Former American President Bill Clinton was seen crossing this tiny puddle of water during his recent visit to Kinniya in the east where 46 children were killed in the December 26 tsunami. Clinton was revisiting the island as a UN Goodwill Ambassador to evaluate the
rehabilitation effort of the tsunami ravaged areas (Courtesy: AFP)
We will issue Mahinda a visa to meet
Pirapaharan says Balasingham
LTTE Chief Negotiator Anton Balasingham has revealed Tiger plans to go their own way and win the rights of the Tamil......
Norway to continue as facilitator
JVP opposes general election
Has CBK bought Prince Andrew's mansion?
Mahinda to present budget
UNP to file election petition
> LTTE claims it has identified mosque bombers
We will issue Mahinda a visa to meet
Pirapaharan says Balasingham
LTTE Chief Negotiator Anton Balasingham has revealed Tiger plans to go their own way and win the rights of the Tamil people claiming they already have their own independent state structures.
Balasingham made this disclosure in London to mark the LTTE's 'Heroes Day' commemoration ceremonies.
The LTTE Chief Negotiator who drafted Velupillai Pirapaharan's 'Heroes Day' statement has in his speech explained the thinking behind its content.
Balasingham, referring to President Mahinda Rajapakse's policy statement made in parliament, states he is free to keep his unitary state in the south and that the LTTE will establish its own unitary state in Tamil Eelam.
"You keep your unitary state with your Buddhist priests, we will keep our unitary state with the Tigers. There is no problem for us and we will not dispute your unitary state," Balasingham said.
He has also described Ranil Wickremesinghe as a 'cunning fox' who had to be defeated for the LTTE to escape the trap set by the UNP Leader through the international community.
Referring to President Rajapakse's offer to meet the LTTE Leader, Balasingham states that the Tiger police will give him full protection and a visa to visit their homeland.
"Some media personnel have interpreted our Leader's statement to mean that he has given only one month. But it is not so. It can be either at the beginning of next year or the middle of next year. Whatever the obstacles, whatever the harm, whatever the suffering, we will oppose and wage war and get back our
motherland," Balasingham has also said.
Norway to continue as facilitator
President Mahinda Rajapakse has decided to continue with Norway as the facilitator of the peace process and resume talks with the LTTE on the basis of reviewing the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA).
The President was expected to communicate his decision on Norway's role at a scheduled meeting with the Co-Chairs at Temple Trees tomorrow (5) but the meeting was called off friday afternoon due to concerns expressed by the JVPand JHU.
The official reason given for the cancellation of the meeting was the busy schedule of the President due to the budget presentation on November 8.The meeting is to be rescheduled after the President discusses with the JVP and the JHU the role of Norway in the peace process.
The Co-Chairs - Japan, USA, EU and Norway - last week sought an appointment from President Rajapakse to discuss the future of the peace process, which meeting was fixed for tomorrow.
President Rajapakse was to be assisted at the meeting by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Secretary Lalith Weeratunga and Head, Peace Secretariat, John Gooneratne.
The Co-Chairs were to be represented by Ambassador Akio Suda (Japan), Jeffrey Lunstead (USA), Hans Brattskar (Norway), Julian Wilson (EU) and British High Commissioner, Stephen Evans in his capacity as the current president of the EU.
The Sunday Leader learns, the President has however decided to continue with Norway as facilitator to bring the LTTE back to the table given the ultimatums issued by Velupillai Pirapaharan to resume the struggle for Eelam some time next year unless the government forwards a practical solution to the problems of the Tamil
A top government source said the President would call on the Co-Chairs to arrange with the LTTE talks to review the CFA as an initial confidence building measure.
The President is to also explain his plan to develop a southern consensus by holding discussions with the political parties represented in parliament as a first step.
The JHU however is opposing Norway continuing as facilitator while the JVP has drawn President Rajapakse's attention to the agreement signed with the party wherein Rajapakse has agreed to examine Norway's role in the peace process.
The JVP, the source said, has proposed curtailing Norway's role to merely facilitating the logistics without a mediating role.
The Co-Chairs, it is learnt, will not agree to the dilution of their role if they are to continue facilitating the peace process.
JVP opposes general election
The Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has strongly opposed moves by President Mahinda Rajapakse to call for a snap general election in the wake of his presidential election victory.
It is learned that the constituent partners have informed Rajapakse that there is no urgency to hold a general election just yet as the UPFA enjoys a majority in parliament with no possibility of that strength being weakened immediately.
Instead, The Sunday Leader learns the JVP is strongly advocating the holding of local government elections that need to be held early next year.
It is learned that the JVP is keen on a local poll, which if won would strengthen Rajapakse's mandate and consolidate the UPFA administration at the grassroot level.
Presently, the opposition UNP has control over a majority of local government bodies.
In the present context, the JVP has argued that a general election is not a necessity but bringing the local bodies under the UPFA control would give the government added strength in the event a parliamentary poll has to be called.
It is learned that a general election is likely to be held only mid next year if the political climate is conducive to the ruling alliance.
Has CBK bought Prince Andrew's mansion?
The Evening Standard newspaper of Britain has claimed that President Chandrika Kumaratunga has bought the Southyork mansion of Prince Andrew for a princely sum in the range of 10 million or approximately Rs. 1,800,000,000 (Rs. 1.8 billion).
The December 1 issue of the Evening Standard has published the story under the Londoner's Diary column with the headline, "Is Prince Andrew's Southyork mansion going to Sri Lanka?"
"Has the Duke of York finally sold his country mansion Sunninghill Park?" the report asks in the first paragraph.
"One well-placed source tells me the property - dubbed Southyork after the Ewing Range in the 1980s TV series Dallas - has been bought by former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga," the report adds.
It goes on to state as follows:
"Since divorcing Sarah, Duchess of York, in 1993 Prince Andrew has been desperate to offload Sunninghill so that he can move into the nearby Royal Lodge, formerly the residence of the Queen Mother.
"Southyork has been on the market for more than three years for 10 million.
"It is not known how much Mrs. Kumaratunga might have paid for the white elephant on the Berkshire-Surrey border, designed by Sir James Dunbar Nasmith and written off by some as being akin to an out of town branch of Tesco.
"But having snapped up two flats in Paris this year, Mrs. Kumaratunga is known to have been keen to buy an English home to be nearer her son who recently qualified as a vet from Bristol University, and her daughter, a UK hospital doctor.
"Buckingham Palace declines to comment," the report concludes.
However, a source close to the President denied the purchases of the mansion and the flats in Paris and said legal opinion would be sought against the newspaper.
Mahinda to present budget
The new budget 2006 will be presented by President Mahinda Rajapakse himself in his capacity as Finance Minister.
The President has indicated his willingness to do so as the new budget proposals would incorporate over 60% of the Mahinda Chinthana, contents of his election manifesto.
In the meantime, a special cabinet meeting has been summoned by the President on December 8, the day of presenting the new budget to discuss the approach ministers should take when participating in the debate.
As part of his concepts being given expression, the promise of offering fertiliser at Rs. 350 will be implemented from tomorrow (5).
Several other relief measures pledged during the election campaign and contained in the manifesto are to be announced by the President during his one hour budget speech, commencing at 1.45 pm.
Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga also once presented the budget to the house in her capacity as Finance Minister. (DH)
UNP to file election petition
By Chrishanthi Christopher
The UNP will file an election petition before the Supreme Court next week challenging the results of the November 17 election in which Mahinda Rajapakse was declared victor.
The petition would allege that the November 17 presidential poll was not 'free and fair,' and cite President Mahinda Rajapakse, Elections Commissioner, Daya-nanda Dissanayake and the Attorney
General, K. C. Kamalasabayson as respondents.
UNP Assistant Secretary, Tissa Attanayake told The Sunday Leader that the UNP would cite two reasons for challenging the outcome of the election. First, the inability of the northern people to exercise their franchise and, Second,
thousands of eligible voters being struck off from the electoral registers. "Many people lost their fundamental right to vote," said Attanayake.
He added that the UNP's official complaint regarding irregularities was rejected by the Elections Commissioner. "We requested for a repoll but was denied," he said.
Two other fundamental rights applications by individuals are also to be filed. Attanayake said that the UNP is in the process of gathering names of those struck off electoral registers, and added his party would encourage individuals to
Attanayake added, "We want to tell the world, the UN and the European Union that this is not a legitimate government."
Under the Presidential Elections Act No. 15 of 1981, all election petitions should be submitted within 21 days from the date of publication of election results in the government gazette. Any fundamental rights application should be filed within a month of the gazette notification of the election results.
LTTE claims it has identified mosque bombers
By Kumudu Amarasingham
The LTTE claims to have found those responsible for bombing the mosque in Akkaraipattu on Election Day, but refuse to divulge the information excepting to Muslim leaders in the area.
"The LTTE says they are 75% certain they have caught the culprit, but will only reveal the information to Muslim leaders in Akkaraipattu," TNA Parliamentarian S.Padmanadan said.
Four people were killed and over 20 injured when a grenade was thrown into the mosque on November 17. The LTTE denied involvement in the incident.
Tension has since prevailed between Muslims and Tamils in the east, with several incidents of violence reported.
A procession was held last Thursday(1) by Tamils in the area protesting the lack of doctors at Our Lady of Bembu Hospital situated on the Tamil border. "The doctors are mainly Muslims and refuse to work in the area after dark," Padmanadan said. He said he was trying to make arrangements to either bring in Sinhalese
doctors or foreign doctors to work in the hospital.
Padmanadan said several attempts were made by him and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) to get the two parties to talk and reach a solution, but to no avail. "The Muslim leaders are afraid to go to LTTE controlled areas and the LTTE personnel refuse to come to Muslim
areas," Padmanadan said.
Lankan fishermen stuck in India
By Shezna Shums
Despite new initiatives to secure the release of Sri Lankan fishermen languishing in Indian jails, over 200 fishing trawlers stuck in international waters close to India are unable to return to Sri Lanka due to possible arrest by the Indian coast guard.
Indian authorities arrested 30 Sri Lankan fishermen with five trawlers on India's territorial waters on November 25.
Following the arrests, there are fresh fears that the 200 trawlers would not be allowed return passage through Indian waters. These trawlers have been at sea for over a month now.
Media Officer, Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Nimal Dayaratne said that the Indian officials have not given a guarantee of safe passage back home to the local fishermen.
Minister of Fisheries, Felix Perera has contacted the Indian authorities and obtained permission for the trawlers to return home, Dayaratne added.
Perera is currently holding discussions with the Indian coast guard, defence authorities and fisheries ministry officials to secure their safe return.
President's 'statement' to remain just that
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
President Mahinda Rajapakse's statement of making the president answerable to parliament until such time the post is completely abolished will remain just that, a statement, till next year.
Rajapakse addressing the new parliament observed that till the executive presidency was abolished, he would during the interim period make the president answerable to parliament.
Constitutional Affairs Minister D. E. W. Gunasekara told The Sunday Leader that although Rajapakse made such a statement, the matter was yet to be decided and discussed. "We have not discussed the matter as yet," he said.
Gunasekara said that the government's main focus now was the budget and till that process comes to an end, matters like the abolishing of the executive presidency and making the president responsible to parliament, would have to wait.
"Abolishing the executive presidency is stated in the election manifesto, but no decision has been taken on the matter," he said.
Abolishing the executive presidency was one among the 12 proposals forwarded by the Marxist JVP to Rajapakse, who in turn accepted them to garner the support of the party in the run up to the presidential election. However, the government is likely to consider any constitutional or electoral reforms in the coming year.
The constitution confers upon an elected resident a multitude of powers, privileges and immunities that are exclusively exercised by him.
UNP in crisis talks
In a bid to settle the leadership crisis within the UNP, a crucial meeting will take place between Ranil Wickremesinghe loyalists and the rebel group on Tuesday (6).
Following Wickremesinghe's electoral defeat, a powerful section of the UNP is lobbying for the appointment of Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya as leader. The first round of talks was held between the two groups last Thursday(1).
Independent Commissions kota-uda
By Chrishanthi Christopher
The three independent commissions set up under the 17th Amendment to the Constitution to ensure better administration have been rendered redundant due to the lapsing of their terms, while the term of office of the appointing authority, the Constitutional Council (CC) too, lapsed
in March this year.
On Friday(2) the term of the Public Service Commission (PSC), the regulatory body that oversees the public service administration, also expired while the Police Commission's term ended on November 27.
The CC, the body responsible for making appointments to these bodies is in limbo because political parties have failed to arrive at a consensus on nominating members to the Council.
The appointments were not made as the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe were busy campaigning for the presidential election.
The expiry of the PSC will bring the administrative procedures relating to appointments, transfers and disciplinary control in the public service to a halt, says Prof. Colvin Guneratne, the only CC member functioning at present. Guneratne was appointed by former President Chandrika
Kumaratunga. " All appointments, transfers and other disciplinary actions in public administration are now in limbo," said Prof. Guneratne.
He added that the government should prioritise its work, and the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition should sit down and make these vital nominations.
Ranjit Abeysuriya who headed the Police Commission said "We were waiting for something to happen." In the absence of a CC, President Rajapakse can give an extension to the commissions to render them functional," he said.
Meanwhile, UNP Deputy Leader, Karu Jayasuriya in a statement released yesterday drew President Rajapakse's attention to the confusing situation and stressed the importance of making appointments to the CC without delay.
"Operation clean up" yields heroin and peddlars
By Nirmala Kannangara
A haul of 39.5 gms of heroin worth nearly Rs. 100,000 have been detected during the past two days at Borella, and three underworld figures have been arrested, OIC Peliyagoda police, IP Douglas Nimal said.
He told The Sunday Leader that this has been the biggest haul made by the police Anti Narcotics Division since the 24- hour "operation clean up" launched on November 28 to nab illegal drug traffickers and the drug peddlars in and around Colombowas launched.
According to IP Nimal, Gallage Sanath Priyankara Perera alias putha, a notorious underworld gangster, Hewa Kottage Dhanushka and H.H.M.Sirilath have been arrested on November 30 and December 1 while trafficking drugs. " "These three suspects were
nabbed at Borella where another peddlar escaped from police arrest."
The raids were carried out on the instructions of DIG Colombo, Pujitha Jayasundara.
The Maligakanda Magistrate ordered the three suspects to be kept in remand custody till December 13.
Ceasefire responsible for population growth
By Jamila Najmuddin
The Registrar General's Department has recorded an estimated rise of 1.2% in population growth in the past 11 months, compared to the population growth in 2004, a department official said.
While the northern and eastern provinces have contributed to the population growth, the department official told The Sunday Leader that the ceasefire agreement which was in effect for the past three years was one of the main factors for the population increase as it had enabled many
people to return to their homes in the war torn areas.
"A lot of people returned to their homes in the north and east due to the continuation of the ceasefire agreement and despite political unrest, the people were confident that the country would not return to a civil war once again," the official said.
She added that following the December 26 tsunami which displaced thousands of people, the victims remained in their areas rather than settling in other parts of the country due to the more conducive backdrop created by the truce.
According to the Central Bank Annual Report for 2004, the mid year population estimated by the Registrar General's Department grew by 1.1%, last year, compared to 1.3% recorded in 2003.
Accordingly, the mid year population was 19.5 million in 2004 and almost all districts contributed to the expansion in population except the Mannar District, where the growth was zero.
High increases in population were recorded in Colombo, Kandy and the Ratnapura Districts, while slight increases were recorded from Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya.
The report maintained that the relatively peaceful conditions that prevailed in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, due to the continuation of the ceasefire since early 2002, would have enabled more people to return to their homes, as recorded by the high population growth in these three districts in the Northern Province in
More deaths from AIDS in 2005 - WB
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
The World Bank on Wednesday (30) said that while there has been an unprecedented outpouring of money, significant advances in treatment, accumulated understanding of how to provide prevention, treatment and care efforts, along with the growing political commitment to stop the spread of the disease, more people will become
infected with HIV, and die of AIDS, in 2005 than in any previous year.
The bank says that poor coordination has posed a barrier to faster progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The bank's global HIV/AIDS strategy warned that since the HIV/AIDS pandemic has entered a new phase, a greater need has been created for international donors and developing countries to mobilise around common national strategies to better fight the disease.
Launched on the eve of World AIDS Day, on November 30, the World Bank's new global plan is expected to strengthen the bank's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the country, regional, and global levels, through no-interest lending, grants, analysis, technical support and policy dialogue.
The global fight against HIV/AIDS has been boosted in recent years by considerably more political commitment on the part of countries and donors, with the worldwide level of HIV/AIDS funding having surged from US$300 million in 1996, to approximately US$ 8 billion in 2005.
In recent years, the World Bank has dramatically scaled up its financial support to countries, helping jump-start expanded programmes in many of the hardest-hit places. Cumulative lending for HIV since the first project in 1988 is now over US$2.5 billion, and commitments in Sub-Saharan Africa have grown from US$10 million
annually 10 years ago to US$ 250-300 million in each of the last four years. The Bank also provides strong economic and policy analysis which helps countries identify the development implications of the epidemic and the potentially high returns on investment in prevention, care and treatment, and mitigation programmes.
The Global Programme of Action, which reflects the advice of developing and middle income countries, international agencies, NGOs, and other groups within the worldwide AIDS community, will help to spur more effective action in several key areas -more funding for national and regional HIV/AIDS programmes while strengthening
underlying health systems; improving the quality and scope of national HIV/AIDS.
Strategies include speeding up work on the ground by working more closely with donors; boosting programme monitoring and evaluation systems at country level; and, sharing the best solutions in policy and practice that have produced results.
Study of HIV/AIDS stigma
The Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) will launch a report profiling the stigma and discrimination faced by People Living With HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) and their family members.
The study was commissioned by the Asia Pacific Leadership Forum (APLF) to measure the stigma and discrimination faced by PLWHA and their families in areas such as employment, healthcare, social life, family life, education and housing.
The aim of this document is to highlight the various levels of stigma and discrimination faced by PLWHA and to explore possible ways in which these concerns can be addressed in Sri Lanka.
Police launch new initiative to curb drug menace
By Shezna Shums
The Police Department's Anti Narcotics Unit along with police stations islandwide have undertaken a new initiative to nab drug peddlers and users from December 1.
According to the unit, this is a top priority, given the trend of increased trade and use of drugs in the island.
All police stations, divisions and ranges have been alerted in this regard.
"All police stations and officers are going on full alert to aggressively curb the numbers of drug users and drug traffickers," said Director, Sri Lanka Police Narcotics, SSP Ananda Hettiarachchi.
SSP Hettiarachchi also said that all police stations around the island have their separate teams to bring these offenders to book.
The operations at the main narcotics division have also been streamlined so as to better coordinate the efforts of curbing the menace.
"Top police officials have been informed that cracking down on the drug trade should be their top most priority and to enforce the laws to the letter," explained Hettiarachchi.
Further more to pin down the drug users and dealers, the police have also taken measures to step up their intelligence as well as surveillance on drug peddlers, he said.
The new project by the police to curb drugs commenced last week in a bid to rid the country of the narcotics menace.
The efforts came after the police managed to arrest a number of drug dealers with over 22 kgs of narcotics in recent weeks.
The Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) too arrested a drug dealer with 11 « kgs of drugs in his possession.
The police also noted that drug use and peddling were both rampant in the coastal areas which were being used as the hub to smuggle in drugs.
Many drug dealers use trawlers and day boats to smuggle in narcotics from India and Pakistan. He added that the sea routes were useful to traffickers.
"Sri Lanka has been noted as a transit country for narcotics," says SSP Hettiarachchi.
Tourism expected to pick up by February
Tourism experts believe that the country's tourist industry which suffered drastically from the tsunami disaster is likely to pick up after February next year if positive signs about peace are sent out.
They say that while decisions on the peace process are yet to be made by both the LTTE and the newly elected president, tourists were likely to arrive in the country during the February - March season if a positive sign on the peace process is delivered.
According to the Central Bank Annual Report for 2004, Sri Lanka's tourism industry recorded the highest ever arrivals of 555,200 tourists last year. Gross earnings from tourism increased from US$340 million in 2003 to US$413 million in 2004.
The total earnings, including earnings from visiting non-resident Sri Lankans too has increased by 10% to US$513 million. The gross expenditure on travel has also increased by 6% to US$296 million in 2004 as a result of more Sri Lankans choosing to travel abroad. (JN)
Govt. to formulate agriculture policy
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
The government is to formulate a National Agricultural Policy.
Following a memorandum submitted by Agriculture Minister Maithripala Sirisena, the cabinet on Wednesday (30) approved the appointment of a committee to study the matter.
According to Government Spokesperson and Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, the committee to formulate the policy framework will include members of all political parties, non governmental organisations and the private sector.
Yapa said that the committee would address issues currently faced by the agriculture sector.
According to the last Central Bank economic policy review released in November, the growth momentum in the economy is continuing with strong contributions from the services and industry sectors. Even though the growth in the agriculture sector declined during the first half of 2005 mainly due to the poor performance in the
fishing industry as a result of the adverse impact of the tsunami, other sub-sectors have shown an improved performance.
The plantation crops - paddy as well as other subsidiary food crops - are continuing to grow benefiting from the favourable weather conditions.
The Yala paddy harvest in 2005 has been estimated at 1,114 thousand metric tonnes, which is an increase of 16 per cent over Yala 2004. The performance during the first half of 2005 and leading indicators of real sector activities show that the country is progressing to achieve a growth of 5.3 per cent as projected for 2005.
CA directs PGIM to enter student's name in pass list
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
In a landmark case, the Court of Appeal has directed the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM) to enter the name of a post graduate student in the pass list as the manner in which the Board of Study conducted itself at the examination "shocked the conscience of the court."
The court citing a case heard before the US Supreme Court said that the law has reached its finest moments when it has freed a man from the unlimited discretion of some ruler, civil official or bureaucrat.
"The process of making a decision should not be shrouded in secrecy and there should be no obscurity as to what the decision is and who is responsible for making it.
"The court does not dispute that those who are entrusted with the task of achieving the goals of the PGIM must necessarily have an academic discretion to decide on the examination criteria.
However, this has to be done within legal limits. If the court finds that the power has been exercised oppressively or unreasonably or if there has been some procedural failing, the act maybe condemned as unlawful," the court held during the course of its judgment.
The court also held upon a detailed analysis of the Universities Act in conjunction with the PGIM Ordinance, that in view of the fact that post graduate degrees are in fact conferred by the University of Colombo, to which the PGIM is attached, the Senate of the University of Colombo is the final authority and that the scheme
of the Act and the PGIM Ordinance demonstrates that there must be regulations in force - pertaining to all matters regarding courses of study and examinations in the relevant speciality of medicine, which includes marking schemes for post graduate exams.
It was also considered to be the bounden duty of the Board of Study in Ophthalmology to draft such regulations and to submit the same to the Board of Management for consideration, which would in turn forward the same to the Senate for enactment and thereafter for approval by the Council of the university.
Since the petitioner, Dr. Shiranthi Perera, has already secured marks in excess of the minimum pass mark required to pass the exam, the court held that failing the petitioner on the sole basis of the failure to secure 18 marks in the clinical component, which was not a legal requirement was unlawful and therefore directed that
the petitioner's name be included in the new pass list to be issued by the PGIM and also issued a Writ of Certiorari quashing that part of the marking scheme which required a candidate to secure 18 marks in the clinical component in Ophthalmology.
The court also ordered that the Board of Study in Ophthalmology to pay Dr. Perera a sum of Rs. 25,000 as costs. Dr. Perera, a medical officer attached to the Department of Health also reading for a post graduate degree in ophthalmology conducted by the PGIM of the Colombo University challenged her failure at the MD
(Ophthalmology) Part II on several grounds.
Dr. Perera cited that the marking scheme was not countenanced by law and had not been subject to the ratification process required by law.
The cited respondents in the case were the University of Colombo, Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo, Prof. T. Hettiarachchi, Director General of Health Services, Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage, Director, Post Graduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM), Prof. Lalitha Mendis and 75 others.
The petitioner was represented by Sanjeewa Jayawardena with Priyanthi Gunaratne and Rajeev Amarasuriya instructed by G. G. Arulpragasam.
Dr. Jayantha Almeida Gunaratne PC with Kishali Pinto Jayawardena appeared for the University of Colombo. Director, PGIM was represented by Deputy Solicitor General, A. Gnanathasan.
CCD to plant mangroves on coastline
By Risidra Mendis
Following studies that show mangroves as a natural shield that could protect and lessen the impact of natural disasters like tsunamis, the Coast Conservation Department (CCD) has commenced a programme to grow mangroves and other native plants on the coastline.
The CCD together with Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and government organisations will work on a long term plan to plant mangroves and native plant species such as vetakeiya and mudilla along the coastal belt in a bid to strengthen natural shields that were devastated a year ago.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Project Co-coordinator, CCD Coastal Green Belt Project, B. H. J. Premathilake said native plants such as vetakeiya and mudilla had to be planted in some places where mangroves cannot be grown. "Mangroves can be grown only in coastal lagoons and estuaries. The planting of mangroves in
estuaries and coastal lagoons in Kosgoda, with the assistance of the Turtle Conservation Project and Hambantota with the assistance of the Bio Diversity Project commenced a few days ago.
However the planting of native plant species in Galle, Batticaloa, the Eastern Province and the Southern Coastal belt commenced around four months ago," Premathilake said.
At present around 60,000 vetakeiya, mudilla and other native plant species have been planted by the CCD in identified coastal areas that faced the ravages of the sea. However, Premathilake could not confirm the number of mangrove plants already planted as this part of the project commenced recently.
"The CCD promotes deep rooted plants for the first 20 metres to face the energy of the waves. Deep-rooted plants also help stabilise the soil that has also taken a severe beating. According to research done in Tokyo, if mangroves are grown on a width of 50 metres, the plantation can reduce the velocity of the tsunami
waves by 35%. The Moratuwa University intends doing more research on this subject," says Premathilake.
According to Premathilake these plants help in reducing the impact of the floating objects that come with the tsunami waves. The Forest Department nurseries provide some of the plants to the CCD.
"We hope to promote the growing of coconut and palmyrah species beyond 25 metres along the coastline. We are working with NGOs to acquire the necessary funds and the coconut cultivators to commence this programme. If we start this program we will be helping those unemployed in the area as well" Premathilake added.
Ice cream vendors in hot water
By Ranee Mohamed
Residents living down the lanes and by-lanes of Dehiwala are considering forwarding a written protest to environmental authorities about the noise that ice cream sellers of certain brands are making.
"These vendors come in their mobile ice cream parlours and make such a din that none of us could take an afternoon rest," complained a senior citizen living in Dehiwala.
"The noise is musical no doubt, but it is so annoying and at the hours between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. when many housewives and children are taking a rest after the day's chores, these men come along with their non-stop tune trying to sell their ice creams," he pointed out.
Another resident of Dehiwala said something must be done to stop this 'sickening music' that is associated with certain brands of ice cream. "There is nothing we could do. The lady next door is resting after serious brain surgery. She is in so much pain. These ice cream vendors arrive everyday between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at
a time when few people in these houses would want to eat an ice cream. They come and do their rounds several times, not wanting to leave," said this resident.
Residents of several lanes of Dehiwala have banded together to make a complaint to all the authorities concerned about the disturbance to the peace and quiet caused by these errant sellers.
"They ought to be near schools or other places where there are children looking for ice creams. It is very unlikely that they would make a grand sale in residential areas. I think the marketing managers of these ice cream manufacturers ought to rethink their strategies and let us have some peace," said the residents.
Meanwhile, the government has undertaken a new initiative to introduce upper limits for all types of noises, and the residents of Dehiwala feel that the newly created 'nuisances' such as these also deserve their attention.
North, east yet to see tsunami reconstruction
By Jamila Najmuddin
Almost a year after the December 26 tsunami which left thousands of people homeless, non governmental organisations have maintained that areas affected by the devastation in the north and east have remained the worst affected with very little construction carried out in order to redevelop the
Despite the government's repeated assurance in providing land, hundreds of victims continue to languish in makeshift camps and tents and according to information released by non-governmental organisations, more than 250,000 people remain displaced without adequate means of housing.
According to a report titled 'Post Tsunami Relief And Rehabilitation - A Violation of Humans Rights' published by Housing and Land Rights Network, Habitat International Coalition, nearly 150,000 houses were completely or partially damaged in Sri Lanka. Most of these were located along the coastal belt.
The report states that for people who lost their homes and all their belongings, the allocation of suitable alternate accommodation should be a top priority of all relief agencies.
"Despite sufficient funding, the housing needs of the tsunami survivors have not been met. Government officials and politicians have followed a policy of either ignoring the housing issue, evading it, or offering ad hoc solution to their supporters. None of these were acceptable solutions to the massive problems of
housing and resettlement created by the tsunami," the report states.
The report adds that the major problem in Sri Lanka was that the process for allocating and building temporary housing has been painfully slow and uncoordinated, with people languishing in emergency shelters even after 11 months.
The timeframe for both emergency and temporary housing is constantly being extended - flouting all internationally accepted norms - for various reasons ranging from lack of concern and priority, lack of participation and consultation with the affected communities, and lack of coordination and planning.
Met office issues lightning, storm warning
Warnings have been issued to the public to pay attention to increased lightning that would last till early next week while turbulence in the Indian Ocean continues to cause rough seas and strong gusts of wins.
Since Monday afternoon (28), a depression has formed in the south central Bay of Bengal, approximately about 850 kilometres east of Trincomalee which has once more altered the island's weather pattern.
According to Deputy Meteorologist, D. J. A. Weerawardena "this has now deepened into a cyclonic storm." The cyclone will influence largely the seas of Jaffna and Pottuvil which are expected to be significantly rough.
The cyclone is moving in the northwesterly direction. However Weerawardena explained that it is difficult to say if this cyclone would adversely affect the country. Meanwhile, the department warns people to take precautions against lightning.
Avoiding wide-open spaces and pools of water during lightning and staying indoors during times of severe lightning are musts, according to the department warnings. The conditions are said to end by the end of this week, though to be followed by the northeast monsoon.
Weerawardena also added that scattered showers could be expected in the northeastern parts of the island while the other parts could expect thunder showers during the day or especially at nights during the next few days.
Last week saw a low pressure condition in the south of the Bay of Bengal region that caused low pressure leading to heavy rainfall in many parts of the island. The Meteorology Department’specially warns people from Puttalam to Pottuvil against rough seas and strong winds.
The heavy rains which the country experienced recently had displaced over 60,000 families and killed 12 people. Bad weather has interfered with public transport and several hill country bound trains have been temporarily halted due to the threat of earth slips.
Germany grants euro 36 million
The government of the Federal Republic of Germany will make a grant of euro 36 million for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by the tsunami.
The cabinet memorandum forwarded by former Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama on the matter was approved last week.
Of the total amount, euro 10 million will be allocated for rehabilitation, reconstruction and modernisation of vocational training institutes, euro 10 million for infrastructure development, euro 4 million for housing, euro 3.5 million to strengthen the implementation mechanism, euro 3.5 million to develop education facilities
and social care and euro 5 million to develop the micro and small enterprises.
However, a total sum of US$ 403 million in foreign aid is expected to be disbursed for the tsunami related projects in 2006.
The tsunami rebuilding programmes have received long term pledges made by the donor community.
The total amount pledged by the donor community for a three-year period, spanning from 2005-2008 is US$ 2,218.3 million.
However, the total commitments for the three-year period stand at US$ 1,504 million.