Letters to the Editor


Referendum and LTTE factor

There have been reports that the government is contemplating the holding of a referendum on the current peace process.

What will be the question the citizens will have to answer, yes or no? Will it be: "Are you for peace or against peace"?

There is no doubt what the answer will be. It will definitely be for peace. Hence, such a referendum will be a waste of time and money. Instead, the question should be: "Are you for peace on the basis of giving into all the demands of the LTTE or against this?"
I for one will vote against, considering the brutality the LTTE has inflicted on innocent people. I am sure a majority, whatever their community or faith, will agree with me. While the people appreciate the efforts of the government to resolve this problem, they request the government to be cautious in spending money that the country can ill-afford, in holding a referendum, unless policy is clearly defined.
P. Vadivel

Use coaches to ease Yala chaos

This is with regard to the Hambantota correspondent's article on Yala (The Sunday Times, April 20) which revealed the chaotic situation in Block I with around 350 vehicles entering daily during the April holidays and the lack of guides.

This is not unusual. It has been a recurring problem since the late 1970s with half the number of vehicles. Even then, it was considered a threat to the wildlife.

To preserve the character and charm of Yala and also maintain capacity with regard to people and vehicles, visitors will have to accept restrictions with a well-planned internal transport system (coaches), especially catering to foreign tourists to Block I, provided by the Department of Wildlife.

Opening a new sub-station with the necessary infrastructure and personnel at Kataragama, to divert pilgrims to Block III and encouraging them to enter Block I via Kataragama and not Palatupana has been tried out.

The demand for guides at peak times in the morning and evening was great and the administration imposed a quota system, restricting and staggering the number of vehicles entering the park.

This eliminated confusion and congestion. Above all there were guides to accompany the visitors.

This system was in force from 1979 until the JVP uprising.

The monthly collection at Yala is enormous. The department can afford to have a fleet of coaches for foreign tourists, who come in a large number of private jeeps sometimes with only one or a couple in a jeep.

One coach could carry the visitors coming in four or five jeeps.
Childers Jayawardhana

Traffic congestion: Have ‘Park and Ride’ transport

I read with interest reports on a project to ease traffic congestion and systematise commuter travel in the western region, particularly to and from the city of Colombo.

The plan is to introduce a circular, rapid rail transport system built as a light, medium or heavy rail system.

The project to link the proposed circular transport system with the coastal railroad and share the existing track of the Sri Lanka Railways will pose some difficulties. To link the new system with the existing railway, it will have to be constructed in broad gauge or the coastal section will have to be provided a dual-gauge track.

As far as I know, there is only one light railway in broad gauge in the world, and this is in Barcelona, Spain.

Worldwide the light railways make use of the standart- cape-, meter- or narrow gauge for which less land is required. I don't think any operator would want to construct the circular rail transport system in broad gauge, since he has to build several flyovers and longer sections of elevated tracks on pillars.

There are also plans to provide a staggered commuter service as in Bombay on the south-western railway line.

If both transport systems want to use the same track, at least a third track has to be constructed from Ratmalana to Fort. For each broad gauge track at least six metres of land would be needed.

The present track is not broad enough to carry a proper ballast profile to secure and stabilize the existing dual line, built under the British for a light weight steam railway and now used for a heavy diesel loco hauled train system.

A bottleneck on this line is the section between Kompannaveediya and Fort as well as Fort and Maradana.

The main question will be, which land can be acquired to widen the track. Can the unfinished Marine Drive project now over 30 years under construction, be abandoned and the land given to the railway?

Before starting difficult projects, resources should be used to revamp the existing rail transport system.

The Ministry of Western Region Development should develop "Park and Ride" transport plans like in other cities such Paris and Amsterdam to carry commuters from the town to the suburbs.

Why not build a new bus terminal and parking ground in Wadduwa and provide a fast DMU train to Colombo-Fort and Maradana with staggered halts on the route, every 15 minutes.

Dr. Frank Wingler

Do they know the meaning of Vesak?

I have recently seen articles in some of the newspapers that there is a proposal to make Vesak 'celebrations' a tourist attraction. Apparently, this is with a view to attracting not only Buddhist tourists but also non-Buddhist, western tourists during this period.

The whole concept is repugnant to me.

To me, Vesak signifies a very special and sacred date in the Buddhist calendar. A date on which I believe we should ponder and reflect on the teachings of the Gauthama and more importantly their practical application to our own lives.

I do hope that sanity prevails and these ridiculous ideas are rejected, before this special and sacred day of Vesak deteriorates even further.

Keerthi Wickramasuriya
Colombo 2

Channel Eye's blind policy

Channel Eye has many programmes in Tamil including a film in the afternoon. The control tower at Palaly helps ensure clarity.

The government has made these arrangements in the interest of viewers in the north since the reception of Rupavahini and other stations is not good.

But the control tower at Palaly seems to be manipulating the programmes, depriving people in the north of Channel Eye programmes.

Tamil films scheduled to be telecast are not screened. Instead English movies are substituted.
M. Ratnam
Point Pedro

How precious is life?

Life is precious. That is what all of us say and preach. If it is so precious, why do we let tens of thousands of people die of starvation every year in Africa while tons of wheat and mountains of butter are dumped in the sea?

One million abortions are also carried out everyday in the world. More than one million children under 5 die of starvation, malnutrition and disease daily.

On the other hand, the lives of victims of murder are less precious than those of the murderers.

NGOs, intellectuals, professionals, human rights activists and academics talk of the irreversibility of the death penalty.

They never take into consideration the millions of lives lost through abortions and starvation. Instead of trying to save one murderer, those who consider life so precious should rush to save the lives of those millions.
E.M.G. Edirisinghe

Homagama's bottleneck

Heavy traffic clogs the stretch of road from Homagama upto Station Road, which continues as Athurugiriya Road.

Sometime back, the RDA made demarcations to widen the road, but lack of funds may have hampered the project. It is hoped that Minister Bandula Guna-wardena who represents the Homagama constituency and the Homagama Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman would give serious consideration to widening this busy road.
A. Abeygoonawardhana

Note of appreciation

This is a note of appreciation to the Director and ICU staff of the Kurunegala Hospital for treating my wife who was taken ill while on a trip on April 18.
D.W. Kulasekara


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