Menon summons SL High Commissioner and gives
New Delhi/Colombo, Oct. 17 (IANS) With the
political temperature rising in Tamil Nadu
over the situation in Sri Lanka, Foreign
Secretary Shivshankar Menon on Friday
summoned Sri Lankan High Commissioner C.R.
Jayasinghe and asked Colombo to "take steps"
to stop the violence that has severely
affected Tamil civilians in the island
"India expressed grave concerns over the
ongoing violence in Sri Lanka. He asked
Colombo to take concrete steps to stop the
military offensive in Sri Lanka," an
official source said after Menon summoned
Jayasinghe to South Block, the seat of the
External Affairs Ministry, to register
India's unhappiness with the situation in
This is the third message from
to Colombo in the last three days.
With Tamil Nadu MPs threatening to resign en
masse if the violence against innocent
Tamils is not stopped in
Menon again impressed upon Colombo to pursue
a negotiated political solution, rather than
continue with military means to settle the
decades-old ethnic feud.
Menon also asked
Colombo to ensure that the harassment and killing of Indian
fishermen in neighbouring areas are stopped
Menon's decision to summon the Sri Lankan
envoy comes a day after President Mahinda
Rajapakse told The Hindu newspaper that his
government was committed to finding "a just
and enduring political solution" and there
were "no military solutions to political
New Delhi's growing impatience with
Colombo over the way the Sri Lankan
government has launched its biggest ever
offensive against the Tamil Tigers, leading
to much hardship and suffering for civilians
caught in the crossfire, the source said.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee
had sent a stern message to Colombo Thursday
asking it to shun "military means" and
pursue a political settlement that respects
the human rights of minorities in the island
"It is essential that their rights be
respected, that they be immune from attacks,
and that food and other essential supplies
be allowed to reach them," Mukherjee said.
In a clear warning to
Mukherjee said the Indian government would
"do all in its power to achieve this goal
and to ameliorate the humanitarian
conditions in Sri Lanka."
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday had
asked Sri Lanka to de-escalate hostilities
and pursue a negotiated political
In Colombo, India's High Commissioner Alok
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and
"concerns" over the situation in the north
"The discussion centered on current issues
pertaining to Indo-Sri Lanka bilateral
relations in the context of developments in
the North and the East of Sri Lanka.
Concerns being expressed in this regard in
India were conveyed to Minister Bogollagama
by the High Commissioner," the Foreign
Ministry here said in a statement.
Bogollagama responded that
was "fully conscious of the concerns being
expressed and understand the context in
which these matters are being raised."
"The Minister assured that in the spirit of
existing excellent bilateral relations, Sri
Lanka intends to further discuss these
issues bilaterally to address those
concerns. It was indicated that bilateral
consultation process in this regard could
continue at appropriate levels," the
Ministry statement said.
Basil to India for talks
Indian ministers resign over Wanni war
Indo Lanka relations turned into a crisis
situation last Friday over the plight of the
Wanni civilians with all of the seven
ministers from Tamil Nadu resigning from the
The decision was taken following an all
party meeting held last Tuesday (14) to call
the centre to intervene to halt the killing
of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
President Mahinda Rajapakse last week
directed Senior Presidential Advisor Basil
Rajapakse and President's Secretary Lalith
Weeratunga to proceed to New Delhi and
explain the Sri Lankan position and deny
charges of civilian casualties. They are to
also give an assurance of forwarding a
political solution within weeks.
India's NDTV quoting sources stated that Indian Foreign
Secretary Shivshankar Menon had summoned Sri
Lankan High Commissioner in
New Delhi, C.R. Jayasinghe last Friday to
concern over the situation in the north of
Cabinet Ministers of the Central government
from DMK, Shipping and Road Transport
Minister T. R. Baalu and Communications and
Information Technology Minister A. Raja, and
Ministers of State S. S. Palanimanickam,
Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan, S. Ragupathy, K.
Venkatapathy and Radhika Selvi decided to
hand over post-dated letters addressed to
the Speaker of Lok Sabha Somnath Chatterjee
to DMK Leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister,
It is learned that Finance Minister P.
Chidambaram and Health Minister Anbumani
Ramadoss will also follow suit.
In addition, three MPs of DMK had also
submitted their resignation from the Rajya
Sabha to Karunanidhi last week in Chennai.
The three MPs who resigned were Trichy Siva,
A. A. Jinnah and Vasanthi Stanley, following
resolution adopted at the all party meeting
held last week stating that all MPs from the
state would resign if the centre does not
intervene and workout a ceasefire in Sri
Lanka within two weeks.
MP Kanimozhi, the daughter of Karunandhi had
also submitted her resignation to
Karunanidhi soon after the meeting last
week. Five Tamil Nadu parties, DMK, PMK,
Communist Party of India (CPI), CPI
(Marxists) and Dalit Panthers gave an
ultimatum to the centre on the Sri Lankan
Tamil problem and warned that all MPs from
the state would resign, if the it failed to
pressurise Sri Lanka for a ceasefire within
two weeks. The DMK and other parties also
demanded that India should stop all military
take steps to halt the war, to ensure the
return of a ceasefire, and to assist the
Tamils who have been affected due to the
The Indian External Affairs Ministry in a
tough statement issued Friday made reference
grave concern over the plight of civilians
and said normalcy cannot be brought about by
military means or battlefield victories.
Calling for a peacefully negotiated
settlement which allows each community to
realise its own potential within a united
Sri Lanka, the External Affairs Ministry
warned the Government of India will do all
in its power to achieve this goal.
President and Indian
PM in telephone chat
Mahinda invited Pranab for talks
Mahinda Rajapakse spoke to Indian Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday and
extended an invitation for External Affairs
Minister Pranab Mukherjee to visit Sri Lanka
and study first hand the ground situation.
The President’s telephone call to the Indian
Premier was to assure New Delhi that there
was no basis for the allegations made by
Tamil Nadu that civilians were killed and
that there is a humanitarian crisis in the
The President earlier indicated to India he
would send Senior Presidential Advisor Basil
Rajapakse to explain Sri Lanka’s position
with regard to allegations levelled by Tamil
Nadu, but was advised by the hardline
elements in Government to extend an
invitation to Mukherjee instead to signal
Colombo was not ready to compromise on its
national integrity and sovereignty.
India had in separate statements last week
charged that civilians were killed in the
Wanni offensive and also accused the
Government of killing Indian fishermen and
demanded that the Government introduce a
political settlement. India also said it
will do everything in its power to ensure
those concerns are realised.
The Sunday Leader
learns India will not send Mukherjee to Sri
Lanka but await a visit from a Sri Lankan
envoy to explain what Colombo plans to do
with regard to the issues raised by India.
The option of sending Basil Rajapakse to New
Delhi however has not been ruled out, it is
Press Secretary of the Indian High
Commission in Colombo, Dinkar Asthana
confirmed the telephone call between the two
leaders, but said details of the discussion
were not available.
Cites 1971 Eady
India can intervene in SL says Karunanidhi
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has
been reported in the Indian media saying
could certainly intervene in Sri Lanka to
alleviate the sufferings of Tamil minorities
there, in the same way it did in then East
Pakistan in 1971.
India not intervene in
Bangladesh when needed?" the DMK chief has
reportedly told the Indian media when asked
how India could intervene in the affairs of
a foreign nation. He was referring to the
1971 India-Pakistan war that led to the
creation of a separate nation of Bangladesh.
Karunanidhi had addressed the media persons
after 14 party Lok Sabha MPs, including
central ministers T.R. Baalu and A. Raja,
handed over post-dated resignation letters
to him demanding an end to the violence in
"The decision about the resignations will be
taken finally on October 28, if the
situation does not improve," he had told the
The resignations came even as the central
government asked Sri Lanka to halt its
military offensive against the Tamil Tigers
in the island nation.
Earlier Friday evening, the ruling DMK had
announced that four of its Rajya Sabha MPs
had submitted post-dated resignation letters
to Karunanidhi on the issue.
A party spokesperson had said: "We have
great faith in the United Progressive
Alliance leadership at the centre and hope
the suffering of our brethren in the island
will end soon."
Karunanidhi's daughter and Rajya Sabha MP
Kanimozhi handed her resignation letter to
her father last Tuesday.
Tamil Nadu and the union
of Puducherry together have 40 members in
the Lok Sabha - all of who have offered to
quit if the government fails to take action
on the Sri Lankan issue.
Meanwhile, lawyers in
Coimbatore burnt an effigy of Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony
within the court premises earlier in the
day, alleging a conspiracy by bureaucrats of
Kerala origin to keep the Tamil minority in
Sri Lanka on tenterhooks.
GL warns of serious
economic impact if GSP is lost
International Trade Minister has informed
the government in writing that if Sri Lanka
loses the GSP Plus facility the impact on
the economy and the export trade will be
In a note to cabinet dated October 15,
Minister Peiris has pointed out that 100,000
jobs will be lost in the apparel sector with
another significant number in other export
sectors such as leather and rubber products,
fisheries products, ornamental fish, fruits
and vegetables, ceramics, bicycle components
The Minister has also said according to a
study done by the Sussex University Sri
Lanka could lose 2% of GDP if GSP Plus is
He has further said EU has become the number
one market for Sri Lanka's exports with the
year 2007 recording exports to the tune of
Indicating that Sri Lanka may well lose the
GSP Plus facility Minister Peiris has also
recommended a financial assistance package
to the industry which could run into
billions of rupees that may well have to
come from other sectors such as health and
education while also putting a salary freeze
for the state sector employees.
Minister Peiris has recommended a committee
under the chairmanship of the Central Bank
Governor and Secretary Finance Ministry to
work out the modalities of the financial
OPEC oil price falls to
US$ 63.34 on Friday
Govt won't reduce fuel prices
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
The government has not made any decision to
reduce local fuel prices despite the rapid
decline in global fuel prices since early
A statement released by the Central Bank
last Friday said that while Brent crude oil
had come down to US$ 66.02 but increased to
US$ 76 later, the OPEC Basket hit US$ 63.34.
Petroleum Minister A.H.M. Fowzie told The
Sunday Leader that there were no immediate
plans to reduce local fuel prices. "There's
no decision to reduce fuel prices. At least
not till the budget, which is next month,"
Fowzie said the government was yet to place
an order for a new shipment after the
decline in global oil prices since
"There are no immediate plans to reduce
local fuel prices. The CPC has incurred a
loss of Rs. 21 billion till October this
year. We need to recover that money," he
Fowzie explained that while the CPC incurred
a loss of Rs. 11 billion during the first
five months of this year and even after
increasing local fuel prices in May, the CPC
continued to incur losses.
"Since the government increased local fuel
prices only by 50% of the required price,
the CPC continued to incur losses amounting
to billions of rupees," he said.
However, Fowzie said the government did not
plan to make a full recovery of the losses
incurred through local fuel sales.
"We need to at least make a partial
recovery," he said.
Fowzie also said plans were afoot to submit
a proposal where local fuel prices would not
be subjected to any changes depending on the
global fuel prices.
"We are looking at forming a fixed price for
fuel from next year," he said.
He also said that while there was a chance
of local fuel prices being reduced at the
forthcoming budget, there were many aspects
to be considered before reducing local fuel
"One has to always consider the plight of
the country's economy," he said, adding ad
hoc adjustments of fuel prices cannot be
made, as it would have a negative impact on
The government meanwhile introduced a Rs. 15
and Rs. 10 import cess on petrol and diesel
respectively from last month.
However, sources attached to the CPC have
come down hard on the government claiming it
was not passing on the benefit of declining
global fuel prices to the local consumers.
"When the world market prices increase, the
government is quick to increase local
prices, but when there is a decline, local
fuel prices remain the same and new levies
are added to it. The government should
immediately bring down local fuel prices,"
According to sources, the government could
sell a litre of petrol for approximately Rs.
111 after purchasing a barrel of petrol at
US$ 108 and adding all the relevant taxes.
NTUC demands a salary
increase for all sectors
By Nirmala Kannangara
The JVP affiliated National Trade Union
Centre (NTUC) has urged the government to
increase the public, private and estate
sector salaries in the 2009 budget or face
serious consequences, NTUC sources said.
Besides the salary increases the NTUC has
also insisted that the government pay the
stalled cost of living (CoL) allowance and
the arrears, Convener NTUC, Samantha
Koralearatchi told The Sunday Leader.
"The people are suffering due to rising CoL
but the government has so far done nothing
to provide relief to the people. It is not
only the public sector that faces
difficulties but also the private and estate
sectors that draw a much lesser salary than
that of the public sector, badly need a
salary hike now as it is impossible to
survive with the rising CoL," claimed
According to Koralearatchi although the NTUC
on several occasions urged the government to
increase the salaries, its failure to
address these demands has pushed the working
class from pillar to post.
"The government stopped paying the CoL
allowance which was promised in the 2006
budget and instead was paying Rs.375 once in
six months. When we staged a protest against
the government's decision to curtail the CoL
allowance the government said that since the
Treasury has to spend billions of rupees on
the war they were not in a position to pay
the CoL allowance. If so how could the
government increase the salaries of the
ministers and parliamentarians despite the
war expenditure and from where did they find
the extra funds to maintain the world's
largest cabinet? Unlike the politicians the
working masses who contribute to the
country's economy request a mere Rs.5000
salary increase to live on," added
Koralearatchi further said that unless the
government took steps to grant a Rs. 5000
salary increase to the public, private and
estate sectors and the CoL allowances in the
2009 budget, the JVP affiliated NTUC is to
plan a series of agitations islandwide
followed by a general strike to win their
Change of route cited
Govt. blames UN for delaying goods to Wanni
By Arthur Wamanan
The reluctance of the WFP to transport
essential items could lead to food shortages
in the Wanni, a top government report said
The report by Commissioner General of
Essential Services, S.B. Divaratne on
October 10 handed over to President Mahinda
Rajapakse said that the UN was reluctant to
travel on the new route suggested by the
security forces in Wanni for its second
convoy on October 10.
"Under these circumstances, action by UN/WFP
to withhold this convoy is deplorable. This
action has impeded the uninterrupted
supplies to Wanni Districts for which WFP
should take the responsibilty.
The first convoy, which left on October 2,
travelled on the Vavuniya, Mankulam,
Oddusudan route. "However, the second convoy
was advised to take the route from Vavuniya,
Pullaiankulam, Nedunkeny and Oddusudan. This
change of route was decided due to security
reasons," the report said.
The report said the UN was not agreeable to
the new route, which resulted in the delay
of sending goods to the Wanni. The
government on October 13 sent a convoy of 20
trucks loaded with 300 metric tons of
essential items following the delay of the
"The Government is responsible to implement
the operation and for ensuring that the
commodities provided by WFP are properly
transported, received, handled and accounted
for and distributed to the beneficiaries,"
the report added. "Also, it will facilitate
the safe and unimpeded access for delivery
distribution and monitoring of these
commodities. Security clearance for relief
convoys that the government wish to send
including food donated by the WFP will rest
only on the Government and not on any
The second WFP convoy of 50 trucks loaded
with 750 metric tons of goods was forced to
turn back following clashes on the route of
the convoy last Thursday.
High casualty rate
Fierce battles South West of Kilinochchi
fighting broke out in areas south west of
Kilinochchi, when troops from the Army’s
57th Division attacked the massive defensive
earth bund constructed by Tigers on the bund
of the Akkarayankulam tank yesterday
The Defence Ministry said that troops had
launched an attack on the Tiger defences
early yesterday morning aimed at breaching
the defences, south west of Kilinochchi.
“Troops have run at the LTTE defence kept
along the earth bund and entered into the
remaining LTTE hiding areas in the area
north of Akkarayankulam tank. Pitched
battles are going on in the area, at
present,” the Ministry said yesterday
The Tigers have pitched substantial
resources and cadres into the defences that
run from Nachchikudah near northwestern
coast through Akkarayan and on to the A9 and
east of it. Heavy fighting first broke out
in the areas on September 2. The Ministry
said that senior Tiger cadre Bhanu was
believed to have led the cadres in areas
south west of Kilinochchi but moved out of
his command post yesterday.
The Ministry said that heavy clashes were
reported in the Nachchikudha area as well.
“Meanwhile, troops of Task Force 1 operating
in the South of Nachchikudha have commenced
their offensive march towards north early
this morning. Simultaneously, their fellow
troops are continuing to maintain the
southward thrust from Pallawarayankaddu
south. At present, Task Force 1 soldiers
have cut off all land access routes
available for the terrorists trapped in the
Nachchikudha terror stronghold,” it said.
There was no indication of casualty figures
but the ministry said that troops had
inflicted heavy damages to the Tigers.
Unconfirmed reports said that at least 27
soldiers had been killed and several dozens
injured in yesterday’s clashes. Meanwhile
the Army said that soldier who was shot and
injured by suspected Tiger fire in the Yala
Block II area on October 17 early evening
succumbed to his injuries yesterday.
Action on Sally’s
Decision on fate of CMC next week
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Province Governor Alavi Moulana yesterday
said a final decision on the Colombo
Municipal Council (CMC) would be taken
within the next few days.
Moulana told The Sunday Leader that
following the Supreme Court (SC) order last
week calling on the Western Province Chief
Minister to make submissions to court on
November 3 on corrective action taken as
recommended by a commission that probed
corruption in the council, he had already
had a discussion with Chief Minister
Reginald Cooray on the action to be taken.
A three-member panel of SC judges, headed by
Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva last Thursday
took up a petition filed by former CMC
deputy mayor Asath Salley and a group of 110
taxpayers alleging serious malpractices in
the CMC and the failure of the chief
minister to act on the recommendations made
by a commission that probed allegations of
corruption in the council.
The Chief Justice had noted the chief
minister has options to either remove the
chief administrative officer or councilors,
or dissolve the council under the powers
vested in him.
“We are in the process of discussing the
action to be taken. The problem has to be
rectified and there is no doubt about it. I
have already spoken to the Chief Minister
and also informed the President,” Moulana
He added that a final decision would be
arrived at before November 3.
When asked if the dissolution of the council
was being considered, Moulana said no
decision has yet been made and were still
conducting open discussions.
Former CMC deputy mayor, Salley told The
Sunday Leader that the chief minister
had failed to take any action despite the
commission of inquiry appointed by him had
found the CMC administration to be full of
corruption and malpractices.
“The commission found the council guilty of
six out of the eight charges leveled against
it. Although 10 months have lapsed since the
commission handed over its report, no action
has been taken,” Sally said.
CEB unions to oppose new
Electricity Draft Bill tooth and nail
By Nirmala Kannangara
The Government's decision to table the
proposed new Sri Lanka Electricity Draft
Bill in parliament on October 23 to repeal
the existing Act before the budget will
bring the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to
a complete standstill, the JVP affiliated
Lanka Viduli Sevaka Sangamaya (LVSS) told
The Sunday Leader.
Despite strong opposition by CEB employees,
the Power and Energy Ministry is to table
the new Draft Bill in parliament on October
23. But the CEB employees have decided to
resort to trade union action in the event
the controversial bill is passed, according
to Convener, LVSS Ranjan Jayalal.
"Now the minister claims that there is no
necessity to get alarmed, as under the new
draft bill the minister will be vested with
powers to take action against the corrupt
CEB officials which would in turn help to
streamline the CEB. If that is so, the
employees are ready to extend their
unstinted support for the Bill. But why
cannot the minister show us the new Draft
Bill and why did the minister cancel the
meeting with the trade union representatives
scheduled for Wednesday (15) at the last
moment? This shows that the minister is
reluctant to face us and also not ready to
divulge the amendments being made to the
existing Bill," claimed Jayalal.
Jayalal further said that a series of
protest campaigns has been organised to urge
the government to withdraw the Draft Bill
followed by lightning strikes in the event
the controversial Bill is passed. Plans are
also underway to lobby the opposition for
its support to defeat the Bill in
Power and Energy Minister John Seneviratne
was not available for comment.
Karuna - Pillayan clash
settled say Police
The tense situation, which prevailed in
Batticaloa last Friday following Karuna
cadres taking over the TMVP press, returned
to normal yesterday, police officials said.
Police spokesperson SSP Ranjith Gunasekara
said that the Karuna cadres had left the
Meenagam office and the press adjoining the
TMVP office by yesterday.
"The situation has been brought under
control. The Karuna people had vacated the
press," he said
The press is used by the TMVP to publish the
Tamil newspaper Tamil Alai.
TMVP spokesperson K. Iniyabharathi however
said that there were no major problems
reported from Batticaloa on Friday. He
denied reports that there was tension
between the Karuna cadres and Pillayan
loyalists last Friday.
"A group of persons had come to the press
and taken some of the newspapers. There was
a slight misunderstanding on the whole
issue. That was all. But there is no
friction between Karuna and Pillayan,"
It was reported on Friday that Karuna cadres
captured the Meenagam office in Batticaloa
and arrested more then 10 Pillayan
It was reported that the Karuna loyalists
had entered the Meenagam office and the
press of the Tamil Alai newspaper down
Govindan Street, Batticaloa, and had taken
over by force.
Pro-Tiger websites reported that Karuna's
men had captured 13 Pillayan loyalists
together with T-56 assault rifles.
killings: Police draw blank
There has been no headway made in the
investigations into the killing of four
persons in Akkaraipattu last week, police
The four persons, two Tamils and two Muslims
were killed by unidentified persons last
Thursday while farming.
Police Spokesperson SSP Ranjith Gunasekara
said that there have been no new
developments in the investigations.
In Moneragala last month, seven farmers were
killed and the military had requested the
civilians to be vigilant and inform the
security forces when they enter the jungle
The military said that there were reports of
LTTE activities in the jungles around
The police however could not comment on
whether last week's killings were also
carried out by the LTTE.
from CEB DGM
By Nirmala Kannangara
The CEB last week disconnected the power
supply to former Nation Building Minister
D.M. Dassanayake's Kurunegala residence and
office, which had an outstanding bill of
nearly Rs. 6 million for the past several
An explanation has been called from the
Deputy General Manager, Ceylon Electricity
Board (CEB), Kurunegala for his failure to
act against persons who had defaulted in the
payment of electricity bills.
Deputy Minister, Power and Energy,
Mahindananda Aluthgamage told The Sunday
Leader the CEB has called for the
explanation of DGM Kurunegala for his
failure to carry out his duties properly.
"Although it was highlighted that the
electricity bill of former minister
Dassanayake's residence and office had
exceeded Rs.8 million for the past 10 years
this is totally incorrect. Dassanayake took
over this house from the National Vocational
Training Centre a few years ago and
according to CEB data the former minister's
residence bill was Rs.1.8 million for the
past one and a half years," Aluthgamage