The Nation Sunday Print Edition - page 3

Continued From Page 1
The Nation Sunday, November 23, 2014 Page 3
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Rukshana Rizwie
Moves are afoot by the Ministry of
Trader and Internal Affairs as well
as the Consumer Affairs Authority to
bring down a total of 50,000 metric tons
of rice from Bangladesh in the com-
ing days; however officials have openly
stated that they haven’t done any tests
to ascertain the traceability of arsenic
in any of the stocks.
Speaking to
The Nation
, Chairman,
CAA Rumy Marzook openly stated that
the authority and the ministry are yet to
look into reports that rice in Bangladesh
could potentially be contaminated with
arsenic. “We haven’t done any tests, but
will look into the matter,” he curtly said.
The Sri Lankan Government is tipped to
import 50,000 metric tons of rice from
Bangladesh in a bid to ensure food secu-
rity locally. The Cabinet recently glossed
over the danger and swiftly approved it.
It has been reported that the entire
deal would cost US$ 450 per ton, inclu-
sive of cost, freight and insurance. Ac-
cording to an article appeared in the
Dhaka Tribune, this will be the largest
quantity of rice to be exported from
Bangladesh to Sri Lanka to date. Based
on reports in the local press, the import
of rice is to be carried with immediate
effect and stocks would be distributed
island-wide through the Lanka Sathosa
supermarkets – the state-owned whole-
sale and retail supermarket chain.
It has been widely acknowledged that
Sri Lanka’s rice harvest has been hit
hardest after a spate of drought in the
Polonnaruwa, Hambantota, Monera-
gala, Ampara and Vavuniya Districts
during the 2014 Maha season. In order
to compensate for the scarcity, import
of rice has been sought as a remedial
action. However, Sri Lanka in the past
have only imported from China, Thai-
land, Vietnam and Pakistan since they
were more suitable for the Sri Lankan
palate.
In September, Assistant Director Ag-
riculture Ministry, Dr. DBT Wijeratne
went on record to state that rice would
not be imported from Bangladesh since
it contains high level of arsenic aver-
aging 340 mg per kg (compared to the
negligible levels found locally). He was
quoted in the weekend newspaper as
saying that government would not “gen-
erally import agricultural products
from Bangladesh since constant floods
and digging of wells release arsenic into
the soil”
He further added that since the minis-
try had been alerted of a possibility of
rice stocks that may contain high level
of arsenic, inspections would be carried
out in the warehouses and at customs
to prevent them from being sold to the
public should they contain any level of
arsenic. At the time, this edition of the
newspaper went to print. Dr Wijeratne,
who was due to arrive in the country,
was still abroad. An official at the Min-
istry of Agriculture stated that the min-
istry did not have the authority to con-
duct tests on imported rice, since most
of their tests and checks were confined
to rice that was locally harvested.
In September, the Consumer Affairs
Authority declared that the current
stocks of rice available in the market
were safe for consumption. A study by
the Food and Drug Administration not-
ed that more than 10 percent of rice from
China, Pakistan and Bangladesh was es-
timated to have arsenic concentrations
exceeding 200ppb (parts per billion).
Meanwhile, the Codex Alimentarius
Commission, the top global decision-
making body for food standards, issued
the decision at its annual meeting in
Geneva earlier this year. “Arsenic is an
environmental contaminant. It occurs
naturally and is taken up by plants from
the water and soil when they’re growing,
in particular rice,” saidWorld Health Or-
ganization food safety coordinator Ange-
lika Tritscher.
The commission set a maximum of 0.2
milligram of arsenic per kilo of polished
rice -- the product that is traded and con-
sumed. Bangladesh was cited as a top
concern, with tens of millions of rural
dwellers exposed via wells drilled in the
1970s in ‘access-to-water’ programs.
Kurunegala district parliamentarian
and Petroleum Industries Minister An-
ura Priyadarshana Yapa was appointed
as the General Secretary of the Sri Lan-
ka Freedom Party (SLFP), the main con-
stituent party of the ruling United Peo-
ple’s FreedomAlliance (UPFA). Minister
Anura Yapa is replacing the vacated post
by formerMinisterMaithripala Sirisena
last Friday and he will be assuming du-
ties tomorrow (Nov 24).
SLFP Central Committee had met Fri-
day night just after few hours of the an-
nouncement of former Minister Sirise-
na to contest the Presidential election as
the common opposition candidate with
the assistance of the main opposition
party United National Party and former
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Ku-
marathunga. SLFP had decided to dis-
miss former Minister Sirisena from the
party and at the same time, he had also
been removed from his ministerial post.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister Siripala
Gamalath was appointed as the SLFP or-
ganizer for Polonnaruwa district as well
as the Polonnaruwa electorate.
The Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshap-
riya recently announced that the presidential elec-
tion will be held on January 8, 2015. Nominations will
be accepted on December 8, 2014 from 9am to 11am.
Objections for the nominations will be accepted on
the nominations day from 11am to 11.30am.
All candidates should make a deposit before the
nomination, amounting to Rs.50,000 for a candidate
from a recognized political party and Rs.75,000 from
an independent candidate. Deposits will be accepted
on working days from November 24 to December 7.
The 2014 electoral register will be used for the
election. The number of electors eligible to vote is
15,044,490.
Praba’s B’day
celebrations banned
Maneshka Borham
Any information regarding missing princi-
pal of the Rajagiriya Hewavitharana Maha
Vidyalaya, N.N Chithrapala has not been
received yet. “We still have not received any
information regarding my brother,” said P.
Nagasinghe, the brother
of the missing principal.
Chithrapala has been
missing since the morn-
ing of November 19.
According to Nagas-
inghe, family members
along with the police
have been conducting an
extensive search to lo-
cate his brother. “We even searched for him
in our home town of Beliatta but to no avail,”
Nagasinghe said. “The Police are constantly
in touch with us but we have not received
any new information,” he said speaking to
The Nation. He claimed that the family does
not know the reason behind his brother’s
disappearance. “My brother had no psycho-
logical issues, nor did he have any financial
problems,” Nagasinghe said.
According to the Police Spokesperson
SSP Ajith Rohana, the three police units de-
ployed to investigate the incident are yet to
locate the whereabouts of the principal or
unravel the mystery behind his disappear-
ance. “The Police will continue to investi-
gate,” he said adding that while the Police
have received the missing person’s mobile
records, it does not indicate any suspicious
activity.
The special police units were deployed in
search of the missing principal following a
complaint by the missing person’s brother
to the Kottawa Police station.
Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
“We would like an explanation of the budget propos-
al from Dr. PB Jayasundara,” Federation of University
Teachers’ Association (FUTA) President Dr. Chandra-
guptha Thenuwara said, adding that, “a responsible
economist will have to explain the budget proposals,” to
Dr. Thenuwara as he is unable to understand it.
Once the budget proposals are explained to and un-
derstood by FUTA, they will hold a press conference
regarding the many issues they have, including FUTA’s
opinion of the allocations made for higher education in
the budget proposal made recently. FUTA President Dr.
Thenuwara also said FUTA plans on releasing a docu-
ment that would cover the various issues of the Associa-
tion. These steps are to be taken early December.
Speaking about the budget allocations made for high-
er education Dr. Thenuwara said, “there were no alloca-
tions, only firecrackers,” adding that he couldn’t see any
concrete measures and know details about how and at
which point these measures would be taken. Comparing
the budget to the last will of a person, Dr. Thenuwara
said the proposals were ‘promises for elections.’
However, The Nation contacted FUTA officials a few
days after the Budget was presented in Parliament and
said that they had not studied the proposals lengthily
and not in a position to comment on it. Later, they had
organized a press conference, but it was cancelled at
the last minute and journalists who went there had come
back with empty hands.
An official from the Treasury said that FUTA’s waiting
for ‘an explanation from Dr. Jayasundara over the Bud-
get proposals is a joke which never can be expected
from such an organization.
Rice coming from Bangladesh
Without prior arsenic testing
Presidential Election
on January 8
Minister Yapa new SLFP
General Secretary
The minister also warned foreign powers
not to meddle in the internal affairs of a sov-
ereign nation, claiming there were reports
that money was being pumped to finance
the setting up of a ‘puppet government’ that
would dance to the tune of these powers.
Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa,
who had been newly appointed as the
SLFP’s General Secretary after Sirisena
was sacked from his post on Friday night,
said he regretted the circumstances that
had led him (Yapa) to be chosen to his new
post.
He accused Sirisena of coming forward
simply to elect Ranil Wickremesinghe as
prime minister. He further said Sirisena and
his fellow dissidents had no moral right to
claim that they were taking their decisions on
behalf of the SLFP. It was the president who
made the SLFP the most powerful political
party in its history and Sirisena’s breakaway
group was only serving the interests of the
SLFP’s bitter rival, the UNP, Yapa stressed.
“We will do everything in our power to defeat
him at the election,” he added.
Minister and Leader of the House Nimal
Siripala De Silva insisted the defections
would have no bearing on the SLFP’s voter
base. “One or two people cannot shake the
foundations of the SLFP,” he claimed. He
said he did not believe reports that more
MPs were waiting to cross over in batches.
However, the government was prepared
to meet any challenges that may arise, he
claimed.
Even if senior party members had issues
with the party hierarchy, breaking away was
not the way to resolve issues, De Silva said.
“These issues must be solved internally. We
have to look after the party and party cadres
without leaving them in isolation,” he said.
Both Ministers De Silva and Seneviratne
were questioned by journalists regarding
rumors that they too were about to cross
over to support Sirisena, to which De Silva
replied, “Even if Mahinda Rajapaksa himself
leaves the SLFP, I won’t go.” Seneviratne
said his answer was the same.
Maithri playing lead...
“We have three main issues; abolish-
ment of the Executive Presidency, rein-
statement of the 17th amendment to the
Constitution and changing the electoral
system. We have no doubts this time. It will
definitely take place,” Ven Thera said.
However, Ven. Sobitha Thera said that
no MoU nor any agreement has been
signed between the parties. When ques-
tioned about the promises which never kept
by Presidents Chandrika Bandaranaike
Kumarathunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa,
the thera said that President Kumarat-
hunga hadn’t enough power in Parliament
to deliver them and President Rajapaksa
doesn’t need to do it.”
However, the Ven. Thera had no idea
about the election campaign of the com-
mon opposition candidate Maithripala
Sirisena.
UNP Colombo district MP Ravi Ka-
runanayake said that the Opposition
Leader’s office will be the main campaign
office and other campaign activities will be
decided “in due course.” Professor Ra-
jeewa Wijesinghe who participated in the
common candidate’s first press conference
also said that he knows nothing, and added
that “everything will be finalized within the
next two to three days.”
First stage of...
As a result, the top rung leadership of the
ruling party has now embarked on a mission to
collect information about its members who have
made commitments to join the common opposi-
tion, with and without cash prices.
Meanwhile, Leader of the House Minister Ni-
mal Siripala de Silva, addressing a press con-
ference in Colombo on Saturday, dubbed the
moves of the common opposition as a Diaspora
funded foreign conspiracy that is aimed at de-
stabilizing Sri Lanka.
Addressing the same press conference, Sri
Lanka Freedom Party Treasurer Dullas Alahap-
peruma said, “This is all a mega teledrama.”
While indicating that foreign funds are being
channeled into the political campaign of the op-
position, Alahapperuma said no foreign arm had
any right to pump money into election campaigns
in Sri Lanka. He also went on to dub President
Mahinda Rajapaksa as the only leader who did
not bow down to international pressure.
Up For...
No clue over
missing principal
BJP leader Subramanian
Swamy last Friday urged In-
dian Home Minister Rajnath
Singh to issue a directive to
the Tamil Nadu Government
to ban the move to celebrate
birth anniversary of slain
LTTE chief V Prabhakaran,
who was responsible for kill-
ing of former Prime Minister
Rajiv Gandhi.
“These celebrations are
being organised by MDMK
leader Vaiko. MDMK must
be ejected from the NDA and
Vaiko should be locked up
under the National Security
Act,” Swamy said in a press
release.
The BJP leader said that the directive should be is-
sued under Article 256, which mandated the state to en-
sure compliance with the laws made by Parliament and
any existing laws which apply in that State.
Swamy also wanted the Home Minister to order set-
ting up of a Special Investigation Team under the CBI to
prosecute the crime of murder of Sunanda Pushkar, wife
of former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor.
(PTI)
FUTA keeps mum on Budget
allocation for education
President Rajapaksa commissions Deduru Oya Project
The multi-purpose Deduru Oya Reservoir Project was commissioned yesterday by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The
government has invested around Rs 10 billion on the project which can cultivate around 33 thousand acres of paddy land
during both the Yala and Maha seasons. Deduru Oya which is the largest Reservoir in the North-Western Province holds a
capacity of 60,000 acre feet of water. Here, President Mahinda Rajapaksa is seen with other participants at the ceremony
Pic by Nishshanka de Silva
Subramanian Swamy
Swamy wants
According to Premachandran, several
senior members of the alliance including
Mavai Senathirajah and M.A. Sumanthiran
are overseas. “The party high rankers would
meet early this week and discuss the matter
in length following which a decision would
be taken,” he said.
The move of the TNA takes highly antici-
pated after the announcement of the com-
mon candidate since it had backed the can-
didature of former army commander Sarath
Fonseka at the previous presidential polls
held in 2010.
The move to back Fonseka triggered
questions as to why it had backed Fonseka
while calling for international probe on al-
leged human rights violations by the army
during the final phase of the war.
TNA’s stand...
JVP still...
Dissanayake refrained from directly
pledging JVP’s support for Sirisena.
However, he said the JVP would cre-
ate awareness among the public re-
garding the prevailing state of affairs
in the country. Dissanayake said it
would then be up to the voters to make
their own decisions regarding how they
vote.
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