Demolished stalls to come up again

By S. Siriwardene

All unauthorised stalls carrying out sales in the Beruwala Maggona area close to the sea and Galle Road were reportedly demolished sans any notice by authorities of the Beruwala Pradeshiya Sabha.
The traders had complained that the harsh treatment meted out to them was unbearable.

Many of them gave vent to their ire by making statements against the Pradeshiya Sabha.Ms. Siriyalatha, whose stall was demolished, said fish worth around Rs. 30,000 was thrown away, even though she has been carrying on her business for the last two years.

51-year-old Benny Jayasuriya lamented that he was carrying on his business by taking loans and said it would have been better if he was killed. He alleged he was assaulted and cried that he had no means to feed his children now.

However, now the ejected traders have been told to erect temporary stalls and continue their business. Presently the traders are busy erecting temporary stalls to continue their trade.

Illegal Tamil radio station raided in Matale, businessman arrested

By J.A.L.. Jayasinghe

A businessman who was running an illegal Tamil radio station broadcasting to Matale town was arrested and his equipment seized by detectives from the Central Province Terrorism Investigation Division (TID)

The suspect had been running a private communication centre in Matale town and had based the radio station near a kovil close to the city, Inspector Sunil Yatawara of the TID said. This radio station had been transmitting Tamil songs and other programmes.

Former Ombudsman passes away

Prof. Bertram Bastiampillai

Widely respected political scientist and historian, Prof. Bertram Bastiampillai passed away on Friday.

Born in Anuradhapura, and educated at St. Patrick’s College in Jaffna, Prof. Bastiampillai was for several years the professor of political science and history at the Colombo University.

In his lectures and regular newspaper columns, he gave thousands of students and other people a deep insight on historical political events. After his service at the university, Prof. Bastiampillai was appointed Sri Lanka’s first Ombudsman or Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.

His body is lying at A.F. Raymond’s parlour in Colombo and the funeral will take place tomorrow at the Catholic section of the General Cemetery in Kanatte.

Villagers in landslide affected areas left in limbo

Villagers of Passara, Haliela, Soranathota and Badulla Pradeshiya Sabha areas who have left their villages due to the danger of landslides are languishing in temporary shelters in safer areas awaiting the results of research carried out by the Geological Survey Department.

About 400 families from Welgolle and Aralugolla in Passara PS area, Nagollagama in Soranathota PS area, Weerapura, Badulusirigama and Jayagama in the Haliela PS area are those awaiting return.
Authorities are so far unable to decide whether the villagers could be sent back or sent to alternative areas as there is a dearth of researchers to complete the investigations on whether it is safe to return to the affected areas.

Most of the refugees have moved out to homes of their relatives as the basic facilities for them are inadequate in the camps.

Politicians ruffled when told of landslide risks to Uva campus

By Palitha Ariyawansa

There was a tense, awkward moment last Monday during an illustrated talk on the risk of landslides in Badulla district. The talk was given in the presence of a group of politicians.

Geologist S. Dharmasena was reviewing landslide possibilities at a district co-ordinating meeting held at the Badulla Secretariat auditorium. Mr. Dharmasena is attached to the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) of the Ministry of Disaster Management. Among those present were the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management, Nimal Siripala de Silva; Member of Parliament, Dilan Perera, and Uva Province Chief Minister, Sashindra Rajapaksa.

Mr. Dharmasena was showing photographs of landslide-prone areas in the vicinity of the Uva campus that led to a lively discussion between NBRO officers and senior government officials. The discussion developed into an argument, at which point Minister Dilan Perera wanted to know whether the Uva campus area was in fact “in danger.” Mr. Dharmasena said the campus was in danger, and the subject was soon dropped.

According to the National Building Research Organisation, the site has been vulnerable to landslides since 1986. A district map produced at the meeting of Badulla district and its four divisions clearly indicates areas subject to landslides, including land occupied by the Uva campus.

In response to the report’s findings, the Uva campus Vice-Chancellor has suggested a change of site, as the danger area is within 100 metres of the campus. The photographs shown at the meeting revealed the situation clearly.

It is understood that the foundation for the university buildings were of a temporary nature, and were laid when former President Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunge was in power.

The Vice-Chancellor had expressed doubts about putting up new buildings in area that were vulnerable to landslides. This resulted in the closure of the road leading to the Madulsima Plantation Company, the estate hospital, a church, and a children’s centre. Thirty-eight families living in the nearby village of Badulusirigama, also at risk of landslides, have been evacuated.

Following media exposure, the Uva Province Governor visited the site, and photographs were taken, but nothing more was heard from the authorities on the matter. The site is now out of bounds to journalists, which has led to speculation that the public is not being informed of any real natural risks to the campus.

People in the area are also asking why no steps are being taken to prevent wasteful expenditure, and whether an attempt is being made to deceive the present President, just as previous President was deceived.

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