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|Power and Energy Ministry in safe hands!
As one who had worked in the Ministry for Power and Energy for
nearly two decades, interested in this sector and also as a
consumer, I am indeed happy that Patali Champika Ranawaka has been
entrusted and assigned the portfolio of Power and Energy. He, being
a qualified Electrical Engineer, could understand the language of
the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) engineers and also technical,
engineering aspects to avoid conflicts which the CEB faced. As
readers will remember, there had been several instances where the
Minister had forced and interfered with the CEB’s planning. There
had been the controversy where the CEB had refused to pay Rs. 850
million to the management of West Coast Power, owners of
Kerawalapitiya Combine Cycle Plant for idle hours; proposal to
include plants much against the wishes of the CEB and also
pressurising the CEB to fianalise agreements with technically
unqualified companies to produce wind power.
Readers will remember, I had frequently written to the press
requesting President Mahinda Rajapaksa to intervene and settle these
conflicts as such conflicts affect the consumers by way of
introducing high cost generation plants to the system.
A recent news report says that the proposed Coal Power Plant at
Sampur will be further delayed due to the Indian company not
finalising certain issues. Here I would wish to state that if this
plant is delayed, we would face another power crisis as experienced
in 2002. It is suggested that the government negotiate with other
lending agencies to finance this project. It should be recalled that
the Japanese government was prepared to finance the Norochcholai
Coal Power Project but due to unreasonable objections from the then
Bishop of Chilaw, they withdrew because they could not hold back the
assigned funds any longer. It is therefore possible for the new
minister to approach the Japanese government once again to fund the
Sampur Coal Power Project or approach the Chinese government who are
presently constructing the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant as they are
already established here they may come forward to fund.
Knowing the excellent and dedicated work done as Minister for
Environment and Natural Resources, we the consumers could place full
confidence in Ranawaka to work amicably with the CEB and produce
results as no outside influence could be brought on him.
It is hoped that the CEB will give him all support to steer this
sick institute, which is vital for economic and social development
of our dear country.
Our best wishes to Minister for Power and Energy Patali Champaka
G. A. D. Sirimal
Former Assistant Secretary SLAS, Ministry for Power and Energy
|Omission of Vaas from World Cup Twenty/20
All cricket lovers in this country, particularly
those who watched the live action in the recently concluded Indian
Premier League would not have the slightest hesitation in agreeing
totally as to why our premier left arm swing bowler Chaminda Vaas’
omission from the Sri Lanka’s Twenty/20 World Cup squad is
considered as totally unjustifiable.
His past track record is more than a proven fact that he had been
a true servant of our National team in the longer and the shorter
versions of the game for nearly two decades having been a regular
member, as an opening left arm medium pace swing bowler as well as a
genuine all-rounder. He had been chiefly instrumental in many famous
victories we had gained over more fancied Test playing nations and
in tri-nation tournaments. He holds several world records and is
ranked high in the ratings of all-rounders among all time greats.
Vaas holds the record for taking four wickets in four balls in a
World Cup encounter against Zimbabwe, that too in the first four
balls of an ODI which is a world record that cannot be easily
beaten. It is a well known fact that he is one exceptional bowler
who has consistently captured a wicket in the very first over of
many ODIs. If the writer is correct, in addition to many records
this legendary cricketer holds, is the record of the best bowling
analysis of 8/19 in all One Day internationals since its inception
in the year 1975.
I firmly believe it is the fault of our selection committee for
overlooking him. What our former skipper Marvan Atapattu said
publicly is definitely true, ‘a set of Muppets’ headed by a chief
selector - a ‘joker’ is what are selection committee consists of
There is little doubt if the selectors had watched the recently
concluded IPL matches to gauge his fitness, recognition, the manner
he excelled with several marvelous performances.
He was playing for Deccan Chargers skippered by Adam Gilchrist who
has had a lot of confidence in him by giving the last over for Vaas
to bowl when the opposition Delhi Dare Devils needed just 14 runs to
score to enter the semi-finals of this big league. At that moment
England skipper Paul Collingwood was unbeaten on 50 odd. But our
Vaas with his enormous experience bowled a few yorkers aimed on the
leg stump which prevented any possibility for the batsmen at the
wickets to score boundaries. His last over which was so crucial was
hailed and applauded by the commentators as it was restricted only
to a few singles.
There is much more to be said about this great immortal bowler
and all-rounder. It is very unfortunate about his omission from the
squad especially as he was in very good nick and trim as the IPL was
concluded only a few days ago.
I am quite sure that knowledgeable skipper Kumar Sangakkara and
experienced Mahela Jayawardene both would really repent for his
exclusion. Followers of this great game will ponder whether politics
has had the final say. It is a pity that he was not in the good
books of our politicians.
|Tuk tuk overloaded with school kids
On my way to drop my son, Tameem to Zahira College one morning, I
saw a trishaw plying on Maradana Road, not overtly the jam-packed as
such, nevertheless,it had too many school children. Do you know how
this particular trishaw was able to accommodate relatively more kids
than the others? In this three-wheeler, I noticed that modifications
have been carried out with regard to the seats – an extra seat has
been fixed behind the back of the driver, so that the children were
seated face to face and some kids were even on the laps of others. I
wonder whether this sort of makeshift extra seats could be put up in
addition to the existing one – Is it allowed as per rules and
regulations of the Department of Motor Traffic?
A more important issue, which should be of concern to all of us, in
the event of say, an accident, I dread to think, is there cover for
compensation for all the passengers/kids – be it the conventional
Insurance or the Islamic Insurance, Takaful?
|Changing US foreign policy on the Middle-East
The firm decision of the US administration to condemn the building
of more settlements in East Jerusalem by the Israelis has been
welcomed by the whole world. The US is aware that there will be no
headway to the US initiated peace process unless Israel halts the
building of new settlements. The hawkish Israel Prime Minister,
Benjamin Netanyahu, piqued by the US decision is expressing all
sorts of empty objections to this landmark decision of Barack
Why the arrogant US officials chose this time to object to the
Israel policy of building new settlements is on account of the dire
straits that the US has precipitated itself. History is both a
teacher and a mirror. It teaches those prepared to learn lessons and
exposes those that harbour illusions of grandeur. Who would have
imagined barely 10 years ago that a self-proclaimed super-power and
pretender to global leadership would be in such dire straits on the
economic, political and military fronts?
The two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with a third just beginning
in Pakistan with involvement in Somalia and Yemen - all Muslim
countries have bankrupted the US. The total cost will exceed $3
trillion, according to Harvard Economist, Joseph Stiglitz. US
external debt stands at $38 trillion. The bursting of various
bubbles - dotcom, housing and derivatives, Ponzi schemes - was so
frequent that they have come to symbolise the US economy more than
manufacturing. In fact, there is little manufacturing left in the
US, decimated by outsourcing tsunami in the relentless drive to
maximise corporate and shareholder profit.
There is now the grim reality of people losing jobs, business
shut-downs and losing homes because of their inability to make
mortgage payments. For the first time in US history, millions of
people are forced to live in tents, under bridges; an estimated 45
million people do not have medical insurance and 40 million children
live in poverty. It appears that the uni-polar world is dying. US
bluster, braggadocio and bravura is disappearing.
It is because of this depressing scenario that US policy will be
compelled to change. It is a matter of time that an exit strategy
will have to be worked out in Afghanistan, Iraq and even in
Pakistan. The US also is aware that no peace in Palestine means no
peace in the world. The US will also have to rescind its demand for
crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran. Anyway at
present sanctions are not effective at all and Iran knows how to
make sanctions ineffective.
If the US does not face the new realities wisely, it will be on
the path to self-destruction. After all, the Soviet Union was also a
super-power armed with nuclear weapons and had the largest air-force
in the world when it invaded Afghanistan on December 27, 1979.
Today, there is no Soviet Union on the world map. This fate may well
happen to the US itself and even to Israel.
|That ordeal haunts me night and day
I wouldn’t want to go through such an experience again. Neither
would I want any other helpless lady in my neighbourhood, to suffer
this same fate, therefore, warning to all.
Returning home from my workplace, I was at my gate, unlocking and
unlatching it, when I felt something scratching and scraping at my
neck, pulling me back and almost throttling me. At first, I thought
it was a monkey or squirrel from the cadju tree that had jumped on
me. By the time I realised it was a snatch-thief grabbing at my gold
chain, it was too late. The two culprits had got away with what they
wanted and I only saw their backs disappearing on their motorbike.
I was too stunned even to call out for help - I simply stood
there, my mouth agape and too shocked even to move. I did shout
then, but by that time they would have been a mile or so away.
It was not so much the loss of my chain, but the trauma and shock
which still haunts me night and day. I had been warned several times
not to wear valuables, especially at the hour I usually return home
- around 3 p.m. or so - when our road, Dharmaratne Avenue, with its
many turns and twists is so lonely and deserted and the ideal
hunting-ground for this kind of thief. But, not being young enough
to wear all the fancy jewellery that young misses adorn themselves
with these days, I was in the habit of wearing this chain.
So, ladies, please be warned. Don’t wear expensive jewellery. See
that your purses and handbags are held securely. The next thing
you’ll hear of could be ear-lobes cut off for ear-studs or fingers
chopped off for wedding rings. I still suffer from nightmares when I
recall the incident. Walking along the road now I even dread the
sound of a footfall behind me or motorbikes coming towards me.
I sincerely hope none of you will ever go through this sort of
|Admission of under-age children to Sasanaya
I came across a photograph published on the front page of a national
daily wherein two children aged 3 and 4 years, who had been ordained
as Samaneras were seen playing with two toy cars at the New Year
The Buddha suggested that no child be ordained as Samanera without
the consent of the child’s parents, after the issue arose as a
result of King Suddodhana’s protest over Prince Rahula being
admitted to the Sasanaya.
In the case of the two children in the photograph, their father
had handed them over to be ordained as Samaneras as the mother had
gone to the Middle East seeking employment. The mother apparently
sought employment abroad to bring up the children and have them
educated. Hence, whether the mother’s approval had been obtained to
enter the two children to the Sasanaya is doubtful. The father will
now be free to go his own way even using the remittances from the
Then again children under 10 years cannot make decisions on their
own as they have no ability to properly understand issues. It is,
therefore, not proper to admit such under-age children to
Bhikkhuhood. The fact that the two Samaneras were seen playing with
toy cars prove the point that they are still not fit to be
Samaneras. Even in other religions such under-age children are not
forced into priesthood.
In the past, there was a process of admitting a boy of 10 to 15
years to a Buddhist Temple as an “Abiththaya”, a trainee for
Bhikkhuhood, to learn the basics for entering the Sasanaya and after
a few years ordain the “Abiththaya” as a Samanera if he agrees to be
in robes. The continuation of such procedure seems salutary.
On the other hand, whether there is no illegality in the
ordination of the two under-age children needs examination. The
Sanaga Nayakes, Buddhist organisations and child protection
societies should step in to sort out the issue.
Upali S. Jayasekera
|Senior citizens in for a bit of luck
The Government of Sri Lanka has decided to pay a bonus of 20% on
interest received on savings and fixed deposits pertaining to rupees
deposits of senior citizens with licensed banks with effect from
January 1, 2010.
The much aged senior citizens who are sexagenarians,
septuagenarians, octogenarians and some centenarian require extra
nourishment, unlike others to revive their weary bodies after having
toiled for the country in their long career, some having worked even
for over 40 years. Forty years in the life expectancy of an
individual is a considerable length of time. After retirement some
are not fit to do any other job.
For their nourishment they have to purchase foods like butter, milk
foods, Marmite, Nestomalt, Horlicks, soups, plenty of fresh fruits
They always get about in three wheelers as they cannot walk long
distances and neither travel by bus, as they are so feeble and
require extra assistance for walking.
Their medical bills are considerable and consultation fees for
doctors cost them a tidy sum. I spend by way of consultation fees
Rs.1,200 per consultation. I am expected to see the doctor every
month. The medical bills to purchase prescribed medicine too are
considerable. I am prescribed Madoper. I require one tablet a day
which was earlier Rs.45.25 and now it is Rs.48.75. With other
medicines, costs are about Rs.7,000 for medicine and doctors fees
The pittance of a pension the senior citizens get is not enough for
their other bills, water, electricity etc. This extra payment by the
governments is most welcome. Hope it will not be an election gimmick
and continue even after elections.
V. K. B. Ramanayake
|JICA assists reconstruction of Northern
Three new projects to contribute to effective
and sustainable reconstruction of the Northern Province have
recently commenced through grant assistance from the Japan
International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The total grant amount is
approximately 1,619 million Japanese Yen (approx. 2 billion rupees).
JICA in a news release said that the project for digital topographic
mapping of the Northern Province will assist the Survey Department
to update and prepare topographic maps with GIS up to the national
standards, using aerial photography. The available maps for the
Northern Province are decades old, and could not be updated due to
security conditions during the conflict.
Aerial photography will facilitate the maps to be prepared to the
highest quality and with all key details including topographical
features, land use and altitude contours. These detailed maps will
enable governmental organisations and other development partners to
efficiently plan and design the reconstruction and development
activities in the province.
The project for development planning for the rapid promotion of
reconstruction and development in Jaffna District and the project
for development planning for the urgent rehabilitation of the
resettlement community in Mannar District will be implemented in
close collaboration with the Jaffna and Mannar District Secretariats
respectively. The Ministry of Economic Development, which takes over
the functions of the Ministry of Nation Building and Estate
Infrastructure Development, is the lead counterpart for the
The projects aim to map out effective and sustainable development
plans for Jaffna and Mannar Districts with focus on strengthening
community-based organisations and engaging local communities in
rehabilitation and maintenance of rural infrastructure. Community
Action Planning (CAP) methodology will be used to ensure engagement
of the stakeholders from the initial stages. Several pilot projects
will be carried out to rehabilitate rural infrastructure for revival
of livelihoods and socio-economic activities of the resettled people
of the two districts. These pilot projects will cover various key
livelihood generation sectors, and will take into account
demographic composition and socio-economic characteristics typical
to the region. The good practices and lessons learnt from these
pilot projects will be incorporated into the development plans.
While providing essential rural infrastructure in the interim, the
development plans produced as the end output will facilitate JICA as
well as other development partners to select candidate projects for
A goodbye of a different kind
As I stood over her lifeless body, a thousand other thoughts
clouded my mind; I felt so many feelings altogether. I had no
inkling as to what I should have done as I continued to stay
grounded in place. I wondered what I would do when one of my parents
would pass away, and how it would make me feel; I couldn’t imagine
what I would be going through at a time like that, but I could see
myself being completely hopeless and helpless, unknowing what to do,
what to say and how to be.
It’s strange how and why I began thinking of things like that at
my own aunt’s funeral, but I simply got carried away, and could not
come back down to earth from those thoughts. I was tormenting
myself, in fact, freaking myself out with these predictions and my
vivid imagination, but I felt like I should know how it would be
like, in order to be prepared for something as sudden and inevitable
I couldn’t quite grasp the fact that I would someday have to
stand at the lifeless body of my parents; I couldn’t quite
understand how I would be able to face such a situation. As I stood
over the body that belonged to my aunt, I watched carefully to see
if there was the slightest hint of breath, and I became nauseous as
I realised she wasn’t going to take another breath at all. It scared
to me to think that the body in front of me was simply just a body
and had no life or soul inside any longer. It depressed to me to
think that that is how we all would someday end up being; we would
depart from our human form and leave behind only the trail of a body
and all the memories shared, nothing more.
Strange, all these thoughts took hold of me that day. It was just
an ordinary day, and I was as always minding my own business. It was
to be a good day. But then fate, destiny, karma took over.
I had never been to a family funeral before, and I had no idea how I
was supposed to react or behave or do anything in the least. I
didn’t know what to wear, so I garbed myself in a pale coloured
shalwar and went over to the funeral house.
I had never seen my mother look that way before. The way she
stared at the lifeless body that lay in front of her was scary and
painful to see. She was like in a trance, and I stood by the doorway
for a minute or two, watching my sisters try to soothe and calm her
down. She was crying non-stop. There was a look of disbelief in her
eyes, like as if she couldn’t believe her own sister had passed
away; she couldn’t believe that she was seated here at her own
sister’s funeral. I couldn’t quite believe it myself.
I know how people say it’s better for the dead this way; there is no
more suffering, no more pain and hurt and no more worries. But it is
only the beginning of all that for the family that has lost this
person – for them, death brings suffering, pain, hurt and worries.
It is ironical in that manner how we tend grieve for those we
have lost to death, how painful it seems to live our lives, but yet,
live it nevertheless. We think we won’t be able to survive another
day without them, but we do. Every little thing we do, say and see
reminds us of the ones we have lost and yet, we continue to live. We
continue to breathe and we continue to carry on. Sometimes, we grow
stronger as the days and months and years go by, and sometimes, it
just wears us out and makes us hope for a similar simple ending. At
least that’s what I hoped for.
My aunt passed away with very much of a warning; she was
hospitalised a few weeks before her death, due to a blood clot in
her brain that initially caused her to lose consciousness. I
remember walking into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and seeing her
covered in tubes. But underneath it all, she was the same. She was
my aunt, my mother’s sister and my cousin’s mother. That hadn’t
changed, it still hasn’t.
I wanted to hold her hand as I prayed silently by her side, but I
was afraid to. I had never seen anyone in her state before, and
neither had I been to visit a sick person before. She was sick –
well, unwell would be the right word. Her body wasn’t functioning
without the machines in the ICU. She showed movement in her hand one
day, and my whole family was hopeful, but unfortunately, that was
the last movement she ever made.
It’s been nine years since she passed away and I still remember the
way she would dress – with the sari end draped across her head – and
her bubbly laugh. She had light eyes and a cheerful smile. She was
like a breath of freshness whenever she walked into a room. She had
a very feminine touch to her movements; she never walked fast or was
in a hurry. She would glide across any room that she lit up with her
chirpiness and wide grin. Like me, she would, although, scream the
house down whenever she saw an insect or bug, but was always tender
and loving to anyone close to her.
So I stood over her body, I don’t know for how long exactly, on
the day of her death, not knowing what to do. We were allowed to
walk around the body one last time, before the men would come and
take the body to be buried. Looking at her body for the last time
was one of the most painful things I’ve had to do, and I can imagine
that pain must have been 10 times over for my cousins, her husband
and my mother.
I touched her hand for a moment this time as I bid her goodbye. I
prayed silently for a good life in the Hereafter, and the tears
began to fall. Nine years down the line, I’m wiping tears once
She will never be forgotten. She will always remain a very important
part of our lives.
Inna lillahi Wa inna ilaihi Rajioon