|Thursday, 11 September 2003|
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We are moving from subsistence agriculture to modern commercial agriculture, but very much behind countries like India and Thailand. The fast changing aspect is rainfed to irrigated crop production where quality and quantity of the produce could be increased especially in fruits and vegetables. Large extents of coconut also go under drip irrigation to increase the production.
The growers also shifting from fuel pumps to electrical pumps to irrigate their crops because of easy operation and maintenance. The CEB tariff applied for industries is Rs. 8.25 and for commercial purposes it is Rs. 12 per unit all-inclusive. The electricity used for farming also charged at the commercial rate assuming that farming is not an industry.
This high tariff raises the cost of production and hence we cannot compete with the countries like India in the international market (even local) where the farmers get free electricity.
It is a well-known fact that the lowest return to investment is received by the agricultural sector when compared to industrial and services sectors.
What the enterprising farmer needs is a separate tariff for agriculture, which is less than the other two sectors.
The Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Power and Energy should consider this matter for the benefit of the farmers and to uplift the agricultural sector in the era of "Reawakening of Sri Lanka."
CHANDRASIRI NANAYAKKARA, Kuliyapitiya
With reference to the two letters regarding the above subject on 22nd August and 4th September by Gen. Cyril Ranatunge and Walter Rupasinghe respectively, may I add a bit more "confusion" to the issue by stating that the second International Airport must be in Puttalam and not at Hingurakgoda or in Matugama.
I agree with the view that there must be a second runway in Katunayake, purely because of the reason that 360 days a year or more there is good weather or weather that will clear in half an hour to forty-five minutes, over the airfield.
The only eventuality that has to be catered for is a blockage of the single runway due to a mechanical failure of an aircraft or an accident/ incident, which makes the runway unusable. As the General has stated, with a second runway, airlines need not bring extra fuel to divert to Chennai (Madras), Trivandram or Cochin. The saving in fuel may be translated into commercial load.
As for the weather patterns, be it the Southwest or the Northeast Monsoon, Hingurakgoda will be affected. All airline pilots know this.
So it is not an ideal location for a bad weather alternate. On the other hand, Puttalam, which is in the dry zone, does not get affected by Monsoonal weather.
Let us not forget that Puttalam airfield was built by the British even before World War II as an emergency airfield for the Air Mail airplanes to land in case of bad weather at Ratmalana or Tiruchinapoly, amongst other contingencies.
So should Hingurakgoda be developed? The answer is certainly yes. It does not need major works to be developed into a mini airport to cater for commercial traffic. The Sri Lanka Air Force is already using the runway. With effective improvements by our own engineers and construction workers it can be made a suitable airport. One does not need foreign experts for that! The location of the second international airport is another story.
It is granted that Puttalam may not have the needed infrastructure. Neither have the other two locations.
There is room for development. The proposed Colombo-Katunayake Highway could also be extended to link up with Puttalam in due course.
Sri Lanka should have been developed into an important hub many years ago. With the advent of long-range aircraft such as the A 340 that was introduced almost ten years ago, Sri Lanka should have got their act together. By now we should have had an ultra modern International Airport. Too little is being done too late! The experienced professionals in aviation, such as Airline pilots have been marginalized, ignored or forgotten.
It is a sad fact that the "end users" are not consulted for important decisions such as this. One of the reasons that SriLankan Airlines' Pilots do not communicate their views in public is because their terms and conditions of employment preclude them from commenting on any matters connected with the airline or aviation that is counter productive. I am a Sri Lankan pilot working for a far eastern carrier and therefore not bound by local terms!
CAPT. GIHAN FERNANDO, Colombo 7
There had been a few letters on this subject also highlighting the experiences in other countries. There are pros and cons to flexi hours.
However, we ought to remember that Sri Lanka is unique. Flexi hours has much to do with honesty, integrity and self conscious of the employee.
There are other practical problems as well. For instance, in an office where 25 are working and the normal working hours are from 08:00am to 04:00pm, if 5 opts to report at 08:30am and another 5 at 09:00am and another 2 at 10:00, it becomes very difficult for the superior to keep a tag of the times each one has to report and draw the 'Red Line' and at the end of the month to determine the number of late arrivals of each person.
One might suggest installing a Punch Card System or even a more modern system. I do not intend taking space in this letter to elaborate the problems in each of these systems.
Let us look at another aspect. Say for example, the person who is supposed to collect the letters and enter the letter book opts to report at 10 am. The work flow of the unit will be delayed by 2 hours because others are now getting the letters received 2 hours later. Let's assume that the same person is responsible for sending the letters out.
He has to send the registered letters by 03:00 p.m. which is same time whether he reports at 08:00 or 10:00 because the Postal Dept has their own cut off times. He also has to send the other letters by 04:30 pm which is again the cut-off time at the Postal Dept.
So, he has 30 minutes more in his hand to send the letters because his working hours would end not at 04:00 pm but at 06:00pm. But there is no one to take the mail bag to the post office at that time as the messengers duty hours has already ended at 04:00 pm. Therefore either he has to send the mail at the usual time or keep them till next day. We will assume that he sends the mail at the usual time. Now what is he going to do from 04:00 to 06:00 pm.
He is the only person working in the office. Who would supervise him? On the other hand, the watcher who was earlier off duty at 04:00 pm but takes another 00:30 minutes to close and lock up the office and handover the keys to the Police Station (as is normally done), now have to wait till 06:00 p.m. and for this he has to be paid over time.
Let's look at another situation. A person (customer) comes all the way from Monaragala in the night bus to get some work done and return as early as possible. When he comes to this office at 08:15 a.m. he is told that he has to wait until the Subject clerk arrives at 10:00 a.m. Now, the clerk arrives at 10:30 a.m. taking the privilege of arriving 00:30 minutes late and then goes for his morning breakfast but realizing that there are people waiting for him, has a quick breakfast and returns at 10:55am.
What would be the plight of our Monaragala friend? So, the flexi hours; it is easier said than done. It cannot be practically implemented in most of the offices. It is workable in piece rate work environments and in few other specific areas.
There are countries where employees are even allowed to work at home. By doing this, the employer saves on office space, Insurance, cost of furniture etc etc. But to make this system a success, the employer has to have a method of monitoring and/or has to rely on the honesty and integrity of the employee. Unfortunately, both these are hard to find in Sri Lanka in the present times.
One of the major reasons for the administration to fail in our country is the lack of control. The law and order has diminished and bribery, corruption and thuggery has become the order of the day to such an extent, that officers who try to bring about controls ultimately get harassed, humiliated, victimized or even killed.
Therefore until we are able to establish law and order in this country and bring to book all offenders irrespective of their status, or uplift the spiritual state of people, we could only expect more confusion and chaos.
GAMINI HETTITHANTHIRI, Nugegoda.
Apropos the ongoing fascinating debate about Polygamy and Polyandry. Both these systems, though practiced by (some) human beings under different pretexts, rightly belong to the animal kingdom. They are entirely unsuited to the constitution of civilized human beings.
Having half a dozen wives of varying temperaments and constitutions is one thing, but being able to fulfill their marital (not material) desires on a mutually satisfying basis is another. A woman does not get married for mere legal recognition and material comforts only, which are incidental, but by no means the principal factor in a marriage.
Even if a man was Man enough to please his several wives according to their wants and wishes, it will be well neigh impossible for them to be kept cool under one roof without letting them tug at each others hair (kes-walla) who could get infuriated under the slightest provocation. If more than one woman can share a man and yet live in the same house in unity, absolute peace and in perfect harmony, that will be wonder of the world!
Polygamy and Polyandry, like lesbianism and sodomy, are unacceptable in the civilized society. Draping polygamy in regal robes to lend it some respectability is to expose one's ignorance of and disregard to accepted and established social and moral values among civilized human beings.
What one should strive for is to strictly maintain the dividing between the man and the beast by keeping the beast in man at bay!!
C. B. P., Panadura
just bad manners
Good social conduct requires consideration for the peace and quiet of others. It is mindful of the feelings of fellow citizens. It is loving kindness towards all beings. We should not even need laws and regulations if people behave decently in their homes, their neighbourhoods, places of worship and commercial establishments.
I was very pleased to read about the imposition of stricter laws against noise pollution recently, being a victim for many long years of noise pollution in my immediate neighbourhood.
My problems are common to all those living in crowded neighbourhoods, and here is a bit of good advice:
* Stop blaring car horns to alert servants to open gates. Get out of your vehicle and ring the gate bell.
* Make funerals short and snappy; better still use Funeral Parlours if here is a chance you will disturb your neighbours.
* Disco Parties are totally prohibited, if one interprets the law properly.
* Do not knock on anyone's gate to ask for directions.
* Mark your house number clearly on your gate.
* When ordering Radio Cabs, give a clear description of your house and its location (I cannot tell you how many times I have been disturbed for directions because mine is the only house in this complex with name and number on the gate)
* Do not allow Kottu Roti or Kola Kenda men to set up stalls in the vicinity of your home. All the thugs will also gather there.
* Do not play your stereo at high volume. We do not want to listen to your choice of music.
* Do not use electric drills, break coconuts, etc. before 7.30 a.m. between 12.30 p.m. and 3.30 p.m. and after 6.00 p.m. These are quiet periods. People meditate, pray, sleep, nap, read, and rest.
In conclusion, laws are made not to be broken. The Police being law-enforcers should take decisive, prompt action to implement laws and regulations.
When a person calls to complain about noise pollution do not ask the person to call over at the Police Station to make a recorded complaint. It is not necessary. A verified phone complaint should suffice. In the case of a second warning, stern action such as confiscation of, say, stereo equipment should take place. Also, the Police should not favour the offender by abusing the complainant, as is the common practice in this country.
Implement the laws of the country promptly and efficiently.
This will in time diminish the reckless disregard of the law and improve lawlessness. We will, hopefully, grow to be a just and decent society.
LINDA VAN SCHAGEN, Mount Lavinia
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