Expedite flood relief Dharmavijaya Foundation says
The Dharmavijaya Foundation has stressed the need for post-flood rehabilitation work to be carried out urgently. The President of the Foundation, Y.W. Gunawardane, the Government Agent of Ampara during 1978-79 and the Deputy Commissioner Essential Services in 1988, has proposed that the President and Prime Minister declare June as "The Month of Rehabilitation of Flood Victims".

"The Ven. Maha Nayake Thero, the Maha Sangha and the Christian clergy will no doubt give their blessings and assistance to this national effort if the President and the Prime Minister spearhead the rehabilitation drive," Gunawardane said.

The foundation lists as priorities the provision of alternate lands for resettlement for those affected by the earthslips, the cleaning of wells, economic rehabilitation and psychological treatment of those affected by the trauma.

Mr. Gunawardane appealed to the Governor of the Central Bank and the Treasury Secretary to intervene for the benefit of the worst affected victims. "International lending agencies and NGOs should make every effort to assist the victims," he added.

Huge ransom paid for release of Maldivians, claims relative
Two Maldivians were recently reportedly abducted at knife point and 30,000 dollars paid as a ransom for their release, a family member of one of those held told a Maldivian news agency this week.

The proprietor of a store, “Fari Paree” in Male, Ismail Shujau and his companion, a man named Bakr, have since then returned to Male safely, Ismail’s younger brother Ibrahim Shujau told the Haveeru news service.

Ibrahim said that Ismail and Bakr were held in Negombo for four days while they were on their way to the Bandaranaike International Airport to return to the Maldives. “They were taken to a warehouse in Negombo. They were tortured and a knife held to their necks,” said Ibrahim, who made the transfer of 30,000 dollars (about three million Sri Lankan rupees) to Sri Lanka for the release of his brother and Bakr.

“My brother did not have that kind of money with him when he was abducted, so we had to transfer the ransom money to Colombo from Male,” Ibrahim said. He said that the abductors had asked Ismail to hand over the ransom money to a Sri Lankan national, married to a Maldivian, who lived in the Maldives.

Ismail and Bakr had travelled to the Katunayake airport in a car belonging to a ‘friend’ who turned out to be one of the abductors, Ibrahim said. “At a certain point, the ‘friend’ had told Ismail and Bakr that he had to stop at a warehouse before going to the airport. Despite Ismail and Bakr’s protests, the ‘friend’ took them to the warehouse. The ‘friend’ then asked Bakr to give him the money,” Ibrahim said.

He also said Bakr had once told him that he owed the ‘friend’ some 7,000 US dollars.
“We are very much confused now. We don’t really know what has happened,” Ibrahim said. After returning safely to Male, Ismail had officially made a complaint at the Maldives’ police headquarters.

However, police have not commented on the case.Haveeru has come to know that Ismail, Bakr and the Sri Lankan national are now under police custody while investigations proceed.

Factory workers hospitalised with mysterious illness
At least 40 workers of a tyre factory in Gampaha have been admitted to the Gampaha General Hospital mainly with breathing difficulties while some have developed fits, a doctor attached to the hospital said.

The workers may have fallen ill due to food poisoning or inhalation of toxic gas, the doctor said. Clinical investigations are being carried out to ascertain the cause of the illness, he added. There are more than 30 females among the patients and their condition is not considered serious, he said.

LTTE frees two policemen
The LTTE yesterday released the two policemen they had taken into custody two days ago to two ASPs in the Muttur area, a spokesperson for the Scandinavian monitors said.

The policemen attached to the Serunuwara police station were identified as PC Gamini Herath and RPC Udaya Kumara. They were taken into custody when they went to serve summons on a suspect who had failed to appear in court.

The policemen had not realised that they had entered an LTTE-controlled area to serve the summons, police sources said.

Use water sparingly, appeals Board
The Water Board has appealed to consumers to use water sparingly in Colombo and the suburbs. The Additional General Manager of the Water Board, Mr. Kithsiri Perera, told The Sunday Times that the consumption of water has increased considerably during the past few weeks and this is making it difficult for the Board to maintain an uninterrupted supply.

"The main reason for the increased consumption is the humid conditions prevailing and this has adversely affected supplies. The water supply to Moratuwa and Dehiwela in particular has been disrupted intermittently recently, Perera said.

The Water Board has sent 14 water bowsers to Matara and Ratnapura to provide safe drinking water to people who have been affected by the floods and this has aggravated the problem, he added.

The Water Board is planning to carry out a public awareness campaign in an effort to persuade the public to use water sparingly.

Lanka had air-conditioning in first century: Professor Gamage
By Nilika Kasturisinghe
"Sri Lanka had air-conditioning in the 1st century, not by using electricity but by hydraulic means," Prof. Chandrawickrama Gamage stated at the launching on Wednesday by the Sihala Urumaya, of a CD containing the history of Sri Lanka.
"Once again we can recreate this system and show it to the world. It will even be a tourist attraction," Prof. Gamage said.

"We can show that while people were still living in jungles in other parts of the world such developments had taken place in Ceylon" he said. The technique used for cooling was by means of a dried buffalo skin affixed above the roof of a building with water being allowed to drip on to it from several pipes, creating the effect of rain. The winds which blew across and into the building were naturally cooling.

Sri Lanka had not only physical air-conditioning but mental air-conditioning as well, Prof. Gamage said. There were special pictures kept in buildings in the Anuradhapura era to be hung according to the changing seasons, 'cooling' pictures for the hot season and 'warming' pictures for the cool season, he said.

We have not studied the creations of ancient Sri Lanka. In the west they have used computers to reconstruct ancient buildings and discover the technology of bygone eras, he said."We propose to restore the grandeur of our history, the grandeur of our ancient technology," Prof. Gamage said.

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