Win- win solution for all parties without additional costs In the Sunday Times last week, there was a news item highlighting the difficulties faced by a community of fishermen because of the operations of the Lakvijaya coal power plant off Puttalam. From the report it appears that ships carrying coal to the power plant sometimes [...]


Letters to the Editor


Win- win solution for all parties without additional costs

In the Sunday Times last week, there was a news item highlighting the difficulties faced by a community of fishermen because of the operations of the Lakvijaya coal power plant off Puttalam. From the report it appears that ships carrying coal to the power plant sometimes arrive off schedule and off track, thereby causing damage and destruction to fishing nets of the fishermen of the area who had laid their fishing nets in the path of the ships , because they had not known the changes in schedules.
Destruction of a fishing net must be a devastating loss to the fishermen and their families because replacing the net requires a considerable investment and is a burden to those families in their struggle to make ends meet.
After reading the article I felt that there are many solutions to this problem that do not require any investment except for some initiative on the part of the state agency responsible for preventing this kind of situation.
The steps that can be implemented by the authorities:
1. Obtain a monthly schedule of coal ship arrivals and distribute it through Grama Niladari and fishermen unions etc to the fishermen. This can be verified continuously through ship movement websites like too.
2. Coordinate with shipping companies and Lakvijaya and obtain details of changes if the schedule is changed.
3. Obtain mobile numbers of fishermen engaged in fishing in this area and create a group.
4. When an unexpected change is taking place in the schedule send out text messages to the group. Since ship movements are not changed suddenly unless there is an emergency, any change can easily be notified with ample prior notice by the shipper/Lakvijaya to the state agency and in turn the agency can release a group SMS to the fishermen.
5. Fishermen having received the prior notice can take off the nets, if they have laid them in the danger area and allow the ship to pass without their fishing nets being damaged or destroyed.
None of these activities requires any investment other than the cost for the text messages. And if there are 200 such fishermen and a schedule change occurs once a month the total cost for the service would be 200x.25 that is Rs 50.
In the case of ships that are off track, the state agency can demarcate a clear approaching corridor for the ships coming to Lakvijaya and promulgate it. They can also inform shipping companies that ships that violate these corridor boundaries will have a large fine imposed on them because of the danger they pose to the fishing gear and the lives of fishermen.
Ship captains now have two compelling reasons to avoid transgressing the safe corridor; a fine and the additional cost they incur in clearing propellers of remnants of fishing net if they overrun one of them.
It’s a win- win situation for everybody, ships , fishermen and Lakvijaya without any capital investment and very little recurrent expenses.

Rear Admiral Lakshman T. B. Illangakoon   Kandy

Unruly estate youth are at fault not leopards

Hunting for the leopard after the apparent attack

I refer to an article in your January 14 issue, on the apparent leopard attack in Hatton. I live on a private estate near the Katabool water falls, close to Hatton, where there are many sightings of leopards. This is in the vicinity of the area where a woman died in an “apparent” attack by a leopard.

Most often the leopards are harassed by the estate youth.  Last year a leopard with two cubs was sighted above our property and the men tried to capture the cubs with nets and poles. But fortunately the mother was able to move the cubs before the mob returned to capture them. The youth every year set fire around the caves and dry areas around our property, and this causes distress to the leopards. During the dry season from January to end March fires rage in the tea plantations, but there is no way to catch the culprits who start the fires.  Even now as I write this, intoxicated estate youth are setting fires all around, the JEDB estate.

Women pluckers who have unwittingly disturbed leopards resting under tea bushes have through fear fallen and injured themselves, but never been attacked by these peaceful animals.

The leopards have plenty of food, domestic dogs, goats, deer and wildboar to eat. So they are not that desperate to kill human beings, unless provoked. My husband and I have lived in this area for 30 years and the maximum harm the leopards have done is take away domestic dogs, and leave carcasses of deer and wild boar in the fields.

The men talk boldly about killing a leopard and taking its claws and teeth for charms and burying the carcass. In another instance, a leopard had walked through the field, whilst the women were plucking the tea, picked up a domestic dog that had frozen on the spot through fear and walked away with it, without attacking any of the women.

Sending teams to educate the estate youth on how to live peacefully with these animals is essential and perhaps a reward system to inform on any perpetrators with a phone number to call, with a reliable person at the other end to answer and take action, may be the way forward.

Mrs. P. Stork  Via email

 Good calibre members a must for our so-called august assembly

I read the article that appeared in the letters to the Editor section of the Sunday Times of November 12 written by Edward Gunawardena under the topic ‘Why not a few clauses for a better Parliament in the new Constitution?’ He mentions that “if some of the good and better people fill the seats of this august assembly, parliamentary behaviour and language will be better, absenteeism will be less, and debates will be constructive, livelier and interesting.” I cannot agree with him more.

I wish to refer to a statement made by an MP in Parliament a few weeks ago when a heart transplant anaesthetist was referred to as a “Yakshaniyak” mentioning even her name. Anaesthesia is a highly skilled job performed by qualified trained personnel with the highest qualifications obtained from the UK, Australia etc.

Anaesthetists have the right to decide whom and when to anaesthetise depending on the physical status of the patient, type of surgery and many other factors. Therefore a layman has no right or knowledge to make such remarks. Has this remark brought anything good or useful? Probably not. In fact it has demoralised many doctors who work under trying conditions in this country. At an inquiry held a few days later by the Ministry of Health there was no proof for evidence of negligence by any party.

I hope if and when a new constitution is drafted, steps will be taken to allow members of good calibre to be selected.

 Dr. M.M.Rajapakse  Via email


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