Is our country going off the rails? After protests by residents, environmentalists and politicians, the Government abandoned its idea of building two internal airports in Kundasale and Nuwara Eliya. Now the Government has come up with another quixotic project – to convert the Uda Pusselawa narrow gauge railway line to a broad gauge line from [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Letters to the Editor


Is our country going off the rails?

After protests by residents, environmentalists and politicians, the Government abandoned its idea of building two internal airports in Kundasale and Nuwara Eliya. Now the Government has come up with another quixotic project – to convert the Uda Pusselawa narrow gauge railway line to a broad gauge line from Nanu Oya to Nuwara Eliya.

Sri Lanka Railways is running at a huge loss. Does the country need more railway lines?

This line was built by the British mainly to transport estate produce – tea from Brookside to Nanu-Oya – and passengers, mainly Indian labour. The line served a purpose at the time and was financially viable. Because road transport is cheaper and faster, this line was scrapped in 1945.

Whenever an infrastructure project is under consideration, a feasibility study should be conducted by experts to assess the socio-economic benefits. The project goes ahead only if the project is found to be worthwhile and beneficial.
Has the Railway Department or the Ministry of Transport conducted such a study for the Nanu Oya-Nuwara Eliya broad gauge line, or is this yet another fancy idea of a politician or a political party?

Not many people will want to take a railway ride from Nanu Oya to Nuwara Eliya that takes twice as long as the bus ride.
Perhaps those who advocate wasteful expenditure had tourists on their minds. But then, how many months of the year do tourists, local and foreign, visit Nuwara Eliya? Three months, at most.

The railway track would remain idle the other nine months, incurring maintenance and wage expenses. Our railway is already running at a huge loss. We have heard and read that the projects undertaken in the South, including Hambantota, have brought little financial or social benefits. Cricket matches played in the Hambantota cricket grounds do not attract capacity crowds of 5000, while the stands are full at the matches played in Colombo. The response at Pallekele was hardly better, as we saw on TV. The Hambantota harbour project is not what the government expected.

The Uda Pusselawa project may interest the Indian company working on the Northern Line, and the Southern Express railway line. By the way, was this express track necessary?

The Indian loan was utilised mainly to employ their own men and purchase materials and machinery from India, while our experienced labour force and officials simply looked on. In short, India provided the loan, and then used the funds to suit themselves, leaving us to repay the loan with interest. The Government should ask itself whether tourism is the answer to economic development, at the expense of our culture and heritage. In Thailand, the tourist trade thrives on vice, quite forgetting the Pancha Seela. Ours is the only country that preserves the Noble Teachings of Lord Buddha.

S. Weerakone Banda, Kandy

Rotting garbage and rotten state service in Kaduwela 

Some time ago I handed over a letter addressed to the Kaduwela Urban Council chairman, requesting that garbage collection happens more than once a week. I also requested that garbage be collected on specified days, otherwise the bags of rubbish remain outside our homes for days and the contents spill out and attract vermin and encourage bacteria growth.

When I handed over the letter to the Kaduwela Urban Council chairman’s so-called secretary, the woman had the impertinence to tear up my letter in front of me, forgetting that she was a servant of the state, whose wages were funded by rate-payers like myself. Such staff only bring disgrace to government institutions, such as the Kaduwela Urban Council.
Meanwhile, nothing has changed. Garbage continues to rot in the streets of Kaduwela and Malabe, and when the garbage collectors will come is anyone’s guess.

We residents who live along the by-roads of Sudarshana Mawatha, Malabe, hope the chairman of the Kaduwela Urban Council will get down to the job of properly serving the people of his area.

D.P. Jayasinghe Via e mail

Request to Public service commission for action

The Eastern Provincial Secretary of Education is brazenly flouting the rules of the Sri Lanka Education Administrative Service. Is this corruption, abuse of power, or ignorance?

I list below instances of the administrative service being abused.
1. In an All Island Service, when the administrative responsibility of appointments is entrusted to the Public Service Commission, appointments of Assistant Directors of Education, whether they can perform their duties or not, is given by the Provincial Secretary of Education.
2. These appointments are given without calling for applications or conducting any interviews.
3. These appointments are given above the approved cadres, and in some education zones more than one Assistant Director of Education is appointed for a particular subject.
4. Officers appointed to special cadres in the Sri Lanka Education Administrative Service are transferred to general cadre vacancies, without knowing they have been selected from a different examination with different cut-off out marks that are lower than the marks scored by general cadre officers.
5. Instructions issued to the Zonal Director of Education to appoint a teacher to the post of Assistant Director of Education, entrusting the responsibility of the Public Service Commission to the Zonal Director of Education.
6. Granting acting appointment to principals and teachers as Deputy Directors of Education; a promotional post to officers in Class-Ill of the Sri Lanka Education Administrative Service.

All these appointments flout the proper procedures.Eligible and better qualified teachers are being overlooked.
Will the Public Service Commission please take action and investigate allegations of bribery and corruption?

K. M. Aliyar, Eravur

White or brown – which is more nutritious?

Many health-conscious people choose to buy brown eggs over white eggs. Are brown eggs really a healthier choice, or are you wasting money on dark eggs? There is a misconception that eggs of the “gam kukula” or “natu koli muttai” and brown eggs are superior to white eggs.

Brown egg shells get their pigment from protoporphyin, a substance derived from hemoglobin. This pigment is naturally laid down as the egg is formed. Egg shell colour is determined by the breed of chicken. There are even chickens that lay pastel-coloured eggs.

Coloured eggs may be appealing to the eye, but the reality is that brown eggs and “gam kukula” eggs or “natu koli muttai” have no real health advantage over white eggs.

The average-size egg contains 5.6 grams of protein, essential amino acids, 2.4 grams monounsaturated fatty acids, 12 minerals, inclusive of trace minerals such as selenium, zinc and 11 vitamins. The budget-minded shopper might stick with the white eggs, as brown eggs offer no extra health benefits, nor do they taste any different.

Dr. Allagamuthu Nandakumar

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