truce for Hambantota
war against drought continues with lakhs still without food and
By Nalaka Nonis
Governments have changed and the focus of attention
may have shifted elsewhere but the Hambantota district still continues
as a living hell with people being forced to trudge upto five kilometers
to get some water while hundreds of children have no strength to
even walk to schools.
More than 400,000
people in Suriyawewa, Meegahapimbura, Maththala, Tissamaharama,
Hambanthota, Ambalanthota, Weeraketiya, Wekandara and other areas
of the district are being tormented by the blue sky over them that
refuses to shed any tears. The earth beneath their feet cried for
water and now remains cracked.
when Hambantota experienced some rain, the people there rejoiced
thinking that more than two years of drought had ended. But it was
like sprinkling some water on a hot frying pan. The drought has
returned to prolong the agony.
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has appealed
to donors to send relief aid to the district while reports say that
some people in the area are forced to survive on green leaves or
some edible tree leaves.
The main problem the people face is water. Children are seen digging
dried up tanks and carrying home muddy water. Some dig their wells
deeper and deeper.
the people said the only tap in the village gets water once a week
and that too for a few hours.
Sabhas have stopped sending bowsers to the villages. Inquiries revealed
that the Sabhas were unable to meet the high cost of hiring bowsers
and getting down water from other districts.
senior government official said arrangements were being made to
supply water to the drought-hit areas.
has also contributed to food shortage in the area. Lack of rain
has forced them to abandon their paddy cultivation, which is their
main source of living. It has also affected the personal hygiene
of the people.
There is a rise in cases of dysentery, diarrhoea, and other water-borne
diseases. Hospitals in the district have also recently recorded
a gradual increase in dengue and viral fever.
Meanwhile school principals in the district say there has been a
drastic drop in school attendance. In the words of one principal,
the children simply do not have strength to attend classes.
Deputy Health Minister Sajith Premadasa, who represents the area
in parliament, said arrangements were being made to provide immediate
relief to affected people.
Tortured over toddy
By Laila Nasry
The Supreme Court has granted leave to proceed
to a 50-year-old farmer who alleges he has been tortured by toddy-hunting
police officers and later falsely charged for possessing kasippu.
The Bench comprising
Justices Mark Fernando, D.P.S. Gunesekera and T.B. Weerasooriya
also directed the Registrar to call for medical reports from the
Deniyaya hospital where petitioner A.R. L. Ananda was warded after
he was allegedly attacked by the police officers.
ordered the Deputy Inspector General of Police of the Southern Province
to forward a copy of the report submitted by him to the Magistrate's
Court in terms of an order made on July 8.
The case was
fixed for hearing on September 26.
citing Witharana and Mendis two Reserve Police Sergeants of the
Deniyaya Police, as respondents among others, states that on June
3, the two officers in civvies came to his home and aimed a pistol
at him asking for toddy.
He said the
officers began to beat him in the presence of his wife, brothers
and six children in a humiliating manner, when he told them he had
officers then ordered him to come to the police station where his
signature was obtained on a blank document, under threat.
night, he was released from police custody, with a warning that
he should not make any complaint to any higher authority, the petitioner
He said he
had been admitted to the Deniyaya Base Hospital where he received
treatment for seven days. Further he was also compelled to obtain
the hospital, Mr. Ananda said he made a complaint to the ASP of
Weligama-Akuressa area - the third respondent.
states on June 5, the Officer in Charge of the Deniyaya Police had
filed a plaint against him in the Magistrates Court of Morawaka
falsely charging him with the possession of 80 drums of illicit
liquor, an offence punishable under the Excise ordinance.
Mr. Ananda said he pleaded not guilty to the charge and alleged
it was an attempt to cover up the torture.
Gas turbine still under repair
With the CEB still struggling to put the 160 MW Fiat Gas
Turbine back into operation, the threat of a power crisis is becoming
more and more a reality, CEB sources said.
They said repair
work on the turbine at Kelanitissa which broke down last month began
two weeks ago but the two technicians sent by the Italian Fiat company
had still not completed it.
said the company should have sent engineers instead of technicians.
The gas turbine
is expected to meet 10% of the daily power requirement.
power crisis, operation of the turbine was cited as one of the short
term projects by the Minister of Power and Energy.
never functioned completely for a long period, and had broken down
27 times since it was commissioned in 1997.
five member ministerial committee appointed to look into the Upper
Kotmale project submitted the report to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
was appointed after CWC leader and Minister Arumugam Thondaman raised
queries on ecological threats the project could pose to plantation
has recommended that the project can go ahead with safeguards to
prevent environmental hazards.
Ex-DIG meets White House anti-drugs chief
A retired Sri Lankan DIG and now a top Interpol official,
R. Sundaralingam, held a meeting with the Chief Policy Adviser to
President George Bush on the global drug trade which is virtually
discussion last week with John Walters at his White House Drug Control
Office, the DIG had highlighted how the markets and sources were
getting closer, the drug syndicates were forming consortiums to
avoid losses and that drugs are getting cheaper, purer and deadlier.
They also discussed
about how several millions of dollars accrued in the drug trade
are now being invested in legitimate enterprises, and how the mafia
clans are in a position to buy over the corrupt and intimidate the
It was DIG
Sundaralingam who established the Narcotics Bureau in Colombo in
1973, and is now recognized as an International Drug Consultant
by several international and regional police and customs agencies.
He has also
had the distinction of making the keynote presentati
on for the
last ten consecutive years at the European Police Chief's Conference.
Kadir's cancer centre dream a reality soon
The Indian Government has decided to donate a US$ 7.5 million
Cancer Centre to Sri Lanka.
offer comes after a proposal made by former Foreign Minister Lakshman
Kadirgamar to Dr. Pratap Reddy Chairman Apollo Group of Hospitals
in March 2000.
that India gift the Government of Sri Lanka a hospital as it had
done to the Maldives was made by Mr. Kadirgamar while he was receiving
medical treatment at the Apollo Hospital in New Delhi.
that it should be a high-tech cancer institute because the incidence
of cancer in Sri Lanka is high and our cancer treatment facilities
are woefully inadequate," Mr. Kadirgamar said.
He said he
also discussed the matter with former Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant
Singh and exchanged correspondence.
2001, when I visited New Delhi the matter was discussed with Prime
Minister Vajpayee who confirmed that the gift would be made."
was that the Apollo Group would manage it on a non-profit basis,
and that the building would come up next to the new Apollo hospital
in Colombo, so that infrastructure facilities could be shared."
A special team
from Sri Lanka is to visit India to work out the modalities of this
project, the Indian High Commission said in a statement on Friday.
head for Army's logistics command
L L A Fernando, USP, who has been promoted to the rank of Major
General has assumed duties as Commander Logistics Command.
Fernando was the Director, Ordinance Services of the Army Headquarters
and Colonel Commandant of the Army Ordinance Corps. He has also
held many important appointments in operational areas. An old boy
of Sri Sumangala College, Panadura, he joined the army in July 1971.
Fundamental rights petition
'Nanchaku' cops allegedly attacked restaurant
Joint owners of a popular eatery in Ratnapura who allege
they had been victimised and their restaurant attacked for having
supported an opposition politician has obtained leave to proceed
from the Supreme Court.
The Bench comprising
Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and Justices Shirani Bandaranayake
and Hector S. Yapa also heard the application in support for interim
relief, allowing the petitioners to reopen the food centre.
told court that the Police closed down the food centre to avoid
a breach of peace and the key had been handed over to the father
of one of the owners.
counsel for the petitioners, refuted this claim.
moved for further time to obtain instructions from the Ratnapura
Superintendent of Police on the opening of the food centre and details
with regard to an inventory.
Priyantha Atukorale and Kirinda Vitharanage Sarath the joint owners
of the Sinharaja Food Centre in Kalawana, in their petition state
that on April 1, during the peak Vesak period their restaurant had
been stormed by Inspector Mallawarachchi, Sergeant Munasinghe and
Sergeant Senaratne, the 1st 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively
all of the Kalawana Police station.
the police team assaulted and abused their customers and the brother
of one of the petitioners, ordered the customers to sit on the floor,
fired shots in the rear outer portion of the premises, smashed and
destroyed fixtures, furniture including tables and chairs and locked
the food centre after chasing away the customers. The petitioners
state the food centre remains losed to date.
In the petition
it is stated the 1st respondent was armed with a karate weapon known
as nanchaku. When petitioner Atukorale approached the scene he had
been dragged out of his vehicle by a group of persons known to be
supporters of UNP parliamentarian Susantha Punchinilame. Mr. Atukorale
said he was assaulted as he was a supporter of PA parliamentarian
that the police officers, instead of stopping the assault, joined
the group to assault him further.
He also alleged
that the attackers got away with Rs. 76, 000 and his gold chain
and bracelet worth Rs. 80,000. Petitioner Sarath was also assaulted.
The petition also states that Mr. Atukorale and 17 others at the
food centre were arrested by the Kalawana Police and hauled before
a magistrate's court on a false charge of possessing a hand bomb.
are praying for court to grant a declaration that their fundamental
rights have been infringed, a directive to the Inspector General
of Police to hold an investigation into the matter, a directive
to institute legal proceedings against the perpetrators, interim
relief permitting the re-opening of the Food centre and compensation.
A ruling on
interim relief is expected to be given on Thursday.