DLB: A question of money
The Development Lotteries Board, a national money spinner, generates a revenue of Rs 950 millions a year and the income almost entirely goes to the President's Fund from which moneys are paid out for a multitude of needy causes. It is also the source of funding for Mahapola Scholarship Scheme.

Minister Ravi Karunanayake complained yesterday that his Ministry, which was responsible for the Mahapola Scholarship Scheme, had not received any moneys from the President's Fund. This again is because the President's Fund had not received the moneys from the Development Lotteries Board. According to Mr. Karunanayake, the President's Fund owes Rs. 584 millions to the Mahapola Scholarship Fund.

He said that last year the Mahapola Scholarship Fund received Rs 130 millions whilst the President's Fund receipts were Rs 1.6 billion. In view of these circumstances, the President believed that if major changes were brought about in the DLB, they would have an adverse impact on the various welfare services provided to the poor people by the President's Fund.

Fears of the privatization of the DLB and Minister Milinda Moragoda's moves to introduce an international lottery scheme, the Norwegian hi-tech lottery game, also compelled the President to move for a takeover.

Until 2001, the DLB functioned under the purview of the President in her capacity as Finance Minister. From 1994 to date, the work carried out by the President's Fund had increased by about 20 times, sources said. Apart from funds released for medical treatment for patients diagnosed with grave illnesses, the President's Fund widened its scope to encompass education, health, human disasters, sports, arts, religious and cultural activities.

'I was burnt and starved'-Lankan maid
By Dilantha Hettige our Matale correspondent
In another tragic tale of suffering of a Lankan housemaid working overseas, Nandawathie returned to Sri Lanka on a stretcher after being burnt and battered by her employer in Saudi Arabia.

Thirty-five-year-old R.M. Nandawathie, who returned to Sri Lanka on May Day with burn injuries had been taken directly to hospital from the airport. A mother of three, Nandawathi went to Saudi Arabia last year as her husband who was a labourer found it hard to make ends meet. Nandawathie had obtained employment through an agency in Anuradhapura.

The first few letters that Nandawathie sent home as she went to Saudi Arabia all stated that she was getting on fine and that she had been employed by a senior police officer. But soon the letters stopped.

Although the husband had made many attempts to get information about his wife from the agency he had failed. Finally after repeated visits to the Bureau of Foreign Employment he managed to get the officials there to issue an order to the agency to file a report on the whereabouts of Nandawathie before April 6 this year.

But thereafter he had no news till he received a telegram a few weeks back from the Bureau with the shocking news that his wife had been admitted to Negombo hospital with burn injuries. A shattered Wijeratned had borrowed Rs. 3000 from neighbours and rushed to see his wife.

Nandawathi, presently receiving treatment at the Womens' Accident Service at the Matale Base Hospital related to us her tale of horror. "I was treated well during my first two months there. But then things changed. It was my employer "Mama" who subjected me to all this. She assaulted me with whatever she could get hold of. The blows I received broke my teeth. Both my legs were also fractured.

“She even burnt me holding a hot iron to my body. She used to hold scorching knives against my skin. Sometimes she would pour hot water on me. She also starved me for days. To prevent me from escaping all the doors and windows of the house were kept locked.

"On the 30th of this month they told me it was necessary to go to the Police Station and dressed me in a frock which covered my body. They also covered my head and I realised that I had been brought to the airport," a sobbing Nandawathie told The Sunday Times.

Nandawathie's only appeal was that at least her children receive some assistance. "After that I don't mind if I die," she said.

City drowns as officials pass the buck
By Faraza Farook
As Colombo drowned in a downpour last week, the usual game of passing the buck regarding poor drainage systems and inactive pumps, was enacted once again with the CMC and UDA trading charges regarding who should be in charge of which section of the city.

Many fingers were pointed at the CMC for the lack of a well-maintained drainage system in the city, which has been identified as the main cause for Colombo going under water every time there have been a few hours of rain. Officials had apparently identified 20 places in the city as flood prone.

Deputy Mayor Azath Sally while admitting that the Municipality should bear a good deal of responsibility in ensuring an efficient water pumping system said, poor maintenance of gullies and unauthorized constructions that have mushroomed in the city, have contributed to the flooding.

He said although notices have been issued to owners of unauthorized construction, nothing has been done yet. Mr. Sally said these constructions would be demolished once the Mayor gave the go ahead.

Promising much, he also said the CMC would take steps to increase the number of gullies in areas identified as flood prone and they would be maintained. He said if the existing gullies had been maintained properly, last week's flooding could have been averted.

However, he said the responsibility of looking into the causes that led to the flooding of the People's Park Complex at Pettah was the responsibility of the UDA. The People's Park Complex had came under several feet of water last week owing to inactive pumps. Although five pumps had been installed, not all of them function.

Mahanayake says no to Rocca
By Shane Seneviratne
Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter Ven. Rambukwella Sri Vippasi Thera has refused to grant an appointment to US Assistant Secretary Christina Rocca, who will be visiting Sri Lanka next week.

US embassy officials on Friday visited the Maligawa to seek an appointment but the prelate had refused stating that he had a tight schedule on the two days of Ms. Rocca's stay in Sri Lanka.

The Sunday Times learns that the embassy officials had visited the Mahanayake on several occasions to request an appointment. It was on Friday that the Mahanayake had refused the appointment.

Meanwhile, the Mahanayake of the Asgirya Chapter Udugama Buddharakitha Thera has granted an appointment to Ms. Rocca at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. Following the meeting the US Assistant Secretary is scheduled to visit the museum which contains pictures of the 1997 bomb attack on the Maligawa. A visit to the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens in the afternoon has also been included.

Ms. Rocca, the US Assistant Secretary for South Asian Affairs is currently, in India with Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage after visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Ms. Rocca will also meet several Government officials, political leaders, non-governmental groups to discuss bilateral and regional issues. After talks in Colombo, Ms. Rocca will visit Kandy and Trincomalee.

Controversial LTTE war memorial opened
By Sinniah Gurunathan
The controversial LTTE war memorial was declared open last Monday at Gopalapuram junction in Nilaveli north of Trincomalee. It was constructed in the memory of 22 LTTE cadres who died in a mid-sea mishap in 1990 when they were returning after attacking a camp of the Eelam National Democratic Front then backed by the Indian Peace Keeping Force.

Mr. Thooyavan, the sole survivor of the mishap, now the political head of the Nilaveli division of the LTTE, and TNA parliamentarian R.Sampanthan declared open the memorial. Three months ago the Kuchchaveli Police filed an action in the Trincomalee magistrates court on a complaint by the Sri Lanka Navy seeking the intervention of the court to prevent the erection of the war memorial as it would cause breach of peace in the area.

Magistrate S. Thiagendran issued notice on Thooyavan to appear in court. When he failed to appear in court the magistrate issued warrant on Mr.Thooyavan. However the magistrate later recalled the warrant and dismissed the action filed stating that the prosecution had failed to furnish necessary evidence to support its case.

The war memorial was opened on Monday with the permission of the government authorities in the presence of the SLMM monitors and the Kuchchaveli Police.

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