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Dengue mosquito domesticated – Eradication a knotty problem

The government seems to be taking genuine strong measures to curb the dengue menace by checking backyards house to house, imposing fines, imprisoning culprits for negligence and what not.
However, at least in the city of Colombo and suburbs, the mosquitoes must be laughing all the way to the next victim for, while the backyards are being inspected, cleared, fumigated and people being fined and put behind bars, the mosquitoes are having a rollicking time laying the eggs on the heaps of garbage on the main roads.

The other day from the Dehiwela Junction to the supermarket alone I counted five heaps of garbage. We must realise that these are wonderful breeding grounds for the mosquitoes and no amount of clearing the backyards of the houses is going to help in eradicating the mosquitoes until these garbage dumps are got rid of.
Similarly right along the lanes, most of the drains are clogged up and over time when there is a shower the water stagnates creating wonderful breeding medium.

Therefore, what is really needed at present is acquiring the wholehearted participation of the citizens which must be harnessed using much more vigorous advertisements and persuasion of proper disposal of garbage and prevention of water collection everywhere.
Without these we are fighting a loosing battle and what a shame if after conquering the 30 - year terrorist war, we cannot conquer this tiny mosquito. Doing a little search on dengue, I came across the following interesting facts about this minute but deadly enemy.

Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the virus causing dengue, is small in comparison to others, usually between three to four millimetres in length discounting leg length. It is totally black apart from white ‘spots’ on the body and head regions and white rings on the legs. The thorax is decorated with a white ‘lyre’ shape of which the ‘chords’ are two dull yellow lines.
Many people believe mosquitoes only live two or three days, but in actual fact, left unmolested they can live for months. The males of all species of mosquitoes do not bite humans or animals of any species, they live on fruit. Only the female bites for blood which she needs to mature her eggs. The eggs of most species are laid together in a raft form, but Aedes lays her eggs separately thus allowing them to spread over large surfaces of water if conditions permit, this way the eggs stand a better chance of survival.
Most species lay their eggs in any type of water, mainly dirty or even polluted. Not Aedes, she only lays her eggs in clean water which contains no other living species.

The mosquito’s preferred breeding areas are in areas of stagnant water, such as flower vases, uncovered barrels, buckets, and discarded tyres, but the most dangerous areas are wet shower floors and toilet tanks, as they allow the mosquitoes to breed right in the residence.
Research has shown that certain chemicals emanating from bacteria in water containers stimulate the female mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
They are particularly motivated to lay eggs in water containers that have just the right amounts of specific fatty acids associated with bacteria involved in the degradation of leaves and other organic matter in water. The chemicals associated with the microbial stew are far more stimulating to discerning female mosquitoes than plain water, for example, filtered water in which the bacteria once lived. Aedes does well even in chlorinated water.

When freshly laid the eggs are white but soon turn black in colour.
After a few weeks or even shorter in the summer, the larvae reach the pupa stage; The young larvae feed on bacteria in the water; this stage is usually very short and the pupae rise to the surface of the water where the top of the pupal case opens like the lid on a can and out emerges the new adult. This life cycle can be complete in 1.5 to 3 weeks.
After the mosquito feeds on a virus-carrier, the virus starts to replicate in the mosquito. After eight to 12 days incubation period the mosquito can transmit the virus on subsequent feeding attempts (several times per day is not uncommon) depending on the availability of the host. Feeding generally occurs at one to two hour intervals.

The virus remains in the salivary glands of the mosquito, and when she bites for food, she injects saliva into the wound where the anti-coagulants contained in her saliva facilitate feeding, without knowing it she also injects the virus into the host.
The eggs can survive for very long periods in a dry state, often for more than a year. Since the virus can be passed from adult to egg then the virus too is guaranteed survival until the next summer and heavy rains.
Aedes aegypti, unlike other species is very intelligent, if one could say that mosquitoes are intelligent. Living near man for so long she has become totally dependant on him and has learned a lot from him.

For instance, she has greatly reduced the `humming’ sound she makes with her wings so man cannot hear it, unlike other species whose humming is extremely irritating and awakens the deepest sleeper. She never lives more than ninety metres from dwellings thus guaranteeing her meals. She attacks from below or behind, usually from underneath desks or chairs and mainly at the feet and ankles. The insect is very fast in flight unless gorged with blood. Other types of mosquito even fly into your face and can be easily caught or killed, not Aedes, she’s too smart.

There are no intermediate animal vectors for the virus, it seems the system is contained in man/mosquito/man relationships. Aedes is very domesticated, as much as your pet dog or cat, most mosquitoes can live in forested areas a long way from humans and live on animal blood, not Aedes, she relies on man and will only bite animals in his total absence, although the female does actually take juices from various types of fruit at times.
There are actually four virus types. The first infection is `mild’ in comparison to the second and following infections, this is referred to as ‘classical dengue fever,’ very high fever (40C) and ‘heavy flu’- type symptoms with extreme pains in the joints and eye orbits. The second infection can and usually results in haemorrhagic dengue, where bleeding occurs from the eyes, nose and other more remote parts of the body.
Source: ehttp://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/indexmag.html?http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/art98/aedrol.html

Dr. Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai
– Dehiwela


Kerawalapitiya Natural Liquid Gas Plant -Confusion, conflicts and contradictions

The comprehensive article on the setting up of a Natural Liquid Gas (NLG) plant in your Sunday Nation of May 31, throws light on the confusion, contradiction and conflicts between the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and the Ministry of Power and Energy, where it says that a foundation stone has been laid for a NLG power plant by a private company with the blessings of the Minister for Power and Energy, W. D. J. Seneviratne, although the statutory requirements for such an undertakings have not been fulfilled.
It is revealed that neither a Letter of Intent (LoI) nor a Power Purchasing Agreement has been signed with the CEB. However, the CEB has sought the opinion of the Attorney General. It should be mentioned that, in no uncertain terms, the CEB had all along objected introduction of NLG into their system.

It should be recalled that foreign lending agencies USAJD 2002, World Bank 2004, Japan International Cooperation Agency 2006 and our own experts and consultants and CEB engineers have done similar studies and their findings were that NLG is not an economical source of power generation for Sri Lanka. According to experts on this subject of pricing, they all conclude that NLG is expensive. The CEB engineers in an article to The Island of May 27 state, “Though LNG is cheaper power generating option than diesel, it is far more expensive than coal. Also, an NLG power plant requires a terminal to supply NLG. The cost of the NLG terminal is very high. The CEB would be later compelled to purchase energy from the plant paying a high capacity charge. Capacity charge is a payment that is made irrespective of whether the plant is generating power or not and constitute the investment done for power plant and its profits.”

In January 2009, in an article in The Island it was reported that Minister W. D. J. Seneviratne has instructed the Lanka Transformer Company Ltd. to supply electricity at Rs. 18 per unit. Can a private company sell electricity to the CEB at Rs. 18 per unit when the production cost is nearly Rs. 40? Why should the minister dictate to the private company and why is this haste and personal interest against the advice of the CEB and all experts, local and foreign?
When all these confusions take place, in an article in the Financial Review of The Island of May 27, captioned ‘LNG Energy awaits Japanese Study’, the Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy says, “SLNG is a matter under consideration by CEB. Because there is a MoU signed with the Japanese Government to do a study. Once this study is carried out only we will take a decision whether to go ahead to permit construction of this plant at Kerawelapitiya.” With this authoritative statement from none other than the Secretary to the Ministry for Power and Energy, it is pertinent to question, as to why did the minister allow construction of this plant? What is worse is that, in a photograph appearing in another newspaper, he along with another minister was seen cutting the first sod. Why is this haste and personal interest to commit the CEB and the country to allow a private company to commence work?

Added to this melee of confusion, there had been conflicts and differences of opinion between the CEB and the minister/ministry on matters of deviating tender procedure, purchases, etc. This cannot be allowed to go on and cripple the CEB, which supplies a vital utility, to face further financial difficulties, which of course will be passed over to the consumer. That’s you and me.
This writer has repeatedly written to the press to probe this ministry, to set up a competent committee of knowledgeable men in this field, by the government. Or the newly appointed or formed Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) under the new Electricity Act should act immediately to stop any further work. If necessary, the CEB or the PUCSL move courts to get a ‘Stay Order’ till such time matters are sorted out and regularised either to continue or reject.

This should be done without further delay. If the private company has commenced work and has already incurred expenditure let them bear the loss or sue the party which authorised them to carry out or commence work.
Let this letter also be considered a submission to the PUCSL by a consumer and act past, before matters get worse for the CEB, consumers and the country as a whole.

G. A. D. Sirimal


Plunder of armed forces victory

From the day the LTTE terrorism was suppressed, the credit from all worthy sources was publicly announced, as the success of the armed forces with the courageous and able guidance given by the President and the Defence Secretary. Numerous political groups have made claims of their past commitments to complement the success of the armed forces. But (Island 04.06.09) Dr. Mareena Thaha Raffai of Dehiwala has submitted a religious claim. Religious thoughts and practices of an individual or groups should be respected and the writer is a strong believer of such respect. Yet, she claims that success was an answer to their religious prayers with All Mighty “giving us a leader who decided to do whatever it takes to crush terrorism.”

She is entitled to her religious contention, but with such thoughts she attempts to demean the efforts and the success of the armed forces, though it may not be her intention. Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected President because majority of the people had lost confidence in Ranil Wickramasinghe after he signed a Peace Agreement with the LTTE surrendering many rights and privileges to the LTTE and without consulting the then Executive President and Parliament. Thus, it was the wish and the desire of the majority of all communities and religious faiths and no prudent person will attribute the Presidential election success and the armed forces success to the prayers of any particular religious group or of an individual. If as claimed, the success over terrorism was due to prayers, such prayers should have been made much earlier and before thousands from the forces and the very young Tamil students got killed and maimed being compelled against their parents wishes to join the LTTE.

The world over acts of terrorists blowing up buildings including religious places are taking place and recently a plane with 228 passengers disappeared; but All Mighty with such prayers from the faithful has not succeeded in ending world terrorism. Thus, it is the human factor that finally has a say and the sacrifice the youth from villages joining the lower ranks of the armed forces and ga1antly advancing amid many LTTE ground obstructions were the base of the success. It is the human factor, the mind of the individuals in the front of the armed forces advances that brought success.
Political fanatics, religious fanatics are found in every country and it is such persons who with fanatic claims caused the foundation for the prolonged LTTE debacle. And thus, claims that could cause internal dissension among numerous groups should be avoided by all citizens.

Concerned citizen


Deafening din of hooting horns

There is a bus halt located almost in front of the Maradana Post Office at Punchi Borella Junction. There is a mad scramble by bus crews to get the maximum passengers into their own bus. The bus first in line takes its time to load passengers while the several other buses behind (some of which have even jumped the red traffic light thereby blocking traffic) continuously blast their trumpet horns creating a deafening din.
The staff at the Post Office is compelled to undergo this torture during working hours every working day. I wonder how they do it. The worst affected are those at the counter, at times even including expectant mothers.
This noise pollution might cause permanent injury to the staff.
Can some action be taken to help these poor souls?



Unguarded railway crossing at Jarandagahawatta

Installing an electric gate is the most pressing need at the unprotected railway crossing at Jarandagahawatta, Payagala South. Some years back at this point there was a wooden barrier and a gatekeeper round the clock. All of a sudden it was withdrawn by the Railway Department.
This railway crossing is at a very dangerous spot as there is a hairpin bend, which is unnoticeable when the train approaches.
This cross road leads to the newly built Tsunami housing scheme and is used by many commuters.
If the relevant authorities pay attention and take necessary action, it will be a great service to the public.

C. M. Kamburuwala


China and Pakistan’s support and India’s envy

The government of India (Daily Mirror 12.06.09.) reported, “Top government officials in New Delhi have told Asia Times Online that India believes Colombo stockpiled arms and even sought help from military commanders from China and Pakistan,” to suppress the LTTE terrorism. A country that does not officially manufacture even an ordinary gun is compelled to seek the help of friendly nations to supply the required arms. It is Sri Lanka’s (SL) privilege to pick and choose the countries and the stockpiling of requirements, as at short notice adequate supplies cannot be received. India cannot deny that it stockpiles adequate arms, may be their own products, but stockpiling either way justifies and fulfills the needs of a country. With Independence India, Sri Lanka and all countries that experienced British Imperialism sought the assistance of Britain and many other countries to train their armed forces and for the supply of required arms.

India cannot grumble as their sympathy to the LTTE was not a secret and was the godfather of LTTE terrorism. India initially trained and armed the LTTE and from the time of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. India enforced on Sri Lanka against their wishes to terminate Sri Lanka armed forces efforts to suppress the LTTE terrorism at the very beginning and also forced on us the costly and unproductive system of Provincial Councils. India is the creator of terrorism in Asia and they themselves are now experiencing armed uprisings, tribal disputes and terrorism.

India after Jawaharlal Nehru, observed a regional superpower hegemonic pre-planned operation. As a result with their arms power made a division of Pakistan to weaken them with the creation of Bangladesh. In the same manner to create another division in tiny Sri Lanka, India trained and armed the LTTE hoping to make Sri Lanka a satellite of India. Even during the last days of the triumphant success to suppress the LTTE India made many attempts to stop the armed forces action but the courage and the wisdom of our President led to the end of the LTTE without attempting to antagonise India and the prejudicial Western countries. On the question of Ceylon Tamils in 1961 responding to question in Parliament by a South Indian MP Nehru had responded, “entirely improper, absolutely improper, to get in touch with leaders of opposition parties and agitational parties in another country” ( A Decade of Confrontation by John Gooneratne.

Therefore Sri Lanka should not allow too many Indian Government or private enterprises to commence operations though some ministers are keen, and we could become Indian victims. They are bound to introduce Indian staff on numerous pretexts and could then claim a right of interference to safeguard their interest. We are not dried up of our creative and innovative capabilities and thus the first opportunity should be provided to Sri Lankan entrepreneurs.
Damaging political utterances are made on both sides of the divide, yet India has a Prime Minister and Sri Lanka has a President who think of the country’s needs more than political gains.

Amor Patriae


Animal slaughter

Animals are creatures that are supposed to have been in existence from the time humans have appeared (or created by God as explained in some religions) into this world. They are our dumb friends. They cannot express their feelings as humans, the Homo Sapiens. The difference between human beings and animals is that the humans can come out with their feelings and thoughts whereas the animals cannot express their feelings through word of mouth or by any other means.
When skin and blood are components required for the existence of both categories, how unfair and unjustifiable for one species to kill the other category for their consumption. One species, i.e., the humans make the animal to bleed with a sharp knife or dagger to fulfill the religious requirement. The terrorists too, I understand, adopt a similar modus operandi to captured wounded soldiers to die by making them to bleed.

The Buddha has categorically emphasised on loving kindness in Karaneeya Metta Sutta where He preached that, “Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her own life, may all cultivate boundless love for every being.” The discourse further goes on to explain that we should extend our love to “all beings - tall, short, thin, stout or medium, born, yet to be born, seen, unseen, living far or near. May all beings without exception be loved and may they be well and happy.” This discourse is recited in almost in all the electronic media in every morning in Pali. No person of any other religion can understand the value of this as this is being recited only in Pali language.

To practise this loving kindness, a person should not only be a Buddhist. Any form of killing by making the animals to suffer pain with a sharpened knife or by any other means is inhuman and is a sin and that would make a person to suffer in this birth or in the next birth as explained by the Buddha. Some kill animals for their consumption or as a means of living.
The purpose behind this is for supplying relish to the appetite of human beings. The suffering faced by humans in the entire world, I presume, is comparatively much less than the suffering caused by human beings towards the animals in the entire world.

Tikiri Bandara Ekanayke






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