22nd June 1997


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Expressway gets bumpy again

By Kshalini Nonis

The proposed Colombo-Katunayake expressway has taken a new turn, with environmentalists claiming the authorities have chosen a more expensive route, than the one found in the Muthurajawela master plan.

According to experts, environmentalists, the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the new expressway has yet not been made public but it is learnt the route will affect the Muthurajawela sanctuary and part of the Negombo lagoon. An environmentalist said they would oppose any route that would cause damage to the natural balance in the area.

The Road Development Authority’s General Manager, P.B.L. Cooray told The Sunday Times the EIA was being finalised and would be made public within a fortnight. He said the expressway, to be constructed on a “build operate and transfer” basis would run through a marshland and along the borders of the Negombo Lagoon, with minimal disruption to the lives of the residents in the area. He assured the residents would be given adequate compensation while the Muthurajawela sanctuary would not be affected.

But residents of the areas on the proposed route who have formed an association and held a meeting yesterday to air their grievances.

A spokesman for the residents said they would meet the authorities and put forward alternative proposals that would cause less damage to houses and property.

He said the proposed route would severely affect residents especially in Wanawasala, Wattala and Mabole.

Proposals for a second Colombo-Katunayake highway have been on the drawing boards for upto a decade now.

‘Why too many TV channels?’

The new Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s decision to approve eight new television stations and five broadcasting stations was received with mixed feelings by radio and TV buffs.

Some asked why so many when the channels we have are unable to upgrade their programmes. Some spoke against TV because it corrupts youth.

Good or bad, Lanka will have the stations, more the merrier, they said.

The institutions that have been given approval are:

Television stations: Maharaja Organisation Ltd., Telshan Network (PVT) Ltd., East West Information Ltd., I.W.S. Holdings Co. Ltd., Asia Broadcasting Corporation (Pvt) Ltd., Nawala TV and Radio Network, Grant Communication (Pvt) Ltd., The Southern Development Authority of Sri Lanka.

Radio stations: Colombo Communications (Pvt) Ltd., Maharaja Organisation Ltd., Telshan Network (Pvt) Ltd., Asia Broadcasting Corporation (Pvt) Ltd. and TV and Radio Network.

Dutch courage averts calamity

By Chamintha Tilekeratne

An urgent salvage operation has prevented a major oil slick that could have caused an environmental disaster around the Trincomalee harbour, an official said.

Marine Pollution Prevention Authority Chairman Dhanapala Weerasekera said a Greek Ship M.V Athena which was attacked by the LTTE earlier this month faced the dilemma of having to discharge thousands of tons of oil and contaminated water. This could have had serious effects on the rich and diverse marine life around Trinco and on hundreds of fishermen in the area.

But in response to an SOS a Dutch salvage company had moved into save the ship without having to discharge the pollutants.

Mr. Weerasekera said the cost of the salvage operation would be met by Lloyds Insurance.

WB backs drastic revamping of education

Sri Lanka’s main donor agency has thrown its weight behind proposals made by the National Education Commission for irrelevant subjects to be scrapped for education to be made job-oriented.

Any reform and development of the higher education sector in Sri Lanka will require fundamental changes in methods and attitudes at all levels and it must address the basic issue of access, efficiency, quality and above all relevance, the World Bank has said.

In a review of education policy, the World Bank in a report says the relevance of courses followed and the quality of the education must be assessed by the ability of the student to make practical use of the knowledge. “However, the quality in education is measured in terms of the output including the knowledge students have acquired and their capability: what they have learned and are able to contribute to their own and to society’s general well-being,” it states.

At present a majority of the 50 subjects at the G.C E. A/L are irrelevant for university education while most of the 60 subjects at the O/Level are irrelevant to the A/L, the report adds.

According to the report, a majority of students offer arts or commerce subjects at the A/L and as a result they offer languages, history or subjects on that line at the university. For such students, apart from teaching or similar profession there are only a few openings. The number of arts students who enter the universities are much higher than those from commerce or science subjects.

This is one of the main reasons for unemployment in Sri Lanka today. The proposals made by the National Education Commission to the President and the Education Minister thus aim at introducing more practical university, A/L and O/L courses.

North east the odd province out

The implementation of the proposed zonal administrative re-organisation of education in the north-east province with effect from July 1 has been postponed indefinitely for want of enough SLEAS officers.

There is also no consensus among north-east MPs in regard to the newly carved out educational zones in the province, provincial education ministry sources said. In the other provinces the reforms have been carried out.

The Minister of Education and Higher Education Richard Pathirana is likely to summon a conference of MPs representing the north-east province shortly, to find a solution.

Education Ministry sources said the ministry needed 565 Sri Lankan Education Administrative Service officers to implement the new zonal re-organisation scheme. At present about 100 SLEAS officers Class II and Class III were available while not a single SLEAS officers of Class I was in the north-east province Until these two problems are solved, the implementation of the proposed zonal re-organisation scheme has been postponed.

Penal rent violates my rights- ex-DIG

The Supreme Court has granted leave to proceed in a fundamental rights plea filed by former DIG Sumith M.P. Liyanage who claims that his rights have been violated as a penal rent has been imposed on him for over occupying the official quarters.

The petition was taken up before a bench comprising Justices S.W.D. Wadugodapitiya, Mark Fernando and Priyantha Fernando.

Plea supported by counsel Maj. Rohana Jayawardene, has cited IGP W.B. Rajaguru, Senior DIGs S.P. Dharmadasa Silva, M.M. Gunaratne, SSP N.K. Ilangakoon, Police Chief Accountant D. Weerasuriya and Attorney General as the first to sixth respondents respectively.

The petitioner has stated that when he was Commandant of the Home Guard Service in Colombo, he was allotted official quarters at Kew Road Flats in Slave Island and he was suddenly transferred as DIG North Central on 01.02.1995 and the then IGP permitted him to continue in occupation at Kew Road with petitioner’s family.

The application states that the second respondent informed the petitioner through third respondent to vacate the quarters and the petitioner requested permission to continue in occupation of the said quarters until retirement.

The petitioner informed the second respondent why he was continuing in occupation of the quarters and drew his attention to the requirement of giving a two months notice as per the Government Quarters Act and requested permission to continue in occupation until retirement.

The second respondent did not respond instead gave instructions to the fourth and fifth respondents to make penal deductions. The petitioner in a letter to the first respondent protested against the order made for the penal deduction and requested that no penal deductions be made.

The fourth respondent by letter of 10.07.1996 informed the petitioner that Rs. 2,000 was deducted from petitioner’s salary, stated in the application.

The petitioner states that he would face unbearable financial hardship if the said penal deduction of Rs. 235,616 is made from his meagre pension of about Rs. 7,000 while quoting that there were a number of police officers who continued to occupy the government quarters in the non-operational areas after they were transferred to operational areas but no penal rent was recovered from them.

No clemency for old pervert

An old German has been jailed for two years for sexually abusing children in the south.

The sentence was handed down by the Balapitiya magistrate on the 68 year old German Gunther Platzdacsh after a trial that lasted more than two years.

He was the first German to be convicted here on child abuse charges in the wake of media exposures during the past year of a major scandal with international ramifications. Recently a Swiss national was also jailed by a court in Kesbewa while another Swiss national was deported to his country to face child abuse charges.

Lawyers for the German national pleaded for the suspension of the jail term on the basis he was old and ailing, but the magistrate refused. Lawyer R. Tiranagama of PEACE watched the interests of the abused children.

Actor key player in night of gold

RexSinhala film actor Rex Kodippily, well known for his roles as a villain or a police officer, was nabbed at the Colombo Airport on Friday night while trying to smuggle in gold biscuits to the value of five million rupees, customs officials said yesterday.

They said the actor returning from Singapore had hidden the gold biscuit in a belt that was concealed in his bag.

From the airport, customs officials went to the actor’s residence at Boralesgamuwa for a another search but they declined to give further details.

A businessman, believed to be connected to the actor, was also arrested after he came on the same flight. Customs officials said the businessman was on bail in a case relating to charges of smuggling gold.

Mr. Koddippily was imposed a fine of Rs. 10 million which he failed to pay yesterday. He has been remanded for further questioning.

Customs also nabbed another businessman who came on an AirLanka flight also on Friday, when he tried to smuggle in gold biscuits to the value of Rs. 800,000. He paid the fine to cap what customs sources described as a golden night from a golden flight.

Curtailed water supply till June 30

Rain or no rain, water in the Greater Colombo area will be curtailed from June 23 to 30 to effect repairs at the Ambatale main pumping station, according to vice chairman National Water and Drainage Board, R.M.T.W. Wijayatilleka.

He told The Sunday Times that major repairs had been undertaken after 35 years.

For the reconstruction work they had to close down certain sections of the mains.

As a result, there will be less pressure in certain areas, thereby the normal supply will be curtailed.

People in the Greater Colombo areas are advised to store water for their consumption when there is a supply, until normal supply is restored by June 30, he said. Last Thursday a large pipeline supplying water to the Colombo South area exploded cutting off water supplies to residents for more than 24 hours.

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