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Sethusamudram: Karunanidhi blames religious leaders

May 6 (PTI) With the Sethusamudram project facing some rough weather on the religious front, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Mr M Karunanidhi today charged that religious leaders from the North were trying to stop the project as they had some vested interest in doing so. Replying to a issue raised in the Assembly by the CPI-M member Mr Govindasamy who wanted the project to be implemented as planned which was objected to by the AIADMK leader Mr O Pannerselvam, more..

Jordanian Airlines stands by Sri Lanka

May 6 (AT) While some airlines have decided to pull out from Sri Lanka due to the crisis situation, at this moment of distress and uncertainty, at least there is one airline that has reiterated their strong commitment to Sri Lanka, and firmly assured that they will continue as they have done for the last 15 years. Hussein Dabbas, Vice President, Marketing, Sales and Services, Royal Jordanian Airlines said that they are committed to the Sri Lankan market and plans to increase our operations by the end of this year. more..

Armed police ruin cup celebrations for Aussies

May 6 (SH) Triumphant captain Ricky Ponting was allegedly "shouldered" by a Barbados police officer as the Australians celebrated their World Cup victory on Kensington Oval. A week after the Australians created history by winning their third consecutive World Cup, details have emerged of the drama when the squad tried to perform their victory song a few hours after their 53-run win over Sri Lanka. more..

Civilians killed in Sri Lanka as rebel movement thwarted

May 6 (Xinhua) The Sri Lankan Navy said Saturday that at least two fishermen were killed and three others injured while the Navy thwarted an attempted sea movement by Tamil Tiger rebels in the eastern seas. Navy spokesman Commander D. K. P. Dassanayake said LTTE rebels shot dead the two fishermen at Thiriyaya area in the eastern Trincomalee district in a clash with the Navy's ground troops in the early hours of Saturday. more..

Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict will continue: expert

May 6 (Hindu) The conflict between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE will continue in the foreseeable future, according to V.R. Raghavan, president of the Centre for Security Analysis. "We [India] do not want it to continue but we cannot force it to end," he said. It was not in India's interests to have a separate nation for the Tamils. "India does not want to see Sri Lanka in two parts. The territorial integrity of Sri Lanka is also our requirement. We will do anything to help Sri Lanka remain one," more..

In Pictures: Aftermath of Colombo wet weather

May 6 (TW) Two days of thunder showers forced several thousands to seek refuge in schools and temples.121,375 people are homeless,15 died,14 injured, 280 houses are completely destroyed,1,266 houses are slightly damaged according to the National Disaster Management Centre in Colombo. Colombo, Gampaha, Galle and Kalutara have been affected by the recent rain. The displaced people are staying in 30 welfare camps. more..

SLFP devolution, testing waters or dipping south?

May 6 (TW) It has been a busy week, politically speaking. The freakish rain in Barbados and Adam Gilchrist’s born again (with squash-ball grip) performance torpedoed whatever political mileage that the government was planning to take out of the World Cup. But our cricketers did themselves and the country proud. After Mahela Jayawardena’s pristine century and his team’s composed victory against the Kiwis in Jamaica, Sangakara and Jayasuriya gave the mighty Aussies bloody jitters more..

Tamil party in government emphasizes Tamil aspirations as the only solution

May 6 (AT) Responding to the proposals put forward by the SLFP, the ruling party, Eelam Peoples Democratic Party, which is a member of the government, has said that the only solution to the political crisis of the nation would be an arrangement that could fulfill the aspirations of the Tamils. There are moves afoot now to find ways and means to bring about an acceptable constitutional proposal. more..

The SLFP’s Kamikaze Proposals

May 6 (AT) Is it a monumental failure of commonsense, reason and intelligence? Is it a ploy to undermine the APC and avoid any confrontation with Sinhala hardliners? Is it a step forward in a revanchist agenda to revoke some of the key concessions made to Tamils via the Indo-Lanka Accord? What made President Rajapakse think that the Tamils could be satisfied with less devolution than they were granted under the 13th Amendment? more..

Tigers moving to reintroduce TTN program surreptiously

May 6 (AT) After Tamil Television Networks (TTN) TV channel was closed down in Paris, the Tigers are planning to introduce TTN Channel contents, including news and views to promote terrorism, in their supplementary free channel Mathuram. They have already started this second channel called Mathuram from 14 April on the Buddhist-Hindu New Year day. more..

Attempted rebel sky attacks make Investors jittery

May 6 (AT) The HNB Stockbrokers in their weekly review of the Stock Market indicated that both the market indices continued its negative trend throughout the week. The week started on a negative note, with investor confidence been tested over the weekend after two LTTE planes were witnessed flying over the skies of Colombo in early hours of Sunday for the second time within a period of just over one month. more..

Central Bank of Sri Lanka's core objectives of economic and price stability

May 6 (LBO) An amendment effected to the Monetary Law Act in 2002 requires the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to pursue ‘economic and price stability’ as one of the two core objectives of the Bank. This is somewhat a departure from the central banks in the rest of the world which have been mandated to attain only ‘price stability’. more..

Profit warning on Sri Lankan Airlines by Emirates

May 6 (LBO) Emirates, which owns 40 percent of SriLankan Airlines has warned its main shareholder, the Dubai government, that profits of the South Asian associate will fall in 2007. "SriLankan faces another difficult year ahead and unless a solution is found to the ongoing security situation, there may not be a significant improvement in visitor arrivals to Sri Lanka, which will impact negatively on yields and airline profitability," more..

SLFP proposals, an outrageous offer, says Edirisinha

May 6 (TN) Deriding the claim that the SLFP proposals pave the way for a "lasting and honourable solution to the ethnic issue," Dr.Rohan Edirisinha, head of the Legal and Constitutional Unit of the Colombo-based think-tank Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), says in an opinion column in Saturday issue of daily mirror that the proposals go back to the failed district council proposals of the 1980s and more..

Swiss Tamil children hone language, religion skills

May 6 (TN) 3858 Tamil children sat for proficiency tests in Tamil and religion in forty two test centers in 17 of the 23 cantons in Switzerland Saturday conducted by the Swiss Tamil Educational Service (TES), a volunteer organization administered by expatriate Tamils, sources in Switzerland said. The examinations are being conducted for the 13th consecutive year, according to TES officials. more..

380ha of flood retention areas reduced to 266ha

May 6 (GDI) In the aftermath of last week's floods, which brought death and destruction in the Western Province, immediate measures to prevent further floods will be taken by state institutions. The Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation (SLRDC) has found that the main causes for floods are blocked drains and canals, unauthorised constructions and the century-old drainage system in the Colombo city, which fails to absorb the present high volume of water, or carry the water to the sea. more..

How far has the gun taken the Tamils of Sri Lanka?

May 6 (ISL) Today the debate continues on whether the Tamils made the right move of picking up arms after all other non-violent methods of voicing their grievances failed. Like the African American civil rights leader booker T. Washington proposed to his people, should the Tamils of Sri Lanka persevered through discrimination as means of combating racism in the long run rather than picking up the gun? more..

Thamilselvan to address British MPs

May 6 (LNP) In an unprecedented gesture, British ruling Labour Party MP Keith Vaz last week said that the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG) had agreed to invite Leader of LTTE`s Political Wing S.P. Thamilselvan to visit Britain and address parliamentarians. At a debate on the conflict in Sri Lanka, in the British House of Commons, last week, Vaz said that Thamilselvan had been invited to attend parliament to obtain his views on the ethnic conflict. more..

JHU wants time to study SLFP proposals

May 6 (LNP) The JHU, a strong ally of the government said yesterday that it would not take any hasty decisions to withdraw from the government but will take time to study the proposals submitted by the SLFP to the All Party Representative Committee. The clash between the government and the JHU erupted over the SLFP proposals, which the JHU claims that the SLFP fails to give due recognition to Buddhism and its failure to maintain the unitary status of the country. more..

Mangala`s return to the fold likely in the short term

May 6 (LNP) Mr. Mangala Samaraweera is expected to return to the cabinet in the short term with many of the matters in dispute between himself and the president now in the process of being sorted out, well informed governmental sources said yesterday. Western Province Governor Alavi Mowlana who played a major role in mediating on this dispute said that `the situation has been defused,` and Samaraweera, who met the president a few days ago, will have another meeting with Rajapakse. more..

Mahinda invites cricket team for tea

May 6 (LNP) Mahela Jayawardene`s 2007 World Cup runner- up team has been invited by Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse for tea on Wednesday (9), according to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) President Jayantha Dharmadasa. He further said: `The President was keen to host a dinner for the heroes but since a few team members are preparing to leave for their county assignments in England, they have been invited at the President House on 9th May for tea.` more..

Sri Lanka foreign policy think tank to focus on counter-terrorism

May 6 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s foreign minister has revamped the management of a key foreign affairs think tank meant to serve as a link between strategy and decision making, with a key focus on counter-terrorism. The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies should focus on spheres of national interest, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the ministry. more..

'We have to work hard to compete with Australia'

May 6 (CI) Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, has said that other teams, including Sri Lanka, are not strong enough to beat Australia and have a lot of work to do to compete with the World Champions. Sri Lanka finished runners-up in the 2007 World Cup, losing the final against Australia by the D-L method. "The Australians have the talent and ability to identify roles for individual players who can step into the plate most of the time," said Jayawardene. more..

Political instability worries Sri Lankan board

May 6 (CI) Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has expressed grave concern over future cricket tours to Sri Lanka following the British government's decision to warn its nationals to avoid travelling to that region following the recent air raids to Colombo by a militant rebel group. K Mathivanan, the SLC secretary, said that the serious situation in the country at present was not encouraging especially with England scheduled to visit later this year. more..

Tissera quits as Sri Lanka manager

May 6 (CI) Michael Tissera, the manager of the Sri Lankan team, has requested Sri Lanka Cricket not to consider him for any appointments after his contract expires at the end of May. Tissera's last assignment will be Sri Lanka's three-ODI series against Pakistan between May 18 and 22. "I think two years is enough in one post. Travelling has got a bit hectic and I need to settle down with my family and business," said Tissera, more..

Sangakkara, Vaas and Murali to miss Abu Dhabi series

May 6 (CI) The three-match one-day international series between Sri Lanka and Pakistan will take place in Abu Dhabi between May 18 and 22. Sri Lanka, however, will be missing Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas and Kumar Sangakkara who have county commitments in England. K Mathivanan, the Sri Lanka Cricket secretary, said he had received confirmation that the series would be played from May 18-22 and that Sri Lanka would receive US$ 750,000 as participation fees more..

STF sets up 21 new bases in East to protect civilians from LTTE

May 6 (PISL) Commandant of the Special Task Force (STF), DIG Nimal Lewke toured the Eastern province during the last few days to review the security situation there. The elite STF troops has been tasked with the responsibility of providing security to the area so that people could live peacefully without being in fear of harassment and their children being forcibly conscripted by the LTTE. The DIG has personally supervised the establishment of twenty one (21) STF bases for this task. more..

President seeks India’s support

May 6 (SAMN) Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga has flown to New Delhi with a special message from President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Government sources remained tight-lipped over its exact contents, but reliable sources said the message includes steps taken by the President to introduce the SLFP’s proposals for devolution to end the ethnic conflict more..

Forces warn clergy in N and E

May 6 (SAMN) The military has warned the clergy against colluding with the LTTE amidst growing evidence that places of religious worship are being increasingly used to store arms, ammunition and equipment. An authoritative military official said that troops would act swiftly on the receipt of information regarding hidden weapon stores in areas under government control. more..

UNP dissidents to discuss SLFP proposals

May 6 (SAMN) The 17 dissident United National Party (UNP) ministers will meet together to discuss the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) draft proposals in detail on Tuesday, May 8. A spokesman for the group while rejecting the creation of district councils as units of devolution as mentioned in the SLFP proposals said the group also would suggest a better model if necessary. more..

Locals to fill tourist hotels

May 6 (SAMN) Sri Lankan tourism, using the old adage ‘there’s no point crying over spilt milk’ is showing a brave face on an uncertain future and – like the crisis-filled years of the industry soon after anti-Tamil riots broke out in 1983 – relying on locals to keep the hotels busy. “We have gone from bad to worse but rather than grumble we need to move on, retain staff and keep the hotels going,” more..

Commuters wade through knee-deep water

May 6 (SO) Several areas in the Western and Galle Provinces were submerged following torrential rains accompanied by strong gales lashing out after the Vesak Poya Day. According to the National Disaster Management Centre several families residing in these areas were rendered homeless with eleven deaths being reported. The deluge caused havoc in residential areas with Colombo North being inundated while the Gunasinghapura bus stand was submerged bringing transportation to a grinding halt. more..

Fully fledged air defence system vital to counter Tiger air threat

May 6 (SO) The air capability of the LTTE has created yet another panic situation in the country last week with two Tiger aircrafts flown across Colombo, dropping bombs at oil storage facility in Kolonnawa and gas storage facility in Keravalapitiya in the wee hours of last Sunday. Though, the Tiger Air Wing was not successful in their effort to create a colossal damage similar to that of the 1995 LTTE attack on Kolonnawa oil storage facility, the LTTE has been able to create panic situation in the country. more..

World focus on Sri Lanka heightens as conflict intensifies

May 6 (NS) An initiative taken by the British to resuscitate the peace process in Sri Lanka has gained much prominence with diverse opinions being expressed in this regard. However, air attacks by the LTTE and retaliation from the security forces have dimmed hopes of the government and the terrorists returning to the negotiating table. more..

None are so blind as those who refuse to see

May 6 (NS) Last Saturday, while the Sri Lankan cricket team was fighting a losing battle in the cricket World Cup final against Australia, in near darkness in Barbados, a different kind of battle was being enacted in the darker skies of Colombo, where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were staging their third air strike. more..

Karunanidhi refuses to meet Lankan ministers

May 6 (NS) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had refused to meet Sri Lankan ministers and minority politicians since feelings are running high in Tamil Nadu over the Sri Lankan situation. Chief Minister Karunanidhi is celebrating 50 years in the state assembly this year and has cited his preoccupation with the celebrations as reasons for his inability to meet the Sri Lankan politicians. more..

Norway to continue as facilitator despite UK interest

May 6 (NS) Despite the British Government’s renewed interest in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict, the Norwegians will continue to play the facilitator’s role, The Nation learns. Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesman Ravinath Ariyasinghe said yesterday that although the British House of Commons debate on Sri Lanka’s situation and the Deputy British High Commissioner’s scheduled visit to Kilinochchi, have turned the spotlight on the British, the government has not taken a decision to oust the Norwegians from the peace process. more..

After Britain, EU also to rap Lanka on HR

May 6 (ST) The Development Committee of European Parliament is to now discuss the human rights situation in Sri Lanka -- a move that may end in a resolution or strong condemnation of the Government. The move comes in the wake of last week's discussion of the Sri Lanka situation by Britain's House of Commons. There both the ruling Labour Party and Opposition Conservative Party politicians heaped criticism on the Government over human rights abuses. more..

President faces battles on several fronts

May 6 (ST) At no time before has any Government prosecuting the separatist war against Tiger guerrillas felt so helpless and hopeless. Not once but four times within a month, the guerrillas demonstrated their air strike capability and got away with impunity. Last Sunday, the fourth time was more striking. They flew all over the skies of Colombo when half the nation was asleep and the other half were glued to their television sets. more..

Govt. takes off for sky war

May 6 (ST) Some forty minutes after Sunday April 29 had dawned, air traffic controllers at the Sri Lanka Air Force base in Vavuniya observed two blips on their radar. No air movements had been reported to them during that hour. They figured out they were two aircraft from the Tiger guerrilla air wing heading in a southerly direction. The Air Defence Control and Command Centre (ADC & C) located at the SLAF main base in Katunayake was hurriedly alerted. more..

CBK’s security slashed from 168 to 7

May 6 (ST) Acting fast on a Supreme Court ruling, Police Chief Victor Perera yesterday gave orders that additional security provided to former President Chandrika Kumaratunga be withdrawn immediately. In the order given to the former President’s security chief, Superintendent Nimal Chandrasiri, the IGP directed that Ms. Kumaratunga should have only seven police officers, including an ASP, for her security instead of 168 she had upto now. more..

Get on your bike on the tea trail in Sri Lanka

May 6 (TI) Dinner-plate-sized footprints? Check. Warm, basketball-sized lumps of dung? Check. "Yup, we're definitely on an elephant's trail," confirms our guide Pete Bluck. Many people go to Sri Lanka just to see elephants; there are about 2,500 wild pachyderms. But not me. It's the third day of a 13-day tour of Sri Lanka with Exodus, taking in the archaeological wonders of the country's Golden Triangle more..

7 rebels, 3 soldiers killed in Sri Lanka's volatile north and east

May 6 (AP) Seven Tamil Tiger rebels and three police commandos were killed in separate incidents in Sri Lanka's troubled north and east, the military said Sunday. A vehicle carrying police commandos hit a land mine Sunday in eastern Sri Lanka, killing three, an official at the Media Center for National Security said on condition of anonymity in accordance with policy. more..

Sri Lanka rights activists speak about 'challenging' task

May 6 (IANS) One of two Sri Lankan Tamils who have won a highly respected rights award say recording human rights abuses by both sides in their country for two decades despite death threats has been a challenging task. Rajan Hoole, 58, also said in an interview to IANS that he and fellow award winner K. Sritharan were happy to 'have played a modest role in sustaining dissident Tamil voices and the demand for a political settlement' to the Sri Lankan conflict. more..

Sri Lanka to tax local films with foreign stars

May 6 (AFP) Sri Lanka is to tax film producers who use foreign stars in a move to protect its own movie market and combat cheaper imported labour from India, an industry official said Sunday. Domestic film makers who use foreign actors in a lead role will have to pay 250,000 rupees (2,400 dollars) for every picture made, starting this month, National Film Corporation Chairman Asoka Serasinghe told AFP. more..

Split in Karuna group reported

May 6 (HT) The pro-government Tamil militant group led by the former LTTE commander Karuna has reportedly split, with Karuna and his deputy, Pillaiyan, falling out over money and the command structure. Quoting military sources The Nation weekly said on Sunday that Pillaiyan had fled to Trincomalee from Batticaloa with 150 of his followers. Pillaiyan, as the man in the field, had resented Karuna's remote control, more..

SL official briefs Delhi on politico-military situation

May 6 (HT) Lalith Weeratunga, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's Secretary, flew to New Delhi earlier in the week to brief Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Indian think tanks on the developing political and military situation in Sri Lanka. External Affairs Ministry sources told Hindustan Times on Sunday that Weeratunga met his counterpart, TKA Nair, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, and Tourism Minister Ambika Soni and interacted with a number of think tanks. more..

Thousands homeless after flooding in Sri Lankan capital

May 6 (AFP) More than 125,000 people have been driven out of their homes and 16 killed following flash floods in the Sri Lankan capital and neighbouring areas, officials said Sunday. The Disaster Management Centre said at least 50,000 residents of Colombo were affected by heavy rains on Thursday and Friday. More than 1,000 homes have been completely destroyed, director Gamini Hettiarachchi said. He said 16 people were killed in flood-related incidents. more..

SriLankan Airlines to focus on India

May 7 (CO) Sri Lanka's national carrier will support a campaign to promote India as a must-see destination for Chinese and Japanese tourists by offering flexible and convenient flight schedules, a senior company official has said. "One of the things that I discussed with my team here is how we should focus on India," regional manager of SriLankan Airlines (Far East and Asia Pacific) Kaushal Seneviratne told newspersons here. more..

Sri Lankans cry foul

May 7 (NN) SRI LANKAN cricket fans are calling for Australia's third consecutive World Cup triumph to be squashed. The calls follow Australia's wicketkeeper/batsman Adam Gilchrist's revelation that he had a squash ball hidden in his left batting glove while smashing a scintillating century in the World Cup final against Sri Lanka at Kensington Oval on April 28. more..