|Friday, 27 February 2004|
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against the dangers of using agro-chemicals beyond safer levels. According to the news item (DN, Oct. 29), Sri Lanka has made use of 61,200 tons of pesticides in the year 2000, some of which had been banned in other countries, as injurious to health.
The positive danger is that most farmers and vegetable growers, harvest their crops, before the safe time, when the toxicity of the chemicals has not become inactive and harmless.
Pesticides and other agro-chemicals are linked with cancer which is legion.
It is said that some of the dangerous pesticide residues, such as Dioxin, Atrazine, Simazine, Chlordane, Heptachlor etc., are carcinogenic in their toxicity, and are found in most vegetables and fruits. Therefore, eating vegetables too runs the risk of being harmful to health.
Let us look at how safe meat is. The American surgeon and founder of the Battle Creek Sanatorium, Dr. John H. Kellogg (1852-1943), says "A dead cow, lying in a pasture, is recognised as a carrion.
The same sort of carcass, dressed and hung up in a butcher's stall, passes as food. Careful microscopic examination may show little or no difference between the fence corner carcass and the butcher's shop carcass. Both are swarming with colon germs and redolent with putrefaction".
The indiscriminate use of agro-chemicals and harvesting the crops before they are safe for human consumption, run the risks of chemical poisoning, before it becomes detoxified with time.
I am a regular reader of your publications for over 50 years. I felt it my bounden duty to express my deep concern and disappointment in the matter mentioned below.
On Feb. 16 (16/2/2004) in a political programme over a private TV in which a former Minister of the last Government, a lawyer and two others participated, including Mr. Vasudeva Nanayakkara, certain views were expressed. Mr. Nanayakkara in his reference to the present incumbent of the Highest Tribunal of the land used vituperative and derogatory language, thus bringing the entire Judiciary into disrepute.
All my efforts to correct him over the telephone, (the contact number given by the moderator), were of no avail as this "number" continued to be 'engaged' all the time.
Hence, as an officer, who served with commitment and devotion for over 40 years in the public service in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court (for a considerable period under the present incumbent of the Supreme Court at various stages with the highest regard and praise) felt it as a bounden duty to make an effort to safeguard this Institution by correcting the record. I trust all sane citizens will agree with me.
I was much perturbed that a senior lawyer of such standing should make irresponsible utterances repeatedly, accusing the Judiciary thus making the lay public ponder and entertain doubt and misconceptions whether, in fact, the Judiciary is impartial, a very dangerous trend indeed.
What Mr. N. fails to understand or perhaps don't want to understand and what the general lay public should know is that a judgment of the highest Tribunal of the land is not the judgment of one, but the collective and considered judgement of all participating Judges, who tender their signature to the final judgment.
This has been the practice. Grave insults to the Judiciary should not be allowed to be hurled repeatedly, as inaction to stop them can have adverse repercussions in the minds of the public as to whether there is some truth in such utterances.
In my view, this type of conduct should not be condoned, especially when senior members of the Bar are involved.
Early action by those in authority will avert a possible disaster.
J. S. DE S. PINNADUWAGE -
Since February 2003 it is now more than a year the Bribery and corruption Commission has been inoperative when one of the Commissioner's died and according to the Law, requires that the vacancy is filled only by a retired Supreme Court or Appeal Court Judge, and the Commission cannot function unless all three Commissioners sit.
This is a very vital piece of legislation which the whole country was clamouring in the past several decades and now it appears to have come to a standstill.
The Government and the Opposition should have given all support and more teeth to the commissioners and appointed the other member for the vacancy that existed immediately, provide more investigating officers to the Commission to clear the backlog and allow the Commission to function independently without any obstruction.
In the coming General Election on April 2, 2004 an assurance must be given to the people in their manifestos that whichever party comes to power that they will reactivate the Bribery and Corruption Commission within a month, if ever our country has to move forward with good governance and transparency.
All what the people want is peace and stability in the country.
F. A. Rodrigo Sathianathen -
The implementation of the calling party pays system from March 1, 2004 could be a serious blow for the communication industry and as well as to the subscribers, specially for the Fixed Line Operators. Due to the reason that a subscriber of FLO have to bear the high call cost may resort to decline calling cellular phones in future unless otherwise a grave necessity arises.
The FLOs could expect a 60-80 per cent outward cellular line call drop from March 1. Even at present, a 30 seconds peak hour call to a cellular phone is considered for one unit consumption and charged accordingly.
The FLOs are already determined as to how a cellular call initiated by a fixed line subscriber be calculated for the purpose of billing and this is very exorbitant.
Presently, the call charges are very high in Sri Lanka than other countries of South Asia and its 300 per cent high considering the charges levied in India.
Already 70-80 per cent of cellular phone subscribers of major networks are enjoying free incoming calls ranging from 1 to 5 minutes and nearly 80 per cent of subscribers of the recently launched GSM network enjoys total incoming free facility.
If the CPP is implemented from March 1, a subscriber of FLO who calls these lines, too, will be compelled to pay though recipient enjoys free incoming. I am wondering as to whether the Telecommunication Regulatory Committee of Sri Lanka is in existence for the benefit of the public or to protect and nourish the telecommunication companies.
My suspicion for this was precisely proved very recently when the TRCSL intervened and enhanced the call rate to Rs. 1.50 per minute though the recently launched GSM network offered calls to their subscribers at 0.50 cts per minute from their network to any 3 numbers of theirs and 1 fixed number of different network.
So in the name of public interest will the TRCSL abolish this CPP menace and let the GSM/Cellular network providers to choose what the facility that will be extended to their respective customers whether Caller Party Pays or the Receiving Party Bears system.
The network that provide incoming free will be able to consolidate and uplift their customer base further and this will make the communication industry to be more competitive than before which in turn will pass the benefit on to the general public.
Hope the bureaucrats in communication give due consideration to the existing subscribers of GSM/Cellular networks who enjoys free incoming calls already or the subscribers may feel that they were taken for a ride by their respective networks promising incoming free scheme.
R. ABDUL RAHUMAN -
Dr. U. Pethiyagoda, Immediate Past President of the National Academy of Sciences, Sri Lanka (NASSL) and former Ambassador to Italy, in his article "Development sans Science" (DN Feb. 18) is saddened by the absence of response to NASSL's offer of their scientific expertise for national development.
"Ask and ye shall (Not) receive!" The same goes for the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS) which has Science & Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) waiting to help - but no one asks.
What about the horde of retired or otherwise unemployed experts waiting with rusting skills to be asked? Should they go the way of AFICS (Association of Former International Civil Servants) who also had got no response to similar offers, and who had then decided to go their own way with (as Dr. Pethiyagoda says) "fellowship, regular dinners and occasional excursions"? Or the way of OPA (Organization of Professional Associations) which gives unasked-for advice to the government all the time.
The good scientists that they are; NASSL must have asked themselves why they are not being asked. They must have found in their list of answers that lack of money is the root of the evil.
"The total grant for the Scientific Associations in our country for 2004 was one Million," of which NASSL got some Rs. 150,000 "less than what it takes to host a single visiting scientist for a week". If they ask, they are sure to get money from the agents of alcohol and tobacco or even oil.
Symphony Orchestras and Philharmonic Choirs in Lanka have got such money, and doctors go to the drug merchants. But NASSL is nobly upright.
V. Basnayake -
Recently two of my business associates (one an Indian, Assistant General Manager of a reputed steel manufacturing company in India) and I were the victims of an unwarranted humiliation at a restaurant in Colombo. We visited this restaurant with the idea of enjoying a delicious meal in a congenial atmosphere. But our vision of a pleasant night out was transformed into a nightmare.
When the three of us entered this restaurant we were given three token cards and were advised to have them punched whenever we purchased any food/beverage items. Accordingly we helped ourselves to the food items of our choice and got the cards punched as instructed.
However when we came to pay our bill, to our amazement and exasperation, the manager together with a cashier accused us of presenting an invalid card. We could not comprehend as to what they were talking about. To our embarrassment they rather obnoxiously asked us to examine our pockets and check whether another invalid card was in our possession.
I vehemently protested that we never possessed such a card and only the cards that were issued to us at the entrance, duly punched, were presented by us for payment. But the said personnel were adamant that one of us was in having another invalid card which we were clueless about. Eventually when we checked our bill we found it to be in order.
Then the Manager discerned that it was a mistake on their part and he let us go, without even an apology.
H. AZHAR -
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