|Friday, 12 March 2004|
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When there is a long ceasefire after a war, splits in the warring parties are inevitable. First it was a major fight between the opposition and the government which abhorred consensual policies. Then it was a Muslim political party which was fragmented. The main Tamil political alliance disintegrated with the leader correctly refusing to bow down to outsiders.
Finally a major crack has now appeared separating the Northern and Eastern provinces and two leaders represent the LTTE. The LTTE leader Karuna's charge that the Eastern Province is sacrificed to provide security to the North is correct. That has been the practice of even the founding fathers of Tamil separatism.
The split Tamil nation and homeland always favoured the barren North when all the natural resources were found in the East. It sprang from Jaffna wellala superiority as former Editor of Sunday Observer, H. L. D. Mahindapala once observed.
This is a golden opportunity for the multi-racial main political parties to define parameters of devolution once and for all without leaders beating around the bush. The President in her proposals outlined extensive devolution to the North and East. The Prime Minister is silent and his stance is not known. Meanwhile the LTTE has put forward ISGA proposals.
The political leaders should understand the main aspiration of the Tamil people. That is the Tamil language. The homeland, self determination, managing their own affairs etc. are the words that carry the underlying message of Tamil language which liberates the Hindu religion and Tamil culture. Declare Tamil as the official language of the Northern province as a generous gift to the Tamil people of Sri Lanka and let them continue to enjoy equal rights everywhere.
That is it.
There is no need to change the Constitution for that. For devolution of political power, the provincial councils requested by the LTTE and other Tamil political parties are already in place.
So why dilly dally and harass the people of Sri Lanka including the severely affected people of the North?
SUNIL J. PEIRIS,
Recently the Sunday Observer carried a very pertinent article on the lobby against ban of three wheelers to Sri lanka. Out of the three ways recommended by an environmental committee to control air pollution in the cities ban of two stroke engine powered three wheelers is one. It is shown that two stroke engines burn a very low percentage of fuel and the balance is emitted as smoke and poisonous gasses.
The article had pointedly shown the strong lobby against the ban on imports and gone to the extent of naming the Companies which have launched the lobby. It has also shown the work of the hurriedly formed Three Wheel Drivers Association (TWDA) which plays to the tune of the lobbying Companies which funded them.
Since as usual there will be no final solution to this situation, it is pertinent to find other options to minimize the pollution by three wheelers. Running Three Wheelers on LPG would definitely help minimizing pollution since there will be no emission of unburnt fuel when the fuel itself is in the gaseous stage. United Nations Global Environment Fund (GEF) has successfully launched a project in Bangladesh to convert three wheelers into LPG. Interested entrepreneurs could obtain more details from there.
It is noted that they use the small (3.2 kg) gas cylinder in the three wheeler and the three wheel operators are very happy since the cost per km is drastically reduced (according to the prices of fuel in Bangladesh). Cost reduction or not, it would be worth exploring this option.
Subsidizing the cost of conversion through Govt. subsidies or bank loans would promote the operators to go for LPG.
This is only a random thought. I suppose someone with more knowledge on the subject can enlighten me on it.
One sees the exhaust gases from the Petroleum refinery been burnt off in the air. Cannot this gas be used to burn off the garbage from the surrounding areas from Negombo to Panadura, Kotte, Peliyagoda etc. in an incinerator? The garbage could be mixed with the large amounts of saw dust, wood shavings, paddy husks, choir dust etc. and even waste oil from the numerous motor repair service stations, SLTB and railway workshops.
The heat so obtained can be used to boil water from the Kelani river to produce steam. This steam could be used to run steam turbines to produce electricity. The distilled water so produced in the process could be bottled and sold or added to the water supply mains. Six to eight or more small/medium Gas Turbines which could be easily transported to the site can be used. Not much maintenance is required for a Gas turbine. Similar Turbines could be installed in paddy producing areas, with the paddy husks as the source of fuel.
The residue ash could be used for filling low lying areas. I do not know the impact on the environment due to the gases produced by the burning of the garbage being released into the atmosphere.
If this is feasible, it will solve both the problem of garbage disposal and power shortages.
N. D. GUNARATNE,
It is really painful to see a sovereign and independent country like Iraq becoming a victim of a naked aggression. This attack was conducted by none of its neighbours but by the only superpower located thousands of miles away.
The reason behind this aggression was simple. Mr. Bush could not tolerate ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein because he had once insulted his father.
No country not even the UN came forward to condemn or even protest this aggression. If the destruction of a nation is so easy, the same will be done to Syria, Libya, Pakistan or North Korea and the whole world will be a spectator only.
This "Might is Right" theory is successful because the world is now passing through a unipolar phase. The destruction of Soviet Russia came as a blessing to the Americans.
However, I feel that we have not yet seen the end of it.
The thrashing received by the American in Vietnam, and for that matter by the Russians in Afghanistan, is still fresh in our memories. The Iraqi freedom fighters are becoming active day by day which is manifested by the coffins of the Yankees arriving at American bases every day.
What I am surprised to see is that the Arab Nations or Muslim Ummah (community) are keeping a questionable silence over this tragedy. I don't know why they have adopted such a passive stance.
A. ABDUL AZIZ,
A very high profile face lift that is being given to NSB building at Colpetty gives the impression that this building is going to be brought to the level of a tourist hotel. May be to compete with hotels like Galle Face Hotel etc.
With highly sophisticated aluminium fabrications, gilded railings, marbled outer walls etc., it can be easily assessed that expenditure will go up to several million.
Seeing this grandiose pursuit I am at a loss to understand as to what urgency is there to embark on an expensive project like this.
If any urgent repairs are needed, they could have been attended to as economically as possible, but in this instance money is being just pumped out callously only to suit the whims and fancies of some who are out to make a fast buck.
Another pertinent question that arises at this juncture is, as to what benefit the clients of NSB or the country will get in return for this expenditure?
In the first place, can we afford to heedlessly spend in this manner especially at the present time due to the financial constraints in the country.
Isn't there any authority to check on this type wasteful expenditure? This ill considerate exercise is pointing the finger in one direction: The real beneficiaries are the contractor and the go-betweens.
The Daily News of March 4 carries a notice by the Secretary to the Treasury on the subject, "Contributory pension scheme for government and Provincial Council Employees".
This reflects the concern by the government to protect a particular class of working people by introducing and implementing a pension scheme which I am sure will benefit thousands of individuals and their families. Why cannot the government, through the respective ministry or the Insurance Board of Sri Lanka initiate a similar pension scheme for the benefit of the thousands of Insurance Agents in Sri Lanka?
Insurance Agents in our island are a totally neglected class of workers who rake in millions of rupees into Insurance Companies as Insurance Premia aimed at creating imaginative but implementable and impressive schemes called as:
I feel it is the duty of the Insurance Board of Sri Lanka to intervene and implement a proper pension scheme or at least include this neglected workers into the EPF and ETF schemes.
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