
attorneys at law shall be black coat and dark or white trousers and
black tie, or white national costume or black, sherwani with dark or
to article 8 of the said rules, attorneys at law appearing in the
Supreme Court and Court of Appeal shall also wear a black gown," he
He has further
stated; "Although the rules specifically refer to the attire that
should be worn by the judges of the High Court (see Article 3.5 of the
said rules) no reference is made regarding the necessity of wearing a
cloak in the High Court by an attorney at law."
He has further
stated in his letter that the comments of the said judge at the trial at
bar were made in the presence of the members of the profession, law
students, more than 10 members of parliament, the press and the public
and that such comments have caused him grave pain of mind and
comments which were not warranted in law would adversely affect me in my
future political career," he has said.
who says he has appeared in more than 20,000 cases told The Sunday
Leader, that if he fails to receive a positive answer from the chief
justice, he would take up this matter in parliament shortly.
detainees - Bishop
Mannar, Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph, has said in a statement that the
launching of a hunger strike by Tamil political detainees in the
Kalutara prison would disrupt the ongoing peace process. Release of
detainees in prisons should be taken up at the negotiating table, he has
the Bishop, the release of detainees and the repeal of the Prevention of
Terrorism Act should be taken up at the negotiations between the LTTE
and the government.
Secretary M. Vaiko, has written to Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari
Vajpayee not to concede to the Sri Lankan government's proposal to
construct a bridge between Rameswaram and Thalaimannar, in place of the
Sethu Samudram project.
understand that the government of India is planning to make an initial
survey about this project proposed by Sri Lanka. If such a bridge is
planned, scuttling the wider scope of Sethu canal, it will be a grave
injustice to the people of Tamil Nadu," he has said in his letter.
meeting of new sub committee
meeting of the Sub-committee for the Welfare and Rehabilitation of War
Affected Women and Children took place in Kilinochchi on Wednesday and
Thursday at the Peace Secretariat of the LTTE, sources said.
in the meeting presided over by Dr. Astrid Heiberg, was Kjeresti
Tromsdel, an official from the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo, five
representatives of the government of Sri Lanka and five representatives
of the LTTE.
Jayawardena, a specialist in human rights and women's rights, Dr.Deepika
Udagama, Professor of Law at Colombo University, Kumudini Samuel, human
rights advocate, Faizoon Zakariya, and Dr.Fazeela Riyas, medical doctor
from Batticaloa represented the government.
An estimated 76
fishermen from the Ramanathapuram coast in the Indian state of Tamil
Nadu were detained by the Sri Lankan government last Monday night.
Just 13 of them
were released late Tuesday. Their boats are still in Sri Lankan custody,
according to informed sources.
lifted a ban imposed in 1983 on fishing in its northern waters after the
Norway-brokered peace agreement was reached between the government and
incident was reportedly the fourth clash this year. In January
the Sri Lanka Navy arrested 36 Indian fishermen.
requests Thonda's assistance
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne has requested financial assistance from Housing
and Estate Infrastructure Minister Arumugam Thondaman to set up a
library for the children in the plantation sector.
Senaratne in a letter addressed to the Housing Minister has said that he
is prepared to allocate a suitable plot of land from the Kalutara
district for the purpose, and all the guidelines to complete the
He has further
said that the mayor of Kalutara has also given his consent to provide
the location, and to maintain the library at the expense of the
politicians in the Kalutara District have made representations to me
regarding the necessity of a library for the children of the plantation
sector. They highlighted to me the need specially of Tamil students
wanting to pursue higher studies. I shall be very thankful if you could
provide a financial component from your allocation meant to develop
estate infrastructure," the letter stated.
Airlines has won three SLIM awards at the recent advertising awards. The
airline won three gold medals for the best print media ad, best
corporate advertising, and the best point of sale material, a release
also won a gold medal for social responsibility and public service and a
bronze for their button campaign for cargo.
corporate objective has been to establish the airline as a top and
international carrier. We have been working towards this with a series
of image building advertising, both above and below the line. The
calendar has always been a premium give-away for the airline. This
year's calendar is a classic example of such corporate image
building," the Airline's Advertising Manager, Priya Epitawela has
stated in the release.
memory of Richard
A prize is to
be awarded in memory of journalist, writer and human rights activist the
late Richard de Zoysa.
Ajith Saravanamuttu, the settler of the fund, the 'Richard de Zosya
Prize', will be a substantial cash award of approximately Rs. 30,000 and
is to be awarded annually from this year to a student of the upper
school of S. Thomas' College, of which Richard was a distinguished
This is being
awarded in accordance with the last wish of Richard's late mother, Dr.
Mrs. Manorani Saravanamuttu.
plan eases congestion
congestion on Galle Road that vexed civilians and vehicle owners finally
seems to be easing. With the introduction of a pilot project last week
by the Highways Ministry with the assistance of the traffic police,
vehicle and bus operators and commuters now find it more convenient to
travel during rush hours.
to The Sunday Leader, a lady who travels from Panadura to Colombo
2 said on a normal day it took her one hour and ten minutes to complete
the journey. However, two days back she arrived in her office in Colombo
2 within an hour.
to commuters using the Galle Road, the worst congested areas were
Bambalapitiya to Kollupitiya and Mount Lavinia to Wellawatte. However,
traffic started moving
smoothly during peak hours after the implementation of the plan that
restricts the parking of vehicles by the roadside during rush-hour.
took me half an hour to get from Bambalapitiya to Kollupitiya on a week
day. But on Thursday, I arrived at office within 15 minutes,” Nalika
Seneviratne said. However, between 5.00 and 6.00 p.m. traffic congestion
was still evident.
van drivers using the Galle Road had mixed feelings regarding the new
plan. Commenting on the flow of traffic, one driver said that it was
relatively smooth. He however thought it was unreasonable for the
traffic police to prevent people from parking even for five minutes by
I have to park miles away just to buy a small item from a shop on Galle
Road. Therefore, I feel the traffic police should give us a grace period
of at least five minutes — that can’t really hurt anybody,” the
another company driver said it was only fair to apply the same rule to
everybody. “Others are inconvenienced just like us. So we shouldn’t
be complaining since this project was implemented while taking into
consideration the welfare of all parties.”
communique issued by police headquarters said that as part of the pilot
project, parking on the seaside from 7.00 a.m. to 12 noon and on the
landside from 12 noon to 7 p.m. in areas covering the Galle Face
roundabout up to the Maliban junction in Ratmalana and from Duplication
Road to the Liberty roundabout in Colpetty will be strictly prohibited.
to SI Janaka Senadheera, the pilot project is showing good signs of
easing the traffic congestion in Colombo. “We believe that many road
accidents will be prevented by such a move. Right now it is the
pedestrians and push cyclists who suffer the most,” Senadheera said.
change in accidents in last two years
statistics maintained at the traffic police headquarters, an estimated
8,398 accidents have taken place in 2002. The figure for 2001 was 8,386.
The number of deaths due to road accidents by buses in 2001
was 430 and in 2002 it was 398. The number of grievous accidents by
buses in 2001 was 631, while in 2002 it added upto 696.
According to SI Senadheera, the number of non grievous
accidents by buses in 2001 was 1,768 and in 2002 it numbered 2,104.
Vehicles damaged in accidents with no loss to human life was reported as
5,557 in 2001 and 5,200 in 2002.
The private bus offences recorded for 2002 were 2,382 for
dangerous driving, 411 for drunk driving, 4,375 for pedestrian crossing
violations and 23,895 for licence violations.
Meanwhile, 17,658 cases were reported for speeding violations
and 37,593 for road rules violations. Smoke emission violations numbered
1,090 while other minor offences totalled 4,532,000.
Day dampens anti-war cry
Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
which fell yesterday (Saturday) dampened the anti war demonstration
organised by the Alliance for the Protection of Natural Resources and
Human Rights (APNRHR) against the anticipated US led attack on Iraq.
is an alliance of 100 organisations and unions. Trade unions of
privatised institutions hold membership in this alliance.
to Secretary, Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reforms,
Sarath Fernando, representatives from the fisheries sector, plantation,
farming, etc. were expected to take part in the anti war demonstration.
He explained that this anti war demonstration was part of the global
protest organised against an imminent war on Iraq.
observed that they expected at least 2,000 demonstrators, but the fact
that Saturday, March 8 happened to be International Women’s Day had
reduced the number of people participating in the demonstration.
However, he added that the demonstration received a good response with
inquiries coming in from outstation areas like Badulla and Kurunegala.
demonstration, according to Fernando did not receive funds from anyone
and was not funded by any embassy. He went on to say that Sri Lankans
too have a right to take part in global activities adding that a US led
attack on Iraq is unjustifiable. “According to international laws, a
country can only use weapons against another country in self-defence. So
far, Iraq has not tried to attack the US and how can the US try to
disarm another country using similar weapons of mass destruction and
armed forces,” Fernando questioned.
protest also did not receive much support from political parties quite
used to organising such protests themselves. The JVP usually does not
lend support to protest campaigns organised by the Alliance since rival
trade unions hold membership with them.
the JVP and the SLFP will come together tomorrow to hold a joint rally
against the government. The last time the JVP took to the streets it
brought 45,000 protesters into Colombo leaving it virtually sieged by
protesters and security personnel.
anti-war demonstration is the second such global protest. The first was
held on February 15 and was considered the largest protest in history.
minus the shooting
New Delhi was
still cool at the tail end of a bitter winter, but North India was fever
pitch with excitement as February drew to a close. The cricket fever was
on an all time high with the Indian team doing well at the World Cup
being played in South Africa, and the most crucial game for the Indians
turned out to be the one against Pakistan.
intensity was too much. On the eve of February 28, a hassled looking
Indian Skipper Saurav Ganguly appeared on national television with a
plea of sorts. “Tomorrow we are playing Pakistan, and it is not a war,
but a simple game of cricket.”
knew what he was talking about. The stakes were high in a country that
plays good cricket (match fixing notwithstanding) and the national
interest is such that each time India played, it became an unofficial
would prefer it to be a simple game, but in the sub-continent cricket is
war minus the shooting.
obsession and passion in the entire sub continent perhaps is seen at its
best and worst in India itself. Nowhere would you find so much
celebration for a simple victory. No where else would you get the kind
of anger turned into violence targeting players, their property and
families so that the stressed out captain himself has to appeal for
would risk anything, give up anything to see us defeat Pakistan,” said
an impassioned senior executive of the Taj Palace Hotel. His enthusiasm
seemed contagious. With feverish intensity, they remained glued to
television sets, in pin drop silence as Pakistan scored an imposing 273
runs. The game of cricket obviously transcended all barriers and brought
the young, old and the lame together — this Indian passion for the
British game is nothing short of a religion.
course, playing Pakistan was crucial and the feeling was, ‘never mind
the World Cup, India needed to beat Pakistan.’ An ancient political
grudge that runs back to partition — Mohamed Ali Jinnah’s creation
of Pakistan. So playing with Pakistan was much more than a game, it was
political warfare sans the bloodshed.
bloodshed part came in, as Ganguly and his boys knew well, in the
aftermath of defeat. That, the players would not risk. A win was
mandatory for both countries for the political intensity of the match
made it a life and death issue. A defeat put much at stake. It was just
a week before that Ganguly’s house was attacked and Rahul Dravid’s
car was smashed. Such is the passion this ‘gentleman’s’ game
evokes in the Indian psyche.
1 was the predictable unofficial holiday. The Delhi streets, congested
and polluted with over three million vehicles were deserted. People
stayed indoors, glued to television sets and munching popcorn and candy.
few of us who differed, thought this was an ideal opportunity for
shopping at the bazaars. It was. One could bargain at ease because the
vendor is eager to go home. As the day wore by, they were keener to
close shop, so one could actually purchase a Rs. 200 pair of shorts for
half its price.
Delhi pubs had propped up large tele screens, and the executives who
dropped by for a coffee remained glued, thumping on tables as saucers
and cups rattled. At the restaurants, ladies sat quietly eating until
Tendulkar hit a single — a single mind you and there would be
uproarious applause, thumps and diners would stand up and cheer.
a game, what passion! Interestingly, this national obsession went far
beyond playing cricket, it had much to do with playing against Pakistan.
Many thought it was premature to expect the World Cup itself, but
defeating Pakistan seemed a matter
of national pride.
to anyone, but not to Pakistan” most said. Former Pakistan skipper
Imran Khan now turned politician was visiting Delhi as the crucial match
was being played. “Strange indeed, we are so passionate about playing
against each other. More strange is the fact that we only meet on a
cricket pitch,” he noted.
Indian victory saved the day finally, and definitely saved invaluable
property of the players. Crackers were lit, plates laden with sweets
were brought to the streets. Hugs, kisses followed as if everyone had
some stake in the game. It was celebration time and this, Indians do in
grand style. Ganguly would rather bask in the afterglow than worry about
the ‘what might have beens.’
the targeting of Muslims, the abuse and the un-sportsmanship that
followed led one Indian national daily, a newspaper which took pride in
advocating that India should play Pakistan whenever possible to ease the
political tension to finally note: “ If a game leads to these barbaric
ends, let’s never play against Pakistan.”
beset by poverty — study
rural areas dependent on agriculture is far higher when compared to
other parts of the island, a recent study has revealed.
is considered one of the sectors that has the highest potential for
growth and development.
than 70% of Sri Lanka’s rural population relies on agriculture for
their livelihood. However, the study conducted by the Mahbub ul Haq
Development Centre in collaboration with an UN agency states that the
Sri Lanka’s farmers’ incomes are not adequate when compared with the
cost of living and production costs.
adds that for more than two decades, Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector
has performed below its average capacity.
the last decade, the local agriculture sector has grown only 2%, which
indicates that the national export capabilities of the country are under
pressure, in turn affecting export earnings.
agriculture sector contributes only
20% to the gross exports although it is the main sector that can
help uplift the rural economy.
study further states that with farmers’ incomes becoming less, the
credit burden in rural areas tends to increase rural poverty and thus
pushes a quarter of the country’s population below the poverty line.
paddy is the main crop grown by 70% of Sri Lanka’s farmers, this only
meets 90% of the domestic requirement. However, the farmers’ income
keeps reducing as production costs keep going up.
study has also shown the intensity of agriculture on farming land has
reduced by 18% during the period 1990 to 1997. When farmers find that
agriculture yields less profits, the land is divided and used for other
purposes and not for agricultural purposes. Farmers also divide their
land to give to their children, thus dividing existing land further.
is a surplus of labour in Sri Lanka and the cost of machines are high
and the only machine used by most farmers is the tractor. Thus,
intensive farming is not possible, which in turn does not give the
optimum output. Adding to this is the theory that it is not economical
to buy sophisticated machines for small pieces of land. The fact that
only 1% of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on research and
development on agriculture shows that this sector’s potential is not
generated from agriculture is recorded as the lowest occupational income
category in the country,” states the study.
study further states that very little has been done in parallel
industries to help the rural economy.
sponsored programmes have put up garment factories in the rural areas to
improve employment opportunities. However, rural sector investments for
rural infrastructure development have been restricted due to budgetary
constraints of the government.
private sector investment flows to the rural areas have also been
limited,” the study further states