15th June 1997


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Mirror Magazine


Country gets poorer but women fare better

Sri Lanka falls 22 in the category of poverty stricken countries in a list of the 78 poorest countries according to the latest United Nations report on human development.

Only 57% of Sri Lankans have access to safe drinking water while some 38% of the children here are under-nourished, the report states.

On the bright side Sri Lanka's women have reached a life expectancy of 75 while another positive feature is that 17% of administrators were women.

Also on the positive side Sri Lanka has a low infant death rate of 19 for every 1000 which is good compared to world averages. In addition some 94% of births are attended by trained personnel.

The Human Development Index (HDI), another index, which is based on income, education and health ranks Sri Lanka at 91 out of 175 countries with an HDI of 0.711. UNDP Representative Arve Ofstad said many countries strive to come close to a full figure and in that respect Sri Lanka has done well.

Mr.Ofstad said local authorities should not be complacent with areas where Sri Lanka had done well and, should concentrate on more development projects.

The nutrition level of an average Sri Lankan, according to the report, is low as an individual is found to consume only 2,275 calories a day which falls well short of the developing countries average off 2,553.

The defense expenditure in Sri Lanka has shown a growing trend, where it rose from 3.8 percent of the GDP to 4.9 percent between 1985 and 1995. Over the same period of the developing world's averages dropped from 7.1% to 3.1%.

NPC calls for urgent talks with LTTE

The National Peace Council of Sri Lanka (NPCSL), has called on the government to present its devolution proposals to the LTTE as a preliminary step for discussions even at this late stage.

Stating that the time for such a presentation is now opportune with the imminent winding up of the Parliamentary Select Committee process, it has also urged the two parties to make overtures to each other to establish a dialogue and to carry out a policy of mutual de-escalation of the military conflict.

NPCSL has said that the government's two-fold strategy of a military campaign to weaken the LTTE and to present a set of political proposals to win the hearts and minds of the Tamil people has failed so far to bring the country closer to peace.

It has pointed out that the LTTE has put up a strong resistance and the casualty figures on both sides have been heavy with the prospect of a protracted guerrilla struggle where everyone will be a loser.

In terms of humanitarian concerns, NPCSL has insinuated that a large area of the North-East is devoid of normal human settlements, adding to the enormous displaced population in the region.

A dead case revived

A legal battle over an alleged pollution of the environment by an undertaker in Kalutara has been going on for years - and the problem is yet unresolved.

The petition filed by some 13 residents who alleged that contaminated water used to wash dead bodies was overflowing into public drains, has been taken up by the Magistrate's Court, then the High Court and now it is back to the original court. The case is to be taken up again on June 24 - almost 11 years after it was first taken up.

Supreme Court orders release

By S.S. Selvanayagam

A 50-year-old businessman who was held at a Bandarawela detention camp for the past few months has been released on the orders of the Supreme Court.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court gave the order on a fundamental rights petition filed by the businessman P. Kanagasivam who claimed he had been detained without any fair charges against him.

Mr. Kanagasivam in his petition said that after his business at Kilinochchi collapsed in May 1996 he had come to his native village of Dolowatte in Matale and settled down there.

In January this year the Kandy Special Investigations Unit had taken him into custody along with his wife Mallika and daughter Thamilvani. His wife was released the next day but he and his daughter were kept in custody. The petitioner alleged that the Police had tried to compel him to make a confession.

He refused but his daughter made a confession. When his wife sought legal advice, the Police had reprimanded her for going to lawyers. Later he and his daughter were moved to the Bandarawela camp from where they both filed their fundamental rights petitions in the Supreme Court.

The bench comprised Justices A.R.P. Amarasinghe, Asoka De.Z. Gunawardene and Ananda Kumaraswamy.

The daughter's petition will be taken up on June 26.

LTTE sympathisers to be deported

Visakhapatnam: Mr. G.V. Krishnaiah, Fifth Metropolitan Magistrate, last Monday directed the Superintendent of Central Prison to arrange for photographs and attestation of necessary documents to facilitate the nine Sri Lankan Tamils, who are now facing a charge of violation of Foreigners Act, to apply to the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner, Chennai, for passports.

With this development, the deportaion of the nine accused, who were sympathisers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, seems to have been hastened.

They are lodged in the Central Prison since January 1993 in connection with the m.v. Yahat case and later with the present case.

The police filed a petition in the court stating that the nine had to get photographed and Rs. 190 was needed for each one of them towards photograph charges and to get applications for passports. R. Srinivasa Rao, Sub-Inspector of II Town Police Station and Investigation Officer of the case, said that the applications would be received soon.

The defence counsel, K.V. Ramamurthy, said that there was no objection from the accused to get photographed or to withdraw the amount required from the money deposited by them at the time of their remand.

Full time Finance Minister needed, says Kalutara UNP MP

UNP's Kalutara district MP Mahinda Samarasinghe has asked the government to have a full-time finance minister who is able to devote all his time and powers vested in him to sort out the financial problems in Sri Lanka's economy.

This, he said, is a request made long time ago, even by the private sector and by foreign investors. Such a minister will be responsible for the Parliament. Mr. Samarasinghe added that this appointment should have been made with the last week's reshuffle of ministers.

TV shows Poosari's part in theft

Close to Belwood Rupavahini Village hostel is a Kovil where devotees of Galaha go to invoke blessings of the deitees in times when troubles overwhelm them.

And so when the hostel's TV was lost, the Galaha police was called in. They got fingerprints of the residents of the hostel and, for good measure, the poosari's, the incumbent of the Kovil.

As the hostellers themselves came under a cloud they pleaded with the poosari to plead with the deity to find the thief.

After some hesitation the poosari agreed and started praying and pleading that the TV thief be found. Just then the police swooped on the Kovil and started a search of holy precincts.

And, behold, under the altar was the TV set. The poosari was taken into custody and produced in court. Fingersprints told the tale.

OIC Galaha, IP Palihawardana led investigations.

Discussion on 'Buddhist attitude to death'

The monthly English panel discussion on the dhamma organised by the Colombo Young Men's Buddhist Association will be held from 10 a.m. to 11.15 a.m. at the library of the YMBA, Borella today.

The panel will comprise Asoka Devendra and P. Mahanama with Rajah Kuruppu as moderator. Today's discussion will be on the "Buddhist attitude to death". The next discussion has been scheduled for July 20 and those to follow will be held on the third Sunday of every month.

Ilmenite factory: 2m. tax arrears

The Kuchchaveli Pradeshiya Sabha is claiming Rs. 2.3 million from the Sri Lanka Mineral Sands Company as arrears of assessment tax. The tax has to be paid by the ilmenite factory at Pulmoddai owned by the Mineral Sands Company, said Special Commissioner P. Jegatheeswaran. He added that the rates are due from 1993 to the first quarter of 1997. The company has been given 14 days time to pay the arrears totalling Rs. 2,304,587.

The Special Commissioner is likely to discuss the matter with the company's high command in Colombo before taking further action.

Budding stars for the bard

St. Peter's College and Holy Family Convent yesterday emerged as winners in the Shakespeare Drama Competition for schools conducted by the Colombo North Rotary Club and the YMCA at the BMICH.

A special feature this years was the presence of a judge from Royal Shakespeare Theatre at the bard's birthplace of Stafford Upon Avon.

Trinity College Kandy were runners up in the boys section and Asian International School in the girls.

The best schools outside Colombo were Trinity and Girls High School Kandy.

Ishraq Wahab of St. Peter's was adjudged as the best actor and Prabhodini Munasinghe of Bishop's the best actress. Out side Colombo Dushan Rodrigo of Trinity was the best actor and Champa Ranatunga best actress.

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