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5th April 1998

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Gas cylinders elude consumers, dealers

Amidst a sharp rise in gas consumption in Sri Lanka, a shortage of gas cylinders has caused immense hardship to consumers who query the Shell company's commitment to the public.

Gas dealers and suppliers say it is not only the people but they too are facing the problem.

A gas dealer from Kelaniya told The Sunday Times that they have not been provided with cylinders for more than a month.

"Every day more than twenty people come in search of cylinders and we have to turn them back saying cylinders have not yet come. When we informed the company they say that they have the cylinders but slow in the production side," he said.

Shell Company Director Jules Croonen told The Sunday Times that the market has expanded by 40 percent after Shell took over operations.

He dismissed allegations that there had been a shortage. He said that due to the demand, an additional 325,000 cylinders were imported and a further 100,000 would be brought this year.

Deshamanya for 14 Lankans

Fourteen top Sri lankan personalities, including artistes, lawyers and businessmen, have been conferred the National Honour, Deshamanya, to mark the Golden Jubilee of Independence, the governemt announceed yesterday.

According to a Gazette notification, President Chandrika Kumaratunga has conferred the Deshamanya award on C. P. de Silva, Ken Balendra, Doreen Wickramasinghe, Thamara Kumari llangaratne, E. D. Wikremanayake, R. K. W. Goonesekera, Vernon Mendis, H. L. de Silva, Aries Thomas Abraham Kovoor, Ranjith Abeysooriya, Duncan White, C. R. Panabokke, W. D Amaradeva, and Chitrasena.

The Deshabandu award has been conferred on P. T. de Silva, Ananda Soysa, R. S. Thanabalasundaram, A. M. Dharmasena, Nowfer Saly Jabir, R. P. J. Pathirana, S. D. Gunadasa, S. W. Silva, M. James Perera, M. D. D. Pieris, T. Duraisingam, M. A. H. Muhammed Hussain, M. G. Mendis, Chasnyn Musafer, B. Y. Thudawe, Lady Puvaneshwari Vaithianathan and K. P. T. S. Jinasena.

The Veera Chudamani award has been conferred on Manorani Sarawanamuttu.

Vidya Jyothi:

D. P. Anura Fernando, C. B. Dissanayake, M. A. Careem, J. B Peiris, Diyanath Samarasinghe, Senaka Dias Bandaranayake, Arjuna Aluwihare, V. K. Samaranayake and R. O. Barnes Wijesekera

Kala Keerthi:

Premasiri Kemadasa, Irangani Serasinghe, Reggie Siriwardene, Dharmasiri Jayakody and Nalini Jayasuriya

Vidya Nidhi:

Norman Rienzie de Silva, S. K. Sayakkara and Prematilake Wijesekera.

Kala Suri:

Jiffry Yoonoos, Parakrama Kodituwakku, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, J. S. B. Jaya Rani Perera, S. A D. D. Samarasekera, D. V. Richard de Silva, Jayalath Manoratne, Tissa Abeysekera and A. Sivanesa Selvan.

Sri Lanka Thilaka:

H. K. Hettiarachchi, D. C. M. Piyatilake, T. A. Sirisena, K. Arnis, Karunapala Aprakke, Piyadasa Wickramanayake, K. S. Jayasena, G. Liyanage David, M. R. T. Karunaratne, Kuragala Pinsara, W. Jayathilaka, Edmund Opanayake, G. S. B. Senanayake, U. M. Haniffa (Maruthoor Ghani), S. V. P. Tikiri Panikkiya and Sunil Premadasa.

Veera Prathapa:

Cprl. R. P. R. Wickramapala, O. R. A. K. Perera and Amithapala Weerasinghe

Sri Lanka Ratna for non-Sri Lankans

Susumu Saegi, Chairman Noritake Co. Ltd.

Gangaramaya launches health project for Pirivenas

The Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo has launched a project to donate material to Pirivenas to help these institutions obtain water and sanitary facilities. Some 103 Pirivenas have already benefited through this project.

Assistance for the project has come from DesVos organisation in Germany where school children contributed with money saved from their pocket money. While the Direct Help Organisation in Sri Lanka co-ordinates this project, the Sri Jinaratna Adyapana Ayathanaya of the Gangaramaya, conducts it. Each Pirivena could receive upto Rs. 50,000/- worth of material.

All Pirivenas in the island can be recipients of this aid on applications made to the Pirivena Rehabilitation Project, Gangaramaya, Colombo 2. Those in difficult areas will receive special consideration. This project has its objective-cleanliness and good health.

Colombo Mayor Karu Jayasuriya was associated with this project when he was Sri Lanka's Ambassador in Germany. Donations for the Navam Maha Perahera which will not be held in 1999, will be utilised for similar work in temples and schools.

BASL raps police act

The Bar Association executive committee has moved a resolution condemning a recent incident in which a high court judge and his son were allegedly harassed by the police.

The resolution said: The Executive Committee of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka is dismayed at the conduct of certain police officers regarding the incident concerning Mr. Titus Cooray, High Court Judge and his son. The Executive Committee calls upon the authorities inclusive of the Inspector General of Police to take immediate action in this regard."

Scorching heat? There's hope, but health problems loom

By Shelani de Silva.

The scorching heat that is making electric fans useless, will last only for a few weeks, as the monsoon rains are expected next month, Meteorological Department Chief A. W. Mohottala said.

The heat which is experienced in several areas despite evening showers these few days, will gradually decrease with the onset of monsoon rains in mid May, he said.

The prevailing drought conditions have caused water shortages in several areas, but the Met Dept. says the main agricultural areas have not been directly affected.

According to Dr. Mohottala, Sri Lanka has been receiving some rain since February, thus averting a severe drought. "What we are experiencing at present is the inter Monsoon rains," he said.

"At present the rain fall is below normal. The main agricultural areas are also benefiting from the inter-monsoon rains," Dr. Mohottala said.

"It is not unusual to experience this type of weather during this period but the temperature has gone up by a few degrees," he said.

Dr. Mohottala said the department was lacking modern equipment and therefore, they were unable to predict long-term weather changes.

Meanwhile, health officials report an outbreak of flu, chickenpox and sore eyes due to the excessive heat.

According to the Director Lady Ridgeway Hospital, Dr. Harsha de Silva, the heat is the major contributor to the flu.

While acknowledging that there are other factors too which contribute to such diseases, he said the drought which resulted in water shortages will cause bowel diseases. "Also there is a large content of dust in the air and this may aggravate lung problems."

However he added that this is a seasonal factor which is also experienced by some other countries.

"But in other countries people use a vaccine during this time. It is called 'Flue Vaccine.' .But unfortunately in Sri Lanka this is not popular," Dr. de Silva said.

Meanwhile, Ceylon Electricity Board Vice Chairman Neil Perera told The Sunday Times no power cuts would be imposed as the national grid was being supplemented by several thermal power plants.

"We are slowly reducing our dependence on hydro power. Several thermal power plants have been installed in the recent past.

So we are confident that there will be no power cuts," he said.

No more his voice

Sunil Sarath HaputhanthrieSunil Sarath Haputhanthrie a veteran proof reader in all three languages for almost half a century, passed away last Tuesday.

Sunil who joined the Government Press in the early 50's served in that premier State printing institution for some 35 years before joining Wijeya Newspapers from the inception in 1985. For the past 12 years Sunil was a well known and well loved figure in the Proof Reading Department, his strong voice going on and on like reciting some stanzas. The cremation takes place today at the Baddegana cemetery in Kotte, at 4.00 p.m.

He leaves his wife Sunanda, sons Hemantha and Nishantha.

Death of a top agriculturist

Leander Johnpulle, one of Sri Lanka's leading agriculturists, passed away yesterday at the age of 89.

During a long and productive career in the Department of Agriculture, he set up several farm schools, was in charge of the producction of vegetable seeds, large animal husbandry farms and helped improve rice yields by modern methods of cultivation. He retired as Assistant Director and then went to the Bahamas on a Commonwealth assignment to serve as agricultural consultant to the government there. He has also written several books on tropical agriculture.

The cremation took place yesterday at the General Cemetery, Kanatte.

Close to 'Kabaa'

From Mohammed Qassim in Saudi Arabia

The final batch of Sri Lankan Haj pilgrims arrived here on Thursday, some 5,000 Sri Lankans have gone to Haj this year.

Already one million Haj pilgrims have arrived here for Haj.

The Sri Lankan Haj group is led by Ministers Alavi Moulana and A.H.M. Fowzie.

The two ministers who are now staying in the Holy city of Makkah visited all the camps where there is a large concentration of Sri Lankan pilgrims.

Guidelines to end harassment of Colombo Tamils proposed

By S.S. Selvanayagam & Chris Kamalendran

The Government is expected to issue new guidelines to the security forces within the next few weeks regarding checks and questioning of Tamil civilians in Colombo following widespread allegations of harassment and violation of human rights.

At a meeting chaired by Attorney General Sarath Silva on Thursday it was decided to call a meeting of top police, military and legal officers with representatives of Tamil political parties to discuss ways of ensuring security without causing suffering and humiliation to Tamil civilians.

In recent months Tamil parties have alleged that hundreds of Tamil civilians have been rounded up indiscriminately and treated in a shameful manner. Security authorities say the cordon and search operations and other tough measures are necessary in view of widespread infiltration by the LTTE and the recent spate of terrorist attacks.

Tamil party sources said that among the matters to be discussed at the coming meeting would be the speeding up of cases against detainees, ways of minimising harassment and preventing security officers from demanding bribes.

Security sources told The Sunday Times there would be no relaxation of the tight security crack down pending the meeting.

As the charges and counter charges continued, the main Tamil party the TULF has filed a petition before the Human Rights Commission (HRC) in respect of the large scale arrests and detention and other forms of denial and restriction of the freedom of movement and infringement of fundamental rights of Tamils within the city of Colombo.

In a complaint to HRC Chairman O.S.M. Seneviratne TULF President M. Sivasithamparam said his party was deeply disturbed at the policy of harassment, arbitrary detention and interference with the freedom of movement of law abiding citizens.

By this campaign of the security authorities, the fundamental rights of Tamils were being violated solely on the grounds of their ethnicity, he said.

Legal safeguards and even recent rulings of the Supreme Court were being callously disregarded, he said, urging the HRC to summon top security officers including the IGP, for a public hearing on the ill treatment of Tamils.

The TULF leader has referred to the Supreme Courts ruling that there must be grounds to believe that a person is engaged in the commission of an offence before he is arrested.

It would thus be a violation of the law to arrest a person at a checkpoint on the mere suspicion of the arresting officer and his belief that evidence may eventually turn up.

"No regular procedures are being followed in regard to identity documents Some officers demand police certificates and other ad hoc forms of documentation in addition to the national identity card.

They have no legal authority to demand such documentation. Inconsistency in this regard is causing further uncertainty amongst citizens. Tamils have complained of rude and humiliating treatment in the police stations when they go there to register visitor," he said.

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