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20th February, 2005  Volume 11, Issue 32

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    

News

It's school as usual - but the study environment has changed somewhat for students at the Gintota Maha Vidyalaya, Galle since the tsunami. Seven weeks after the killer waves hit the school they still have to make do with plastic tents in the blazing heat

Photo by Padmasiri Gamage


 Somawansa pledges support to Mahinda

CBK puts JVP on notice

President Chandrika Kumaratunga last week informed the JVP in writing she will no longer tolerate any criticism from the party and.....

More...


More News

> Prince Charles' visit causes controversy

> LTTE slams Govt. on Clinton-Bush visit

> Cialysis to give Viagra a hard time

> Warning against coastal sand mining

> Elections on schedule

> CBK Souvenirs dumped

> Monarch treats victims 

> Rotary rebuilds schools

> Ratnavale - CLS president  

> SLCTB to cut workforce 

> ADB sets up fund

> Muslims protest 

> Bird sanctuary to be upgraded

> Disparity in counsellors in tsunami affected areas

> Promoting a "Catholic only" policy

> Little deeds of kindness

> Fowzie on early warning system

> CCD approval before renovations

> Court issues search warrants to raid video pirates

> Killings jeopardise CFA - SLMM

> A

> L

> G

> N


It's school as usual - but the study environment has changed somewhat for students at the Gintota Maha Vidyalaya, Galle since the tsunami. Seven weeks after the killer waves hit the school they still have to make do with plastic tents in the blazing heat

Photo by Padmasiri Gamage


 Somawansa pledges support to Mahinda

CBK puts JVP on notice

President Chandrika Kumaratunga last week informed the JVP in writing she will no longer tolerate any criticism from the party and would take stern action if either the government or she were to be criticised by the Marxists.

The President's letter dated Wednesday, February 16 was sent to JVP Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa 72 hours after she asked the JVP at a public rally in Nittambuwa to quit the government if it so wished without merely threatening to do so.

The letter to the JVP was sent by the President after Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera and the Deputy Ministers' Forum intervened Tuesday night to negotiate a settlement between the President and the JVP.

The JVP had informed the government Tuesday morning, the party's four ministers and deputies would resign their portfolios on Wednesday, February 16, unless the President denies her statement calling upon the JVP to quit the government.

The President's letter to Weerawansa had annexed the clarification sought but the clarification reiterated Kumaratunga's charge but said no specific party was identified.

The President's letter to Weerawansa under confidential cover was sent together with the clarification.

In her letter, the President had said, since the formation of the government, the JVP had vilified her personally and the government on no less than nine occasions.

Kumaratunga had further said, in keeping with international practices governing heads of state, she had refrained from responding to the charges but would no longer refrain from doing so.

The Sunday Leader learns that the JVP has chosen to ignore the President's comments on the basis she has no role in the UPFA.

The JVP has decided to take the position that Kumaratunga since her resignation as UPFA leader has no status in the alliance and was not in a position to dictate terms to the party.

Meanwhile, JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe speaking to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse from London last week pledged the support of his party to the Premier.


Prince Charles' visit causes controversy

A fresh controversy has erupted over the impending visit of Britain's Prince Charles to Sri Lanka following the government objecting to the British Crown Prince visiting the Tamil majority Batticaloa District.

Prince Charles was scheduled to visit Sri Lanka on February 28, but his visit now hangs in the balance.

The British High Commission had earlier informed the government that Prince Charles wishes to visit the Batticaloa District to observe first hand the devastation in the area but had been informed by the Foreign Ministry the Prince should instead visit Trincomalee. The Sunday Leader learns that following the Foreign Ministry request, British High Commission officials had visited Trincomalee and found that damage to the area was minimal compared to the Batticaloa District and had accordingly notified the Foreign Ministry.

The British High Commission, it is learnt had also indicated that Prince Charles would therefore like to visit Batticaloa District. The Foreign Ministry, authoritative sources said had informed the British High Commission they would consult President Chandrika Kumaratunga on the issue and revert to the High Commission.

However, it is learnt that even by Friday, there had been no intimation to the British High Commission by either the President's Office or the Foreign Ministry, giving the green light for Prince Charles to visit the Batticaloa District.


LTTE slams Govt. on Clinton-Bush visit

By Easwaran Rutnam 

The LTTE has lashed out at the government for not including the north and east in the itinerary of visiting former US Presidents George Bush Snr. and Bill Clinton who are scheduled to arrive in the island this afternoon to inspect the tsunami devastated areas.

LTTE Peace Secretariat Head S. Puleethevan told The Sunday Leader that the actions of the government even at a time of national crisis proves they consider the north and east as a separate entity.

Puleethevan said LTTE Political Head S. P. Tamilselvan had sent an invitation to the two visiting heads on Friday to inspect the devastated areas in the north and east and offer much needed assistance.

However, sources at the American Embassy in Colombo, the Government Peace Secretariat and the Foreign Ministry said they were unaware of such an invitation.

"The two former heads are spending a very short time in the island so I don't think they will have time to visit the north and east anyway," said the US embassy source.

However, Puleethevan says the fact that the government did not propose the visit to the Tamil dominated areas in the first place indicates the government is only concerned about the south and not the north and east.

"The state has always blocked foreign dignitaries including UN Secretary General Kofi Annan from visiting our areas so it comes as no surprise that they are preventing the US heads from inspecting the devastation in the north and east," Puleethevan said.

The itenary for the visit of the two former US presidents has been planned by the two former leaders themselves together with the Sri Lankan government.

The Government Peace Secretariat says it has no involvement in the visit as it is related to the tsunami disaster and not the peace process.

Former Presidents Clinton and Bush are scheduled to meet President Chandrika Kumaratunga this evening.

They are scheduled to travel to Matara tomorrow morning and inspect US assistance in the area before travelling to the Maldives the same day.

Puleesthevan noted the international community was aware that the Sri Lankan government was making efforts to ensure the true picture of the north and east does not get much attention and warned that the actions of the state will have a serious impact in the progress of the peace process in Sri Lanka.


Cialysis to give Viagra a hard time

By Ranee Mohamed

A new 'love drug' called Cialysis which is in the process of being registered in Sri Lanka is expected to give stiff competition to Sildanafil Citrate, commonly called Viagra.

Viagra which created a sensation with its arrival in the Sri Lankan pharmaceuticals market is threatened with almost being classed as impotent when this new product Cialysis becomes officially registered.

Cialysis, with its generic name Tadalafil is from the pharmaceuticals giant Eli-Lily, and is solely  for 36 hours of sexual virility.

The drug costing Rs. 1,900 is already available in several leading pharmacies in the country.

Chief Pharmacist, Union Chemists, Mervyn Burrows who is considered an authority on pharmaceuticals, when contacted said that the drug will officially be available in Sri Lanka after registration.

"As it activates for 36 hours, it will be a cost effective product in relation to Sildanafil Citrate (Viagra)," explained Burrows.

The US product of Sildanafil Citrate costs approximately Rs. 890 and Cialysis costing Rs. 1,900 does show a disparity in price.

"We can afford only one dose of Sildanafil Citrate at Rs. 890, but try dividing Rs. 1,900 by four or five, whichever applicable," suggested Burrows.


Warning against coastal sand mining

By Shezna Shums

Environmentalists are urging the public as well as officials involved in the construction of houses and other buildings to obtain sand in environmentally friendly ways and not to exploit existing sand supplies.

There are places along the coastal belt that still have sand dunes that had protected the land from the crushing waves.

However environmentalists are warning that people should not take advantage of these sand dunes for obtaining sand for construction purposes, thereby destroying the natural barriers.

According to the World Conservation Unit, an assessment done after the tsunami proves that the natural eco-systems have in fact reduced the tsunami impact and  sand dunes, mangroves and other natural ecosystems have cushioned the effect of the crushing waters and saved the inland environment.

"In Lunawa there are broad, tall and well stabilised sand dunes. This made the damage of the tsunami much less in this particular area," explained Programme Coordinator, IUCN, Dr C.N.Bambaraniya.

Another eco-system that Dr Bambaraniya noted that had acted as a barrier was where the natural estuaries, lagoons and mangroves have not been damaged.

"The salt water that came inland was absorbed by these eco-systems and caused less damage to the land as well as to the agriculture terrain," Bambaraniya told The Sunday Leader.

He also warned that the filling of wetlands along the coast as well as in Colombo will damage the environment and that these natural eco-systems will not be able to protect the land from future diasters of this nature.

Bambaraniya stressed that sand dunes should not be exploited for sand supplies while the mangroves should not be exploited for their timber.


Elections on schedule

The Elections Department says elections will be held according to schedule but fell short of pointing out the exact dates.

Following the growing controversy regarding the presidential election with the opposition saying it will be held in 2005 and the government saying 2006, the elections Department says it will be held on the date that had been previously stipulated by the Department.

A reluctant Deputy Elections Commissioner, P. M. Siriwardana told The Sunday Leader that he could not comment on the exact year and date of the election since the media is looking for the opportunity to create more controversy on the issue.

"The government is saying one thing, opposition something else, and a few others another thing. There is also a court case regarding the year. All I can say is it will be held as previously scheduled by us" says Siriwardana.

He noted that even Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake was reluctant to make an official comment on the year as he can be misquoted considering the controversy surrounding the issue.


CBK Souvenirs dumped

Publications printed to mark President Chandrika Kumaratunga's 10th anniversary in office at a cost  of over  Rs 1 million, The Sunday Leader learns, is now lying waste at the information department warehouse.

According to well placed government sources the books containing the speeches made by President Kumaratunga during the Independence Days over the past 10 years were compiled and printed in all three languages.

This exercise had been spearheaded by Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera and it is learnt the Minister had given strict orders to the Information Department to distribute the books to the foreign missions in Sri Lanka once the printing is over.

Assistant Director information Ali Hasan, who volunteered to distribute the copies published in all three languages to the diplomats had failed to do so.

The copies lying in the warehouse of the department to date has lost its purpose and is therefore lying waste, the source said. The Sunday Leader learns that 5,000 copies in English, 3,000 in Sinhalese and 2,000 copies in Tamil had been printed.

However Media Ministry sources say that the Information Department director was pulled up by the Minister.


Monarch treats victims

The Greek ship Ocean Monarch converted into a hospital has successfully treated many victims affected by the tsunami last week.

Speaking to the Sunday Leader Greek Ambassador Esftathios Lozos said he was very happy with the response of patients towards the medical team. "The number of patients attended to by the Greek medical team on the fourth day was around 85."

"We have received a good response from the Sri Lankan people which is well above our expectations. A unique feature of the Ocean Monarch is that it was originally a battleship. The battleship was converted in to a hospital, to be offered as assistance to the Sri Lankan government" explained Lozos.

According to Lozos due to the positive response from the Sri Lankan government and the local authorities, officials from the local base hospital, the government agents and the eastern naval command, the Greek officials were able to carry out their operations smoothly.

 "The ship should be in the country for at least five weeks. However depending on the need of our medical staff and supplies in Sri Lanka the Greek government will have to take a decision if the ship will stay on for a longer period" Lozos said.

The Ocean Monarch is equipped with a trauma support center, a gynaecology unit, a laboratory and an operating theatre among others.

The Ocean Monarch will be used as a floating hospital with specialised medical personnel from Greek non-governmental organisations.


Rotary rebuilds schools

The Rotary District of Sri Lanka has offered to rebuild 25 schools of the 59 affected by the tsunami disaster. A total number of 59 schools were completely destroyed and a further 102 partially damaged

Preliminary work has already begun. A core group of senior Rotarians have been involved in negotiations with the government and Ministry of Education officials to gather data on all the schools in order to estimate the cost of this project. Initial estimates indicate a sum of Rs. 997 million (USD 10Million) will be required to complete all the 25 schools

"Rotary International is now in its centenary year and we could think of no better way to mark the occasion than by playing a key role in the rebuilding and restoration of the schools affected by the tsunami disaster" said District Governor Lucky Pieris.

"We will be looking for sponsorship partners in the corporate sector and among overseas clubs to join hands with us in this worthy task" Pieris said.


Ratnavale - CLS president 

The Colombo Law Society(CLS) last week named K.S. Ratnavale as its president, after he defeated Mahinda Lokuge in a contest for the position.

A 35-member committee was elected by CLS on February 12, after which the committee met last Friday (18) to elect its office bearers. Ratnavale is reported to have been a strong supporter of new Bar Association President elect, Desmond Fernando, while his rival, Lokuge supported former President Ikram Mohamed in last week's keenly contested BASL polls.

According to Ratnavale, many of those who voted for Fernando in last week's election also voted for him as president of CSL. Ratnavale won 28 of the 35 committee votes to be elected president, while Lokuge secured 11. Anil Rajakaruna was elected vice president of CSL and P.L. Gunewardane was named secretary.

The Colombo Law Society is a branch of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, with the largest contingent of delegates in the Bar Council from around the island.


SLCTB to cut workforce by half

By Easwaran Rutnam 

The Sri Lanka Central Transport Board (SLCTB) has proposed a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) for cluster bus company employees in an effort to restructure the ailing giant and make the state bus service more effecient.

SLCTB chairman I. S Jayaratna said they hope to prune the current workforce to 20,000 to 22,000 employees. "We are hoping that by introducing the VRS at least 15000 employees will retire" he said.

The proposal has been put forward to the Transport Ministry for which the SLCTB hopes to receive  approval by early next month.

"We expect to implement the proposal once approved sometime next month" says the SLCTB chairman.

He noted that once the workforce is pruned down the profits acquired in the future can be utilised to make the state bus service more efficient.


ADB sets up fund

The Asian Development Bank yesterday approved the setting up of a multidonor Asian Tsunami Fund, with ADB making its own initial contribution of US$600 million, to deliver emergency funding to tsunami-affected countries.

The fund will pool and deliver grants for emergency technical assistance and investment projects to support reconstruction and rehabilitation in India, Indonesia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.


Muslims protest

About 1,000 Muslims blocked traffic Friday(18) to protest against plans by the government to reconstruct areas hit by the tsunami in the east, saying the effort could wipe out their villages and force them to relocate.

The Muslim students and teachers blocked vehicles by sitting down on the main road in the town of Oluvil following Friday prayers, demonstrating against the government's proposal to prohibit construction 100 metres from the sea.

M.Jasith, one of the organisers of the protest, said the plan could wipe out Muslim villages on the coast and force them to relocate to other areas, harming their culture and livelihood.


Bird sanctuary to be upgraded

By Risidra Mendis 

While the December 26 killer waves devastated many a national park in Sri Lanka, authorities are currently in the process of upgrading a bird sanctuary in the Anuradhapura District to the status of a national park.

Following the tsunami catastrophe, the infrastructure of many parks were damaged and there was a drastic drop in the number of visitors to these parks as well.

The selected bird sanctuary is situated in the Horowapathana electorate in Anuradhapura east. It is to be declared open within three months.

The bird sanctuary spreads on some 50,000 acres bordering the Horowapathana-Trincomalee Road, about 28 kilometres off the Mahadivulwewa area.

One of the key reasons cited for the declaration is an initiative by the authorities to help reduce the number of elephant-human confrontations in the area, which has been recorded as the highest in the north-western region.

A wildlife official speaking to The Sunday Leader said the Wilpattu National Park, Pahala Pallekele sanctuary and Ritigala strict natural reserve are the only protected areas in the north western region in which elephants can freely roam that are considered insufficient habitat for these animals.

Declaring the bird sanctuary a national park will give the elephants more freedom and a larger area to move about since elephants are known to move from one forest cover to another regularly seeking fodder. "The migration pattern should not be curbed. It is their lifestyle. When this freedom is curtailed, often by the settlements in the surrounding areas, it gives rise to conflicts between man and beast," says officials.

Herds have been spotted regularly in the area around the bird sanctuary although it is not an elephant corridor. In addition, many species of endemic birds, deer and wild boar are often seen in the area.

Once the sanctuary is declared a national park, the Ministry will look into building roads through which visitors can travel around the park.

The official further said the sanctuary would also be useful for environmentalists and school children to conduct research.


Disparity in counsellors in tsunami affected areas

By Shezna Shums 

Counsellors needed for the psychological care of the children affected by the tsunami in some areas count only one for approximately 1,000 children while in some areas, there is an excess in the required numbers.

Meanwhile, the government has called for the recruitment of some unemployed graduates, according to Social Services Minister, Sumedha Jayasena, a move opposed by many quarters who fear that such a move would compound problems as trauma counselling is a special concern.

The shortage of psychologists affect mainly some areas of the northern and eastern provinces of the country, while some southern parts of the country have the services of both local and international counsellors with psychologists visiting the schools and camps in order to treat both the children and adults affected by the tsunami.

Statistics from the Probation and Childcare Services Department show that there is a total of 868 children who have lost both their mother and father, while a total of 2,836 children have lost one of their parents recording one of the worst human tragedies in the country.

In the Western Province alone, 12 children have been orphaned while 14 children have lost one parent.

In the Northern Province 702 children have been orphaned and 2,089 children have lost one parent, in Thirukkovil alone a total of 86 children have been orphaned, 39 of them males and 47 females, stated the Secretary, Thirukkovil Divisional Secretariat, A. K. Thavarajah.

A total of 154 children from the Southern Province have been orphaned while 733 children in this province have lost a parent.

Some of the districts that have to deal with this tragic situation are Batticaloa, Amparai, Trincomalee, Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu, Jaffna, Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Galle, Matara and Hambanthota. Some of the areas that have the highest number of children who have been orphaned or lost one parent are Batticaloa, Amparai and Mullaithivu.

According the Assistant Commissioner, Samurdhi, R. Nedichelian, the Batticaloa hospital has just started their counselling unit for the tsunami affected children. However, the hospital is tragedy struck with only one psychologist for a total of 1,105 children who have either been orphaned or lost one parent.

Apart from the hospital psychologist, UNICEF is also helping out with counselling services in this area with the number of trauma victims being rather high.

"We definitely need more counsellors, this is not enough," stressed Nedichelian.

He also pointed out that very little aid, has come towards Batticaloa, and that families as well as the children lack clothing, books, and other essential items in regard to daily living as well as with school supplies.

Meanwhile, Government Agent, Amparai, Herath Abeyweera noted that most of the orphaned children are staying with their extended family, highlighting one of the healthy aspects of the South Asian culture of close family ties.

"These children were given a choice as to whom they want to stay with, while we also carry out regular checks to see how safe their home environment is," Abeyweera told The Sunday Leader.

In this district, there is one psychological unit headed by a single psychologist in the Kalmunai hospital, where the children are counselled. There are also several NGOs helping the children.

In both Batticaloa and Amparai Districts, affected children have to be taken by their guardians to the main hospitals which are often not easily accessed.

Abeyweera noted that what the families who are looking after these children need urgently, is economic assistance, especially when it comes to bringing these children up and providing education for them. It is his hope that such issues are sorted out soon enough so that their high levels of trauma may also reduce as a result.

Hambantota however is a different story. It is an area that is more organised with regard to providing counselling services to affected people. There are 10 to 15 counsellors working in the areas while the NGOs also work alongside.

Counsellors visit the camps as well as the schools where they talk to the children and help them. "They visit schools and camps and talk to the children in general. They do not separate the children who have been affected from those who have not," explained Government Agent, Hambantota, M. A. Piyasena.

The counsellors visit the affected children, parents and guardians on a regular basis, and with regard to counselling by the NGOs, the Government Agent and Health Department have even set up certain guidelines that have to be followed when counselling people.

At present, all base hospitals in Sri Lanka have set up counselling centres specially for the tsunami affected though there is no separation of the young from the old.


Promoting a "Catholic only" policy

By Easwaran Rutnam 

Students both past and present as well as former teachers of St. Bridget's Convent Colombo are up in arms against new policies being implemented by the school principal, most of which they claim are discriminating towards non Catholics.

It is alleged Principal Sister Margorie de Silva, who took over in 2003, is making every attempt to cultivate a "Catholic Only" culture in the school which was earlier respected for offering equal opportunities for students devoid of religion or race.

Sources within the school said that Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu students who once had the opportunity of observing their own religious prayer sessions in the mornings have now been forced to remain in their classes while the Catholic students attend their morning prayers.

The Principal has also introduced a new prefect selection policy, which brushes aside non Catholic students despite their good education and track record.

"One student who had everything to be a prefect was denied the position. I believe it was because she is a Muslim. It is not Christian like to brush aside deserving students. God himself embraced the gentiles," said a former teacher who parents say was well respected in the school.

Some students say there are attempts to force Muslim students who wear Shalwar pants under their frocks to do away with the pants.

The new policies have forced a number of Muslim high achievers to abandon their education at the school which produced non Catholic leaders in the calibre of late Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and  current President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

"A Buddhist teacher who taught in the school for more than 47 years is being forced into retirement by the Principal in fear that she will be a stumbling block to the new rules and regulations," said a former teacher of the school who wished to remain anonymous.

Former students say the current school batch, especially Catholics are saddened by the treatment meted out to the non Catholics in the school considering the convent, which celebrated 100 years in 2003, was much respected for its standards and culture.

Dodging The Leader

When The Sunday Leader attempted to confront the Principal on Thursday (17) morning with the allegations, we were prevented from meeting her by the school security.

The security at the gate at first told us to meet her at 2.30 pm saying she was busy.

Attempts to contact the Catholic Archbishop, under who's purview the school falls, also proved futile.


Little deeds of kindness

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema 

The global outpouring of aid to the country following the tsunami devastation was definitely awe-inspiring, and some of the best efforts to ease human suffering came from individuals than institutions.

The government and numerous local and international non-governmental organisations were engaged in providing immediate assistance to the affected with the highlight among them being the arrival of individual volunteers to the country to provide relief measures.

While Sri Lanka was the recipient of much aid and goodwill amongst the tsunami-affected countries, many from around the world responded to the country's hour of need.

For Bill and Annette Whitehouse, the news of the tsunami devastating Sri Lanka, their favourite holiday spot was a surprise as well as heartbreaking news. They loved this little island where they regularly holidayed.

The beautiful memories they had of the country would not let them simply absorb it as news and remain so. They were married in this  island and from then onwards, had visited the country annually making it their second home. A ritual, a homecoming that they simply lived for.

When they received the devastating news, their instant reaction was to find some way to reach out to the affected. Interestingly however, they were not alone in their thoughts. For this desire to help Sri Lanka appeared a common wish.

The Whitehouses along with several others in their hometown of Kidderminster in the United Kingdom organised a concert - an evening of music - to raise funds for the tsunami affected Sri Lanka.

The concert was held on January 29 at Kidderminster Town Hall under the patronage of mayors of three provinces - Kidderminster, Bewdley and Stourport.

They collected 5,000 Sterling Pounds including 1,200 Sterling Pounds from a raffle draw. Gifts for the draw were also donated by well-wishers. It was one heart-warming effort to help the needy in a country they loved.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Bill and Annette, who are currently in the island said the money collected would be handed to St. Mary's Church, Payagala. Payagala was one of the worst affected areas by the tsunami.

"Twenty nine children along with their families in need of assistance have already been identified," said Bill.

Bill observed that apart from the monetary aid, people of Kidderminster had also collected clothes, linen, etc., to be handed over to the displaced.

A friend of the Whitehouses, Ed Barry, one of the main organisers of the concert had also compiled a CD of golden oldies. Proceeds from the sale would also be contributed for the cause.

Annette's brother, Roland Jones, who is a property developer, has contributed cash to donate a fishing boat to a fisher family.

The Whitehouses while explaining the tremendous response in England, observed that they plan to continue with the effort by fostering families.

Bill noted that people in Kidderminster would continue to help the affected, adding that it would be an ongoing process.

"We have a strong connection with Sri Lanka and we have so many happy memories. This is the least we can do. We have to give something back. We have had such happiness here," the couple said, happy that they along with those in their community could have been of some assistance to some one in need.

And there is no doubting that it is these "little deeds of kindness" that really go a long way. Even when rebuilding a devastated island home.


Fowzie on early warning system

Environment Minister A. H. M. Fowzie says that the early warning system cannot be acquired overnight and that the government would require at least another three to four months to implement it.

The Minister last week presented a cabinet paper highlighting the importance of Sri Lanka having its own warning system so that the country would not have to depend on foreign assistance to warn of a calamity.

Fowzie said that he has already invited Japan to enter into an agreement. He said the UPFA government is trying to request Japan to carry out a feasibility study with the Geological Department and the Meteorological Department and to take a decision.

Referring to the disaster warning system that is available at Pallekele, the Minister said the unit would not be disbanded until the country is fully equipped with a proper, modern early warning system.

Meanwhile he said there is a problem with setting up an early warning system in the region. According to the Minister, while Bangkok has come forward to establish one in its country, India is opposing.

He said it would be much better for the system to be placed in any country near the Indian ocean so that Sri Lanka too could benefit out of that.


CCD approval before renovations

By Shezna Shums 

Residents already living within the 100-meter zone are requested to obtain prior approval from the Coast Conservation Department (CCD) if they are to carry out any renovations.

However, in the western side of the country a buffer zone of 100-meters and in other areas a buffer zone of 200-meters will be applied.

According to the Deputy Director of Planning, CCD, Gamini Hewage, permission must also be sought from residents whose houses were built before the act was passed in 1984.

"Since the Coast Conservation Act No 57 of 1981 was implemented in 1984 the constructions before the act can remain," said Hewage.

"Most of the big hotels have got permission for their buildings, but there are some unauthorised structures especially in places like Moratuwa," he added.


Court issues search warrants to raid video pirates 

The Commercial Crime Division of the Criminal Investigation Department recently raided sixteen shops and outlets involved in the sale of pirated CDs, DVDs and VCDs.

These raids were made consequent to search warrants obtained by Maharajah Entertainments (Pvt) Ltd, from the magistrates courts of Colombo, Colombo Fort and Mount Lavinia.

Maharajah Entertainments (Pvt) Ltd, had filed several actions in the these courts under the provisions of the Intellectual Property Act No. 36 of 2003. In the action filed by the company it was claimed that the company has exclusive rights pertaining to copyrights of several audiovisual works and sound tracks.

The company had obtained these rights by entering upon agreements with internationally reputed producing companies like Sony.

In terms of the these agreements the complainant claimed that no other third party could produce, reproduce or sell copies so produced or reproduced. The company alleged that the suspects named in the actions were involved in the sale of counterfeit CDs, DVDs and VCDs. It was further alleged that the suspects had even copied the local albums produced by Maharajah Entertainment (Pvt) Ltd, together with several local artistes.

It was also alleged by the complainants that the these actions of the suspects amounted to violation of the rights of the complainants under the provision of the Intellectual Property Act.

The applications for search warrants were supported by Kalinga Indratissa, attorney at law and senior counsel for Maharajah Entertainments (Pvt) Ltd.

Indratissa also appeared for Maharajah Entertainment (Pvt) Ltd, with Hemantha Gamage, Ranil Samarasooriya, Indika Karunajeewa, Seevali Delgoda, H.G. Dharmadasa, Miran Fernando, S.C.Samarasinghe, Harshana Nanayakara, Asanga Bodaragama, Ms. Geethani Wijesinghe, Ms. Upamalika Liyanage and Dayasiri Jayasekara instructed by G.G.Arulpragasam  attorney at law.


Killings jeopardise CFA - SLMM 

By Easwaran Rutnam

The Sri Lank Monitoring Mission (SLMM) says despite restraint shown by both the state army and the LTTE to prevent an escalation of the armed conflict, several indiscriminate killings are jeopardising the ceasefire agreement (CFA).

In a statement to The Sunday Leader to commemorate the third anniversary of the signing of the CFA between the government and the LTTE which falls on Tuesday (22) the SLMM said that although there have been several serious violations of the agreement there have not been any clashes between the parties' military forces adding this was as a result of the parties' pure willingness to act with restraint in difficult situations.

However, the SLMM noted that the indiscriminate killings represent a serious threat to the peace process because they contaminate the cooperation and the mutual trust between the parties. The SLMM statement said that it strongly condemns the killings, and urged the government and the LTTE to identify and apprehend the perpetrators.

The Nordic monitors noted that the lack of peace talks has led to frustration and uncertainty, and is putting serious strains on the CFA. It said that the devastating tsunami has brought further suffering to this island and added pressure on the parties and noted that it was therefore more important then ever that the cease fire holds to enable the two sides to help the people reconstruct the devastated areas.

Meanwhile Norway's peace envoy Erik Solheim who is due in the island this week will participate in celebrations of the third anniversary of the ceasefire agreement in Colombo on Tuesday.

The Norwegain embassy said that Solheim is scheduled to hold talks with President Chandrika Kumaratunga and separately with LTTE political head S.P. Thamilselvan. His visit is the first by the Norwegian mediators following the killing of the LTTE Batticaloa  Ampara political head E. Kaushalyan.


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