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18th February 2001

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Justice Hector S. Yapa was appointed as a
Supreme Court Judge last week by
President Chandrika Kumaratunga
Justice Yapa is seen receiving his letter
of appointment from President Kumaratunga.
Presidential Secretary Kusumsiri
Balapatabendi is also in the picture.
Pic. Courtesy Department
of Information

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Rs.millions await first prize winners

The National Lotteries Board - found by the Supreme Court to have defrauded a first prize winner through its arbitrary action - is likely to see several past prize winners at their doorstep, claiming millions of rupees for them.

This follows a landmark judgment delivered this week by the Supreme Court where the Lotteries Board was ordered to pay the 1st prize winner of the 635th draw of the Mahajana Sampatha lottery the correct sum according to the valid regulations promulgated for the conduct of the lottery.

The counsel for the petitioner claimed that a sum of Rs. 44 million shold be paid in addition to the Rs. 41 million already paid to him- a total of Rs. 85 million.

The prize winner G.R Jayatilleke, a jail guard contended that the first prize was last won at the 560th draw held on July 31, 1994 and if the first prize had not been won, the prize money was added to the first prize of the next draw.

But from the 595th draw, the National Lotteries Board had arbitrarily decided that only 10 per cent of the unwon first prize was to be added.

The National Lotteries Board in its affidavits to Court argued that it was not permitted to carry this money forward under the Finance Act a contention the Supreme Court rejected saying that the National Lotteries Board's pleadings were not bona-fide.

Mr. Jayatilleke also said the winning ticket itself had printed thereon that the entirety of the unwon first prize monies was to be carried forward until it was won.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Mark Fernando, R N M Deeraratne and D P S Gunasekera directed the National Lotteries Board to pay Mr. Jayatilleke the correct amount due to him and Rs. 30,000 as costs.

President's Counsel Tilak Marapana with Jayantha Fernando instructed by Tudor Ranasinghe appeared for Mr. Jayatilleke.

Officials of the National Lotteries Board were tight lipped this week when asked how many other winners have been denied their full amount because of its arbitrary action. 


Resolution to amend BASL Constitution defeated

By Laila Nasry

A resolution to amend the constitution of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) to enable the Bar Council to call for fresh nominations for the post of President was defeated yesterday.

The resolution was moved in order to accommodate fresh nominations for the post of President following the death last week of Chula de Silva, PC, who was a candidate for the post.

As a result the only other candidate, Ajantha Athukorale, is to be elected uncontested as the President of the country's largest association of lawyers.

At yesterday's meeting which was presided by the President of the BASL, Upali Gooneratne, and attended by about 70 members, Ajantha Cooray moved an amendment calling for fresh nominations and rescheduling of the election.

The amendment proposed that the Returning Officer in consultation with the Advisory Board and the Executive Committee call for further nominations by way of a notice published in at least three daily newspapers. The proposed amendment was seconded by Kandiah Neelakandan.

When many members made vociferous submissions the proposed amendment was withdrawn.

Desmond Fernando, PC, pointed out two shortcomings in the proposed amendment. Firstly the period to call for further nominations, which is ten days from the occurrence of death, is not sufficient as the stipulated period would lapse in the event of a postponement of the election. Secondly, the sub-paragraph indicates that the provisions of the amendment are effective for the year 2001/2002, which would limit it to this term only.

Mr. Cooray accordingly proposed an amendment to the period from 10 to 14 days to take effect from 2001/2002. The proposed amendment was seconded by Ananda Goonatileke. However, 43 voted against the amendment while 20 voted for it. Six members abstained from voting, Mr. Gooneratne said.

The proposal for the amendment came after ballot papers for the elections had been despatched. The election is scheduled for Feb. 20, Mr. Gooneratne said.


Ire and fire over Kimbissa airstrip

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti

The expansion of the Kimbissa Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) airstrip in close proximity to the fabled Sigiriya rock has drawn fire from conservators and archaeological experts.

They have urged the government to prevent further harm to King Kashyapa's rock fortress which was declared a world heritage site two years ago by the UNESCO.

A senior archaeologist based in the North Western Province said the expansion of the airstrip close to Sigiriya was high handed. He said the UNESCO had recognised King Kashyapa's unique dwelling as part of the world heritage and listed it among the wonders of the world. Therefore it should be treated with the respect it deserves as forming part of the country's unique heritage.

"Other countries take pride in their heritage. It was primarily wrong for the camp to be set up within this area. Its expansion within the Sigiriya site is unthinkable. The vibrations caused by the flights would have a massive negative impact on the boulders," he said.

Meanwhile, conservators have suggested Hingura-kgoda as an alternative airstrip. The Environmental Foundation Limited (EFL) which is vehemently opposing the unauthorised construction of a commercial airstrip by the SLAF has claimed that it fell within 2 kms from the rock and is within the Sigiriya Wildlife Sanctuary. The EFL also claims that rock blasting and quarrying operations would cause severe vibrations and tremendous air pollution in the area.

A project of this magnitude should not have been undertaken without a prior Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and an Archaeological Impact Assessment (AIA), a statement issued by the EFL said. 

The EFL would pray for writs of mandamus urging the CEA, archaeology director and Wildlife Conservation director for the performance of their public duties and a writ of prohibition against the Commander of the SLAF restraining him from continuing the present action.


Demolitions demolish their lives

By Nilika de Silva 

The demolition of "unauthorised" structures continued during the week, threatening the livelihood of thousands.

imageIn Hyde Park Corner and Union Place the owners of shops, which are considered unauthorized structures, have been informed by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) that their establishments would be demolished.

Even a Sub-Post Office is to be demolished.

At very short notice the owners of these premises on Hyde Park Corner and Union Place had been summoned to the UDA where they were informed of the decision.

They were given the option of accepting alternative shop space at People's Park or Rs.1,500 monthly as compensation for the next two years, M.A. Baba Nona of the area said.

The people have rejected these offers stating that they would not be able to sustain themselves with the compensation package.

As many as 35 persons are employed in a well-known garment shop which is due to be demolished tomorrow.

K.A. Meththananda, the owner of Family Unique Style situated at Union Place, said that he had been there for more than 50 years.

"We have been paying rates and taxes to the UDA and the Municipal Council for several years. How can they suddenly say I have no right to remain in these premises?" he queried.


Suicide bomber suspect kills herself inVavuniya

A suspected woman suicide bomber killed herself by swallowing a cyanide capsule after she was arrested in Vavuniya town last evening, Military officials said.

They said the woman, identified as Veerasingham Jayanthi, had arrived from Piramanalaukulam the gateway to the uncleared areas on Friday and was arrested around 3.30 p.m. last evening. She took cyanide and died an hour later. Following her arrest, a special team went to the Rasendrakulam area and recovered one suicide jacket, two grenades and two cyanide capsules.


High powered inter-religious group to meet LTTE

A high-powered inter-religious delegation is to visit the uncleared area over the weekend to hold a prayer service with the hope of meeting the LTTE.

The religious group comprising 35 Buddhist monks, two Catholic priests and a Catholic Bishop is to leave for Vavuniya on Sunday morning. 

The delegation will first visit the Madhu Church and hold an inter-religious prayer service and visit refugee camps in the vicinity.


A matter of speed: moot point for SriLankan Airlines engineers

By Tania Fernando

It took more than two hours for SriLankan Airlines engineers to detect a technical fault in a flight that had taken off with more than 300 passengers aboard, aviation sources said.

SriLankan Airlines A340 flight UL 505 departing to London last Sunday at 0230 hrs had to return to Colombo after 5 1/2 hours of being airborne, after the control tower informed them of a technical fault.

The Sunday Times learns that the crew on the flight had advised the captain that they had heard a sound on take-off and that they smelt something burning, to which he had said that the computers did not show any trouble.

It is further alleged that after the flight had departed there had been debris on the runway and this had been informed to the control tower by another airline which had taken off after this flight.

The engineers had collected the debris and it had taken them three hours to confirm that they were from the UL flight that had departed. By the time this was informed to the flight, they had been airborne for more than two hours. The flight time to London is 10 1/2 hours.

The flight returned to the BIA at 0810 hrs and passengers had allegedly insisted on being sent on a different airline. However, the new flight left BIA at 1110 hrs.

Meanwhile, media relations executive Manuela Motha said, "a runway inspection was carried out about 20-25 minutes after the aircraft departed. A decision to recall the A340 to Colombo took about 90 minutes after the flight had departed. On arrival the aircraft made three fly-bys with the undercarriage deployed to enable SriLankan Airline's ground engineers to ensure that there was no visual structural damage to the landing gear. The captain then proceeded to dump the excess fuel which took more than 1 1/2 hours. All passengers were reboarded on another SriLankan A340 flight within two hours."

However, aviation sources said it took a maximum of 30 minutes to dump the fuel. If the fault had been detected on take-off it was possible for the flight to have jettisoned the fuel and returned to the BIA within one hour.


Snippets

Straight from the horse's mouth

Whether Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremana-yake deserves bouquets or brickbats for telling senior government servants at the BMICH recently what election pledges of political parties really meant is left to be seen.cartoon

"Election manifestos are documents that endorse proposed policies of political parties. These are vote catching gimmicks. All political parties utter lies in their manifestos and the party which utter better and more effective lies is the side that wins."

"Political parties give various election pledges and that is how they win elections. If they do not utter lies, they simply lose. That is the reality, however unpalatable it is," he said.

The premier was addressing them on the theme, "The role of the public service and challenges of development in the 21st century."

She said it

"Over 40 per cent of the funds allocated for development are consumed in wastage, inefficiency and corruption in the state sector," said President Kumaratunga recently at the BMICH while addressing senior public servants.

The big denial

Despite the state media carrying President's speech, on Saturday came the denial from the Department of Information saying that the media were trying to distort the President's speech and trying to show that the state officials were corrupt.

Reward for heckling?

The Ruhunuputra who could not stand the Premadasa offspring and eventually pole-vaulted to his former blue camp has received yet another elevation. This time he has been appointed the SLFP chief organiser of the all-important Colombo Central.

With the elevation, the man who earned the ire from the House just a week ago for his disruptive antics may have to lock political horns with burly M. Maharoof.

It might be a reward for heckling the JVP group leader Wimal Weerawansa nonstop for 45 minutes, a political bigwig said. 

Austerity with fuel 

cartoonMinisters in the Colombo district will be allowed only Rs. 50,000 as fuel allowance per month and ministers in other districts will be allowed only Rs 75,000 in accordance with the austerity drive of the government.

With Rs. 50,000 one can buy 1,000 litres of petrol, says a fuel shed owner. He also says with 1,000 litres you may run a petrol shed in the outstations!


CWC to launch wage-hike protest

Ceylon Workers' Congress, a constituent party in the PA government, is to launch a Sathiyagraha tomorrow in Hatton, demanding higher wages for plantation workers, union officials said.

They said the CWC leadership was also scheduled to meet President Chandrika Kumaratunga tomorrow to discuss the issue of wage increase to the plantation workers.

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