Thonda meeting again on Kotmale
meeting between Ministers Karu Jayasuriya and Arumugam Thondaman
is expected to take place this week to resolve the dispute over
the Upper Kotmale project.
said Mr. Thondaman had met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on
Thursday and protested that a committee had given the greenlight
for the project merely on assurances given by the Ceylon Electricity
had said the CWC needed concrete proof backed by technical data
to assure that the project would not have an adverse impact on the
environment or the common people.
said the Premier had promised to appoint another committee including
Central Environmental Authority officials to further review the
be followed by a CWC meeting with Power and Energy Minister Karu
Jayasuriya who is due to return from Japan tomorrow.
As the review
goes on, an August 15 ceremony for the laying of the foundation
for the Kotmale project is likely to be postponed.
a non-cooperation campaign by estate trade unions is continuing
since Wednesday and reports said work on estates was seriously affected.
led by the CWC are demanding that the daily wage be increased to
Rs. 151 but management companies insist the maximum they could offer
is Rs. 142.
over battery fumes
Residents in a village in Mirigama living adjoining
an export processing zone, are fuming against what they claim is
a serious health hazard caused by the fumes being emitted from a
battery recycling plant.
most affected is Loluwagoda, in the Mirigama area where many children
are suffering from wheeze, cough and other respiratory sickness
by inhaling the fumes. Adults too complain of nausea and headaches
caused not only by the fumes but also by the pungent smell that
lingers in the air long after the fumes have disappeared.
been been happening for almost a year since this factory started
and we have complained to relevant authorities but little has been
done about it. We are not asking the factory to be closed down but
some safeguards be implemented so that they won't pollute our environment
and make us sick," said B.Victor Cooray, a senior villager
brother and children, Janith (7) and Vindya (5) have been falling
sick regularly since the factory waste began to pollute their once
have to visit the doctor every week. They are wheezing and coughing
and the question that most doctors ask is are they inhaling some
kind of smoke," Mr.Cooray said.
the post mistress of Loluwagoda whose office faces the factory walls
also complained of sickness due to the exposure to fumes and smells.
stay in the homes at night as the situation gets worse. We close
all the windows but the smell comes through the air vents,"
she said. The particular factory collects used lead batteries which
are then broken down and melted and made into lead blocks and imported
of the BOI's Environment management Division Tissa Fernando said
the factory was located there only after an environment assessment
survey was carried out by the Central Environment Authority (CEA).
According to him there had been a small problem at the initial stages
but now it had been corrected.
He said that
instructions had also been given to minimize any damage to the environment
and the BOI was carrying out regular checks. However Mr. Fernando
admitted that some of the equipment that purified the gases that
were emitted had been out of order for sometime but were now functioning.
Mirigama MOH Dr.Mrs.R.Siriwardena who visits the village said there
was a threat of lead poisoning and the problem needed to be tackled
at a higher level, as all that the health authorities could do was
to point out the possible health hazzards.
by the villagers, members of the Mirigama Pradeshiya sabha, Health
Ministry and the CEA had visited the factory last month but villagers
complain that the situation remians the same.
health officials who visited the factory had voiced concern regarding
health hazzards and suggested that the employees blood samples be
checked for the presence of lead.
for their comments, a spokesman for the factory insisted there was
no problem and they were following the anti-pollution guidelines
set out by the BOI. However their claims are of little comfort to
villagers in the area whose once clean, green environment is heavy
with the odour of battery waste and whose health problems increase
August for Parliament
While the government is pushing away with plans
to rush 36 bills through parliament this month, the Opposition is
to fire several no confidence motions.
Among the ministers
at the receiving end are John Amaratunga, Tilak Marapana, Ravi Karunanayake
and Jayalath Jayawardene.
sources said the motion against Interior Minister Amaratunga is
to be debated from August 21 with the main charges being continued
harassment or oppression of Opposition members or supporters and
the failure to curb the crime rate.
JVP group leader
Vimal Weerawansa said the joint opposition motion against Defence
Minister Tilak Marapana would focuss on his alleged mishandling
of the crisis in the East and the manner in which the LTTE has been
allowed to carry on its operations freely.
Nimal Siripala de Silva said the motion against Commerce and Consumer
Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake was being finalised but it would
focuss on the alleged fraud in the recent import of some 40,000
tons of rice by the CWE and other malpractices in that establishment.
Mr. De Silva
said the motion against Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Minister
Jayalath Jayawardene would focus on charges levelled against him
by sections of his own party.
urges TNA to put more pressure
The LTTE last night called on Tamil National Alliance
parliamentarians to bring more pressure on the government and brief
diplomatic missions on the need for the speedy implementation of
the ceasefire agreement.
The call was
made when the TNA parliamentarians met LTTE's political Wing leader
S.P. Thamilchelvan in Kilinochchi for four hours of talks.
The LTTE had
expressed dissatisfaction about the implementation of the ceasefire
agreement and told them to bring pressure on Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe to implement the remaining areas of the ceasefire
agreement. They also called on the TNA MPs to carry out a campaign
among the Colombo-based diplomats to ensure full implementation
of the agreement.
also agreed that the LTTE's political wing members and TNA parliamentarians
should work side by side and cooperate in carrying out work in the
northern and eastern provinces.
also covered rehabilitation work in the northern province.
All TNA MPs,
except for TULF MP Mavai Senathiraja were present while two former
MPs, A. Vinodhalingam (TELO) and Suresh Premachandran (EPRLF- Suresh
Wing), were also in the delegation. From the LTTE, the head of the
Administrative Unit, Sudha Master and district political leaders
of Jaffna, Mannar and Vavuniya were present.
Prior to the
visit to Kilinochchi, the TNA called for a compromise on high security
zones, whereby civilians would be able to move around in those areas
under some special security arrangements.
The call came
after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe met TNA leaders on Thursday
and said that although troops had pulled out from places of worship,
schools and public places by Friday, it was not possible to allow
civilians to settle down in high security zones.
said the evacuation of troops from the high security zones was a
matter that needed to be discussed extensively at the direct talks
with the LTTE.
Secretary R Sambanthan told The Sunday Times they were awaiting
a response from the government on their compromise proposal.
is that civilians have been living in refugee camps for 15 years.
It is a violation of their fundamental right to stop these people
from resettling in their homes which are in high security zones.
The government has to draw up a special security programme and make
some arrangement. There cannot be a blanket restriction," Mr.
Of the 47 schools
occupied in the Jaffna District, 36 are in the Palaly high security
zones. However the Army has suggested that 22 of the 36 schools
can function after a negotiated settlement. Of the 11 schools outside
the high security zone, two schools are situated in a heavily mined
In the Wanni,
only nine schools were occupied by the troops and none of these
comes within high security zones. However two schools are still
Of the eight
schools in the Trincomalee District, three schools are in the high
security zones. However the Army has said these three schools can
reopen after reconstruction.
The four schools
occupied in the Batticaloa District do not come within high security
zones while only one school was occupied by the troops in the Mannar
against illegal weapons misfiring
Senior DIG H. M. G. B Kotakadeniya- involved in
a major battle with the IGP and other DIGs-said proper steps had
not been taken by the police department to facilitate the surrender
of weapons during the amnesty period in January.
He said he
believed that if the armed forces had been brought into the operation
the efforts to get back the illegal arms would have been more successful.
in a circular said there were stringent laws against the possession
or use of illegal arms but the police were not doing their job properly.
Minister John Amaratunga said after the failure of the amnesty,
special squads were still conducting random checks.
appealed to the public to give us any information. The squads are
conducting random raids and road checks to unearth more weapons,"
added that many deserters were also known to be selling weapons
for relatively low prices which were attractive to the underworld.
SSP Mahinda Hettiarachchi director in charge of crime busting said
the Police and the military were being provided with weapons, and
even if a weapon was rented out, there was no possible way to trace
to whom it had been issued.