|Thursday, 29 July 2004|
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The Presidential Secretariat has launched an anti-dengue campaign to prevent the spread of Dengue fever, which has reached epidemic proportion in some parts of the country. While the relevant authorities will engage themselves this week in their efforts to eradicate the mosquito menace, much has to be done on a long-term basis.
I give below ways and means of reducing common mosquito breeding places, which does not involve any expenditure.
The print media and the electronic media have given much publicity with regards to the disposal of used tyres discarded by vehicle owners. However used tyres are very useful as weights to be placed on roofs made out of metal sheets, plastic sheets or tar sheets for preventing these sheets from being blown off.
The most simple way to stop water stagnating on these tyres is to cut a large hole at one end of the outer circumference of the tyre, and the tyre should be placed in such a way that the hole is on the bottom side and at the lower end of the sloping roof.
By doing this the rainwater collected inside the tyre will drain off through this hole and remain dry, so that mosquitoes will not breed on such tyres placed on roofs.
The other common place where mosquitoes breed is in open drains and gullies.
The used and burnt engine oil that is discarded when a motor vehicle is serviced can be collected in a can and small quantities poured into the drains or gullies will remain on the top surface of the water and will not evaporate for a long time. This prevents mosquitoes breeding in such places.
I hope that the officials at the Municipal Council will spread this message to shanty dwellers and others, so that the mosquito menace could be eradicated to some extent.
S. NADARAJAH - Mount Lavinia.
Thus spake Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam
Neither time nor space has helped ease the pain, the trauma and the bitter memories of the violence of July 1983.
Ethnic discontent began manifesting itself in secessionist movements, resulting in repressive response by the State, posing serious social justice and human rights concerns.
Even when minority safeguards are written into the supreme law of the land, they are not effectively implemented.
Language rights of the minority have remained a dead letter in Sri Lanka despite these provisions having been a part of the Constitution for almost two decades.
Anyone who believes that there is short-term gain in subordinating the issues of peace and reconciliation to expediency is committing a serious error of judgement.
No other political formation has been as consistent and persistent as in our appeal to both sides to bring an end to the human suffering, the displacement, destruction and senseless loss of lives, both of the combatants and of the civilians.
UNP under the leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe lost another election since 1994, 10 of 12 elections have gone against his leadership. A party is neither united nor national.
In the past the Post of Chairman, General Secretary and Treasurer were given to eminent men of the Party of all three denominations. Making it a truly national party. Today under Mr. Wickremesinghe, it is not so.
The UNP has Company Executive and a close ally of Mr. Wickremesinghe as the Chairman.
Although his connections with the UNP is very short, the name of a public servant is being mentioned to be the new Party General Secretary.
He neither knows the policies, the members or their aspirations. His choice for the Colombo Mayoralty in 2002 has no UNP background.
Today the CMC which helped the UNP to win the election in 2002 is not only disunited but also become corrupt amongst the elected representatives and the top management.
It is better for a team of Lambs to be led by a Lion rather than a team of Lions led by a Lamb.
H. M. LEELARATNE - Nugegoda.
Are we falling into a trap?
We are a poor third world country grappling with our own internal affairs which are already phenomenal. Our priority must be to keep our police and army personnel within our own soil without sending them to face unfamiliar hostile forces overseas.
It is important to find out whether the Army and Police Chiefs consider our troops going to Haiti as a matter of prestige and honour? To the writer it seems that Sri Lanka is falling into yet another trap cooked up by the US. We really need to re-think this UN role which we are trying to take on before it is too late.
Haiti has been a sore point for the US for a long-time just like the Iraqi situation and the shrewd manner that the US justifies their actions is to involve the UN in their schemes. Right from the beginning of the Haiti issue, it was the US that attacked and interfered in their internal affairs.
We do not need international policeman to supervise the world and tell us how to govern our countries or what to do with our neighbouring countries. It was surprising when news came that the US had offered to help our troops in certain exercises in the Kukuleganga area recently. What is the need for this except that the US is looking for new ground for them to come and destabilize the region?
Asian solidarity is something they fear greatly and would do everything in their power to destabilize that. Poor countries do not need to be bullied by the developed countries.
Third world countries also have their own self-esteem and need to guard against unscrupulous foreign powers who come in with a smile to achieve their ulterior motives. Whether it be Haiti, Panama, Iraq or any other country, it is not for us as another poor nation to become a Cat's Paw of a Big Power.
The US, in order to achieve its aims has been throwing troops of poor countries into the forefront and we saw how the President of the Philippines decided to withdraw their troops from Iraq which is highly laudable. Sri Lanka must maintain her dignity, neutrality and independence.
The UN which is expected to be neutral and work for the welfare of all nations, has become a tool of the US and its manipulations, thereby losing its original credibility.
Cowboy politics of the US bullying poor nations has to be stopped. Sri Lanka certainly does not need to get carried away and get caught up in such traps from which it will be difficult to withdraw later.
Sri Lanka already has a severe dearth of manpower resources in the forces to cover our own internal security and this is not the time for us to think of engaging the little resources we have, in manning international affairs.
Our priority must be to our own country and our people. If the US wants to interfere in Haiti, let them send their own troops and handle it without Sri Lanka becoming a pawn in the process. Let us keep our personnel on our soil, for the security of our nation.
We must not destroy the image we have internationally as being a friendly country to all nations. It will be the third world countries that will show solidarity to us altruistically, whereas 'bigger powers' will always show us support with an ulterior motive.
We see that in the manner that the SLMM is operating in Sri Lanka helping to destroy the majority as against the minority!
For goodness sake, do we have any leaders in this country with genuine sincere patriotism which runs in their veins with real national feelings? Why do we need to stoop to servile depths?
RAMANI D. WICKRAMARATNE - Kotte.
It's sad but true that gazetted police officers misuse Government vehicles at the expense of the taxpayer! To some this might be stale news but the use of Government vehicles belonging to the respective police stations is on the rise.
It's true that they are given Government vehicles for their use. But at the same time, the same police officers use vehicles belonging to their place of work to carter their family, friends and relatives from place to place.
Is it surprising when the police stations don't have vehicles to do their duty when a superior officer drives off in a vehicle on a private escapade? How do you expect the lesser officers to combat crime? Are we to act oblivious to what's happening around us?
Apart from this kind of misuse there is another where the gazetted officer's sons drive these official vehicles. Isn't that the reason why they are given PCDs? Let's not even imagine that the police officer's sons are taking after the Minister's sons! I sincerely hope that the authorities would take stern action.
A. M. PEIRIS - Colombo.
Unauthorised constructions aggravates fire threats
All the newspapers published on July 17 highlighted the news item where over hundred school children have perished in a fire in South India. The tragedy was because essential safety measures were neglected.
There had been no proper exit to the school building and all students had to come out by a single door. Another aspect is that fire brigades could not approach the exact spot of fire.
I am a resident of the Anderson Golf Links National Housing Scheme. The way unauthorised walls and permanent structures have been constructed in the housing scheme during the past few years have lead to a situation, where it will be impossible for a fire brigade to approach the spot in the event of a fire.
The housing scheme comprises 21 blocks of buildings each block having forty (40) housing units i.e. in all 840 housing units. The land of the housing complex is a common element collectively owned by all the occupants.
However the ground floor occupants invariably use the land. The Common Amenities Board was responsible for the maintenance of the common elements of the housing scheme until a few years ago and things were all right.
But the government decided that the maintenance of the common elements of each block should be done by a Management Corporation formed for each block by the occupants of the respective block. Though Management Corporations were formed for all the blocks, they are not functioning efficiently in most instances due to lack of co-operation among dwellers.
In this environment, the occupants of the ground floor slowly started putting up unauthorised constructions blocking the land by permanent concrete walls. Unauthorised rooms, even toilets have been constructed.
A number of times we have brought this to the notice of the Colombo Municipal Council and letters written by us on the subject were even published in newspapers on a number of times. But nothing has happened.
In the event of a fire, in view of these unauthorised buildings and concrete walls it will be impossible for the fire brigades to approach the point of fire and there will be a total calamity as has happened in India. As in common to Sri Lanka there will be a committee after a calamity occurs but no preventive action even if repeatedly pointed out.
What is unfortunate is that if we are to get an approval to construct a building, the procedure is enormous and difficult. But unauthorised constructions can take place and the authorities will not taken any action even if pointed out or even if it is a security threat.
TILAK AMARASEKERA - Colombo 5.
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