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Census shows Lanka’s population 20.2 million

May 27 (ST) The latest countrywide census conducted by the Department of Census and Statistics has placed Sri Lanka's population at 20.2 million, official sources said yesterday. According to the headcount, 14.9 million are Sinhala. Around 220,000 persons add to the total population of Sri Lanka annually and by 2041 the total population of Sri Lanka will be around 24 million, the census, which was the first to be conducted islandwide in 30 years, showed. more..

Fear of Jupiter prompts poojas

May 27 (ST) Hundreds of people are queuing up at kovils and temples in various parts of the country for poojas and offerings to overcome what they believe to be the ill-effects of the Jupiter planetary change. The planetary change began on May 17 and may last one year, prompting people to seek divine blessings to ward off the Jupiter malefic. Our Kataragama correspondent said large numbers including politicians and businessmen were turning up for poojas in view of the planetary change. more..

Airport for Kandy: Agriculture Minister opposes selected location

May 27 (ST) A Cabinet Minister has rejected the proposed site selected for a domestic airport in Kandy on the grounds that the location was one of the country’s most fertile grounds needed for agricultural experiments. Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told the Sunday Times that the site selected was considered a ‘national treasure’ which had been initially selected by the British for agricultural studies. Some 300 acres which encompasses more..

Godahewa Vs. Jayasundera: Tourism board in disarray

May 27 (SL) Sri Lanka’s Treasury Secretary – also the country’s Tourism Ministry Secretary – Dr. P.B. Jayasundera has issued the country’s Tourism chief Dr. Nalaka Godahewa with an 18-point ‘show cause’ letter. The letter which was sent to the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Board (SLTB) last week has resulted in a voluminous response. It is also believed that Dr. Godahewa’s resignation last Friday from three of his four positions was more..

Fear psychosis among Muslims

May 27 (CT) Continued attacks on Muslim centres of worship have created a fear psychosis among the Muslim community in Sri Lanka, Secretary General of the All Ceylon Muslim Congress Y.L.S. Hameed said yesterday. ‘This cannot continue,’ he said commenting to Ceylon Today about an attack that took place on Friday against a Madrasa in Dehiwala, speculating that there was an ‘invisible force, probably international,’ that might attempt to create ethnic and religious divisions among the various communities in the island. more..

EPF in NSB type scandal over 'The Finance'

May 27 (LB) It has also come to light that most of the directors representing the boards of each of these concerns have continued to remain in their respective posts despite such dubious transactions having taken place under the nose of the govt. Financial analysts also pointed out that BoC, PB and the EPF, by investing public funds imprudently to purchase TFC shares have shown callous disregard for laid-down stipulations. The govt has categorically stated that the TFC had more..

MPs trapped in bribery net

May 27 (NS) For the first time in the annals of Sri Lankan politics, a considerable quantum of members of Parliament are trapped in the bribery net. Altogether 50 politicians including provincial council and pradeshiya sabha members are being investigated by the Bribery Commission for accumulation of assets running into billions of rupees having used corrupt methods, claimed the Chairman of the Bribery Commission, Jagath Balapatabendi. more..

Lankan cargo vessel detained in Durban

May 27 (ST) Sri Lanka’s only cargo vessel, the Lanka Mahapola, has been detained at the Durban Port in South Africa for non-payment of wages to the crew, maritime sources said yesterday. They said the vessel was detained on May 17 on a directive from a local court following written complaints by several members of the crew that they had not received their wages for two months and conditions on the ship were poor. All but two of the 26-member crew that includes seven officers more..

No int’l pressure for SF release - Tiran

May 27 (NS) If there was any international pressure on President Mahinda Rajapaksa to release former Army Commander, there was no need to have waited till he (Alles) returned to the country from his visit abroad, MP Tiran Alles said. He said some individuals who could not bear to see Sarath Fonseka being released have started a mud slinging campaign. “They are saying Fonseka was released due to international community’s pressure. It is vilification, and I have only one reply more..

Govt. slams door on UNHRC team

May 27 (ST) The Govt is to reject a move by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to send a team to Colombo to discuss the offer of “advice and technical assistance” towards implementing the US-backed resolution on Sri Lanka. The visit of such a delegation is conveyed in a May 14 letter which the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navaneethan Pillay has sent to the Ministry of External Affairs. She has said that such a visit would take place in July. more..

Alles claims opposition leader wanted SF to remain in jail

May 27 (SL) Comments made by Opposition and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, that Sarath Fonseka’s negotiators had not done enough when securing his release, drew the wrath of DNA MP Tiran Alles. Alles claiming that, “the General is no longer behind bars; he is now free at home,” further added that Wickremesinghe had made these comments because he believed the Opposition leader wanted the General to remain in prison for ever. Wickremesinghe, while speaking to a more..

Some government vehicles missing

May 27 (NS) The investigations conducted by the Auditor General’s Department have shown that over a hundred and fifty government vehicles have vanished without trace but the exact number that are missing are yet to be determined. It has also been found that most of the missing vehicles are those given to the staff of ministers during different times either from the ministry vehicle pools or those of statutory boards or corporations under various ministries. more..

Reconciliation talks process at a dead end

May 27 (ST) The move to kick start a "reconciliation process" is headed for failure after the govt ignored pre-conditions set by the UNP. As a result, there will neither be a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to formulate a political package to address Tamil grievances nor direct negotiations between the govt and the TNA. At least not for the moment. As revealed last week, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe made a statement in Parliament on more..

Pro-LTTE lobby in UK planning protests against President’s visit

May 27 (Island) The pro-LTTE lobby in the United Kingdom is planning to stage protests when President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrives in London to participate in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate 60 years on the throne on June 5. A large contingent of foreign dignitaries has been invited to attend the colorful. Amongst the special invitees are President Rajapaksa and his wife. Reports spoke of pro-LTTE Tamils sending emails to more..

Tremor in several parts of the country

May 27 (ST) A tremor reading 3.0 on the Richter scale was felt in several areas of the country around 9.50 last night, but at the time of going to press, officials were unable to say where the epicenter of the quake was. Geological and Survey Department Chairman N. P. Wijeyananda said the monitoring stations at Pallekelle and Hakmana had picked up siesmic activity and officials were watching the situation closely. “Something has taken place because tremors were felt at more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

May 27 (ST) From the Supreme Courts complex, former General Sarath Fonseka was escorted to the Welikade Jail to complete procedural formalities for his release. When he finished them and was about to leave, there was one man who felt sorry he was leaving. That was prisoner Anura who was tasked to clean and maintain Fonseka's cell. He told Fonseka he was sorry that the former Commander of the Army was leaving the prison. more..

She sells sex in Singapore

May 27 (LB) WCPB has drawn the attention of the authorities to the plight faced by Sri Lankan women in general after the revelation that a 17-year-old girl was forced into prostitution after she had been sent to Singapore on the promise of gainful employment there. This young girl was a resident of Chilaw. Her parents had been separated and she had been living with her grandfather until she had attained puberty when her grandfather had decided to send her to a hostel. more..

Energy conservation programme saves Rs. 13 Bn

May 27 (SL) The energy conservation programme launched by the Power and Energy Ministry in March this year is to be extended till next year after the programme saved Rs. 13 billion that would have been spent to purchase supplementary power during the drought period. The programme was launched to prevent a growth in demand for additional power during the period of March to May when the country usually resort to high use of thermal power. more..

SLC look to curb players' interaction with media

May 27 (PTI) Sri Lanka Cricket is annoyed with an interview of Kumar Sangakkara that got published in a newspaper and is set to tighten the noose as far players' interaction with the media is concerned. According to the new regulation that is likely to be set in place soon, Sri Lankan players will have to obtain prior permission from SLC CEO Ajith Jayasekera before speaking to the media. A letter to this effect is to be drafted by Jayasekera, in consultation with SLC lawyer more..

Kelani River gold rush ends in tears

May 27 (LB) Wijeyananda added that the services of experts from the GMB had been sought to determine whether the area where gold has been discovered, had any other valuable or significant resources as well. Meanwhile, people who were searching for gold in the Kelani River blame the authorities saying that influential people are trying to rob what ‘God has wished for them’ – as they were chased away from the area by police last Thursday. more..

Fasts limelight plight of Tamil political prisoners and the missing

May 27 (TW) A day long fast was observed in Vavuniya on Thursday May 24th calling for release of Tamil political prisoners and seeking information on missing kin. Several Tamil MPs, members of municipal bodies in North and East and officials of Tamil political parties attended the fast along with families of missing and in detention without charges. Families and relatives of missing pleaded in tears for the safe return of more..

Dr. Jasinghe’s appointment: A blow to politicization of vital health structure

May 27 (Island) The appointment of Dr. Anil Jasinghe to the top slot in Sri Lanka’s biggest govt-run hospital by the Public Service Commission (PSC) was last week described by medical administrators as a "crushing blow to insidious attempts to politicise the country’s vital health structure". Jasinghe assumed duties as director of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) on Tuesday, medical officials said. more..

Motion against EPF to further expose the regime

May 27 (SL) The scandalous share transaction between the National Savings Bank (NSB) and The Finance Company PLC (TFC) took a new turn last week, with UNP MP Dr. Harsha de Silva highlighting other questionable stock market activities involving the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF). Ceylon Grain Elevators PLC, Laugfs Gas PLC and Galadari Hotels PLC are similar fraudulent transactions already identified and more..

President on double tour to Thailand

May 27 (ST) In an unusual move, President Mahinda Rajapaksa will pay a four-day official visit to Thailand during which he will return to Sri Lanka and go back again to that country to resume his tour. The return for one night is to attend the wedding of the grandson of Minister Arumugam Thondaman. President Rajapaksa and an entourage will arrive in Bangkok’s Suwarnabhumi International Airport on May 29. In the evening he will attend a reception for the Sri Lankan community at more..

Opposition caught on wrong foot by Fonseka’s release

May 27 (Island) The SLFP-led ruling coalition heaved a sigh of relief as the Opposition squandered an opportunity to launch a common front with the unexpected release of General Sarath Fonseka subsequent to discussions between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and DNA MP Tiran Alles. As major political parties felt that there could never be an agreement between the Rajapaksas and General Fonseka, they didn’t bother more..

'Court delaying A/L re-correction results'

May 27 (SL) Minister Bandula Gunawardena says that the delay in releasing the G.C.E. A/L re-correction results was due to a Court order. “There is a pending case in Court on the A/L results. Hence the Court directed the Examinations Commissioner not to release the re-correction results until the verdict is delivered. I do not know why these trade unions and students are claiming that there is a delay in releasing these re-correction results when during previous years more..

Leopard meat for sale

May 27 (SL) The police arrested a suspect last week in Puttalam for attempting to sell leopard meat and skin. According to the police the suspect was arrested based on information provided by residents in the area. The suspect, identified as D.M Somaratna, a resident of Gulagodakulam, Puttalam, was produced in court following his arrest. Puttalam police IP Gunasekera said that a probe was now underway to see if the suspect was part of a bigger racket. The police said that the suspect will more..

Ocean fish populations dropping to alarmingly low levels

May 27 (ST) Over-fishing is reducing fish populations to dangerously low levels in the Indian Ocean and seas around the world, warned fisheries experts. Dr. Rekha Maldeniya of the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) delivered the keynote speech at a seminar on Marine Biodiversity, on May 22, which was designated the International Day on Biological Diversity. Most of the common commercial fish stocks, more..

Pakistan's spinners pose threat - De Mel

Mar 27 (CI) Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors Ashantha de Mel has said the Sri Lanka batsmen should to be wary of the two Pakistan spinners, Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman, during the upcoming Twenty20, ODI and Test series. "It is the Pakistani spinners we need to be careful of. Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman are of a different class compared to our spinners. Only Rangana Herath comes anywhere close to them," De Mel said. Offspinner Ajmal and left-arm spinner Rehman have more..

Sri Lanka state, business can cut costs with 'cloud technology': experts

Mar 27 (LBO) Adopting 'cloud' technology where computers are knitted together to process and deliver services as demand fluctuates, can help Sri Lankan business and the state to serve customers faster and more cheaply, officials said. Through the use of cloud technology, companies can integrate their systems on to one platform. This lowers the cost of handling and maintaining several data centers. John Keells Holdings, which has eighty companies in sectors, has been using the 'cloud'. more..

India reviews rehabilitation work in war-hit areas in Sri Lanka

Mar 27 (PTI) Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Ashok K Kantha has visited the stronghold of former Tamil Tigers in the eastern province to understand the ground situation there and review the ongoing rehabilitation work undertaken by New Delhi. "High Commissioner reviewed projects of Indian assistance currently being undertaken in the province. He also held wide ranging discussions with various stakeholders to assess the impact of more..

‘Super Six’ scores Rs. 10.5 million in first week

Mar 27 (Island) Taking the box office by storm, ‘Super Six’ which premiered on May 17, has achieved a whopping Rs. 10.5 million in sales during its first week of screening. This figure ranks among the best achieved to date in Sinhala commercial cinema, This blockbuster movie is an Udara Palliyaguruge film, produced by R. Sadesh Kumar and Srimathi Sadesh Kumar. The movie has scored another ‘first’ by being simultaneously released in Sri Lanka and India, with the latter being more..

She slashed the nose

Mar 27 (DM) In a weird incident that took place in the Godakumbura area today, a 40-year-old divorced woman had allegedly slashed the nose of a 26-year-old person for not continuing their illicit relationship. Police said the woman who had divorced her husband last December, had committed the offence as he had failed to keep his promise to marry her this year. They claimed the couple had been involved in an illicit relationship for nearly six years. The victim who is an assistant tea factory officer more..

'Govt must dig up more atifacts to strengthen national wealth'

Mar 27 (Island) UPFA MP Ven Ellawela Medhananda thero reiterated in Parliament that the govt should take up to excavating more and more sites of archaeological importance and dig up valuable artifacts to strengthen the national wealth. Participating in a debate on an adjournment motion, moved by UNP MP Harin Fernanado, on the current spree of treasure hunting in Sri Lanka, the thero said the treasures have been hidden by the kings and ministers of more..

Flood threat abated says DMC

Mar 27 (CT) Thirty people in Elpitiya who were displaced by floods have returned to their homes after floods have subsided, the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said. Sarath Lal Kumara from the DMC added that the landslide warnings that were issued to several parts of the island have now been withdrawn, as a result of low intensity rain. Deniyaya recorded the highest amount of downpour yesterday, he said, which was recorded at 73mm, followed by Colombo at 69mm and Galle at 52mm. more..

Main Tamil party wants NE merger

Mar 27 (ST) The ITAK, the major partner in the TNA yesterday resolved to call for the remerger of the Northern and Eastern provinces. The proposal was approved at the party’s General Council held in Batticaloa ahead of today’s annual convention. A senior member said that in future talks with the govt, the party would be calling for a solution within the merged Northern and Eastern provinces. Among the other proposals approved are to call for the demilitarization of the north and east, to campaign against state-sponsored colonization, equal rights for the Tamils and more..

Sri Lanka to probe frequent occurrence of tremors

Mar 27 (PTI) A minor tremor measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale hit Sri Lanka last night, but no casuality or damage was reported, officials said today. The chief of Sri Lanka's Geological Survey and Mines Bureau, Dr NP Wijayananda, said today that a tremor had shaken few areas at 2152 IST last night. Residents of Colombo, central districts of Badulla, Nuwara Eliya and the eastern district of Ampara had reported the tremor. There was no damage. more..

Chandrika forgotten by women’s affairs ministry

Mar 27 (SM) The women’s affairs ministry has not made any mention about former prime minister and president Chandrika Kumaratunga in a book it had compiled to mark international women’s day. Instead, it has given prominence to first lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa and even mentioned actress-turned politician Upeksha Swarnamali. The matter was raised by UNP’s Dr. Anoma Gamage at the advisory meeting of the women’s affairs ministry. Subject minister Tissa Karaliyadde has promised to more..

Public trustee paid Rs. 144,000 for PM’s suit

Mar 27 (SM) The Public Trustee’s Department has paid Rs. 144,000 to ‘Sitha Stores’ for a suit for prime minister D.M. Jayaratne to be worn during a visit to Vavuniya. JVP’s Sunil Handunetti made the revelation during the parliamentary debate on COPE. The Department has also spent Rs. 269,000 on books and clothes distributed during the tour. The auditor general has received several complaints against the public trustee, who has been asked to explain more than Rs. 20 million of spending during a period of one year. more..

Irate SJGH trade unions cross swords over Rs. 40 mn drugs fiasco

Mar 27 (Island) Amidst allegations of corruption, trade unions are breathing fire over the purchase of a substantial stock of drugs – mostly from private sector pharmaceutical companies – at an additional cost of Rs. 40 million in excess of the annual requirement of the Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital (SJGH). At a time admissions had dipped in 2011, the hospital had spent Rs. 200 million on drugs more..