The Sunday TimesFront Page

19th May 1996




Riviresa III map, JPEG, 88KB

Riviresa I,II,II Advancement of Government forces

AG's advice sought on NE interim body

By Shelani de Silva

Proposals for the setting up of an Interim Council in the North and East have been sent to the Attorney General for advice, but Tamil parties are complaining that they had not been consulted on the matter.

Attorney General Sarath Silva told The Sunday Times the proposals were being studied. "We are studying whether it should be an interim body or otherwise and who should be in it," he said.

Meanwhile Tamil political party leaders said the government should have consulted them and taken their suggestions into consideration.

Suresh Premachandra leader of the EPRLF said officially their party had not been informed and did not know what was happening. EPRLF and other leaders said MPs should be on the Council.

An EROS spokesman also said they knew little about what was happening regarding the Council.

Meanwhile the five Tamil parties have written to President Chandrika Kumaratunga requesting her to allow them to visit liberated areas in the North.

S. Sivarajah of TELO told The Sunday Times they were awaiting a response but our Political Correspondent has learnt that the President may not allow it.

"We asked the President to give permission for us to visit Jaffna for about three days. Since so many others were able to visit the liberated areas, I don't see why we should not," the TELO official said.

Meanwhile, the five parties who have also asked for an appointment with Tamil Nadu's new Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and hope to meet him next month, an official said.

"Since the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has made a statement that he is concerned about the innocent Tamil people suffering and also that he firmly believes in a political solution for Sri Lanka, we felt that as Tamil political parties we have every right to express our views on this matter," he said

He said this meeting would be a part of their effort to get third party mediation to solve the ethnic conflict.

Darkness at noon over Lanka

Monsoon delayed; longer power cuts loom

The present six-hour power-cut could be further increased as Met Department warned yesterday that there would not be rains for the next two weeks in catchment areas.

As the water-level in all reservoirs is fast dwindling, one CEB official said the CEB would not be able to generate enough power even to impose power cuts.

Deputy Director of the Met Department, G.H.P. Dharmaratna told The Sunday Times rain was not expected in the catchment areas until the first week of June when the South West monsoon would begin.

CEB Engineers Union President M.S. Jayalath said the water levels at reservoirs had dropped drastically and the current six-hour power cut would have to be further increased. "We would be constantly reviewing the situation to decide whether the power cuts should be further increased," he said.

According to the CEB Union President, the water level had dropped to 15 per cent in storage.

At the moment there is nothing the government could to avoid the situation.

CEB official said the situation worsened after power cuts were stopped for one week during the Vesak festival.

"If power cuts had been lifted for two days it would not have been that bad, but since it was for more than a week, the situation got out of hand. The authorities took it for granted when there was some rain thinking that things would get back to normal, but the rains were inadequate," he said.

Meanwhile the Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Power and Energy R.W.H.M. Ranavirajah said the government was looking at acquiring more power generation capacity in view of a delayed monsoon. He said the Minister had instructed the CEB to avoid lengthening the power cut hours but instead advised to provide for additional generation capacity by way of speedy installation of power plants.

Mr. Ranavirajah said even if the monsoon rains were delayed there would not be a total black out since the thermal power plants would be functional. He said private sector would be encouraged to feed the grid and sell power to the CEB as an alternative.

The CEB had followed the recommendations of the committee that sat on the power crisis just weeks before the power cuts began in March. Mr. Ranavirajah said the government had got down a 20 MW container mounted power plant to supplement the grid. The plant imported from Aggrekko of the Netherlands for short term rental is currently selling power to the CEB at Rs. 6.18 a unit.

Mr. Ranavirajah said repairs were carried out at Kelanitissa and Sapugaskanda stations, as was recommended, but the results were not that impressive.

Generators with smaller capacity were imported by the CEB and installed at vital state institutions.

GMOA to agitate against Minister

The GMOA is to carry out a protest campaign against Health Minister A.H.M. Fowzie, because of what it sees as his irresponsible behaviour during the recent medical crisis, an official said.

The campaign would begin an May 26, the day on which Mr. Fowzie is scheduled to return to Sri Lanka.

The agitation would include lunch hour picketing, but the GMOA would ensure that no inconvenience is caused to patients, he said.

Karunanidhi: friend or foe?

By Roshan Peiris

Muthuvel Karunanidhi's election as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the fulsome praise of him by Tamil Political Parties here has brought a mixed reaction from the Sinhala leadership.

Mr. Karunanidhi has in the past been associated closely with the LTTE. But now, he seems to have adopted a no-go stand with the LTTE, while pleading for what he calls the sad plight of the Tamil people of the North.

Dr. Stanley Kalpage former Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to India and now a member of the Working Committee of the U.N.P. said, I have met Mr. Karunanidhi several times. He is an astute man and not the run of the mill politician. He will be deliberate and calculating in what he does. He won't take policy decisions lightly. When I met him in 1990 he argued with me on behalf of the LTTE and was unhappy that the then Government had a dialogue with the EPRLF.

"Astute as he is, he has changed since the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, allegedly by an LTTE suicide bomber. He has openly stated that he does not support the LTTE any longer. But much will depend on the Central Government and Premier Bajpayee, who in my opinion is a moderate man."

CWC leader S. Thondaman said in a message to Mr. Karunanidhi, "your victory at the elections is not only for the people of Tamil Nadu but also a sign of hope for Tamils all over the world who will look on to you to provide dynamic and meaningful leadership in promoting and safeguarding interests of the Tamil people".

Commenting on this, Dr. Kalpage said Mr. Thondaman will say anything to steal the headlines. After all he wanted the governemnt of the North and East handed over to the LTTE when his own President called them the worst terrorists in the world who were a palpable threat to her life. Mr. Thondaman said one thing during the UNP and now says one thing."

S.L. Gunasekera, Joint Secretary of the Sinhala Ekeeya Sanvidanaya expressed what he called his own views. "The Tamil people seem delighted at the election of Mr. Karunanidhi and say they are all going to visit him. Mr Thondaman calls him the leader of all Tamil peoples and not only those of Tamil Nadu.

I pose this question, "where do the loyalities of the Tamil political parties lie? Is it to Sri Lanka or elsewhere? The Tamil Parties and Mr. Thondaman have shown ultra racism which seems to come before their loyalty to the country. This attitude, I consider as the attitude of the traitors to this country. They look upon with confidence and affection not to any leaders over here be they Sinhala or Tamil, but to one who is outside this country."

The Venerable Dr. Walpola Sri Rahula Thera, Chancellor of the Kelaniya University and Director of Buddhist Studies and Research Institute, Kotte said "I say, we need not worry ourselves about Mr. Karunanidhi's election as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. I think that he will now never be sympathetic towards the Tamil terrorists, the LTTE, because he knows only too well that they were instrumental in killing Rajiv Gandhi. So we need not worry, though he earlier sympathised with them.

We must wait patiently and watch events."

Dinesh Gunewardena Leader of the M.E.P. said "the election of Mr. Karunanidhi is an internal matter of Tamil Nadu. But in the context of his earlier support of the LTTE, we must remain alert to new situations and act with diplomacy and tact in dealing with the Central Government. We must not overact with regard to Mr. Karunanidhi's election. As for Mr Thondaman he makes different statements at different times while being within the Cabinet of Ministers. I don't think we should react or bother about his statements."

Gamini Atukorale Secretary of the UNP said "the people of Tamil Nadu have voted the DMK in. As for us, we are friendly with all the political parties of India".

CWC sets deadline for demands

The CWC has set a three-week time limit for the government to give a response to its demands, a party official said.

A.M.D. Rajan, National List MP of the CWC said it was upon this condition that the CWC decided not to proceed with the no-confidence motion against Plantations Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake.

Mr. Rajan said the CWC's demands 300 days work a year and a wage increase of Rs. 8 a day increase - were fully justified in view of the non-payment of cost of living allowance to estate workers.

Meanwhile, the three-member committee appointed by the government to study the CWC's demands held its first meeting on Thursday. The committee comprises the former Labour Commissioner Gamini Weerakoon (Chairman), former Tea Board Chief T. Sambasivam and Industrial Court member, N.A. Abeysekere.

Mr. Weerakoon told The Sunday Times, the committee had called for written submission from all parties concerned.

The CWC has informed President Kumaratunga of the appointment of its General Secretary, Harry Sandrasekera to represent the party at the committee's sittings. Mr. Sandrasekera who flew to Delhi recently is due back today.

Terrorists in Army uniform kill three

Terrorists dressed in Army uniforms stabbed three civilians to death the defence ministry said yesterday.

The terrorists had asked for the identity cards from the civilians and the civilians suspecting they were not army personnel refused to show them the cards.

The LTTE members then stabbed some of the civilians in anger and three of them succumbed to their injuries in hospital, the ministry said.

" The motive of this inhuman act is to bring the disrepute to the security forces by putting the blame on them. The security forces have made arrangements to assist the families of the victims by making the funeral arrangements in their villages,

Meanwhile an air force Sia Marchetti air craft returing after an operational mission carried at a precautionary landing at a location close to Kahatagasdigiliya, Anuradhapura yesterday morning. No injury to the pilot or to the air craft was reported the defence Ministry said.

Rehab census in Jaffna tomorrow

By Arshad M. Hadjirin

A house-by-house survey will be conducted in the Jaffna peninsula from tomorrow by Colombo-based Ministry officials to assess the position of some 500,000 civilians there, an official said.

Somapala Gunadheera, Chairman of the Northern Province Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority (NPRRA) told 'The Sunday Times' that officials would go from Colombo today with printed forms to be distributed among civilians in Jaffna. The civilians would be asked to give details of material damages they have suffered and also spell out their needs.

Mr. Gunadheera also said the full rehabilitation plan for Jaffna was now ready and would be presented to the President soon. He indicated the amount needed to implement this plan would exceed Rs. 13.5 billion. Foreign aid is expected for this purpose.

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