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Johnston admits that importing c’nuts is illegal

Dec 29 (DM) Internal Trade Minister Johnston Fernando, while admitting that there were legal restrictions regarding the import of coconuts, said that it was the only option available to bring down the prices. According to the Plant Protection Act, any palm, dead or alive, cannot be imported to Sri Lanka due to quarantine problems. UNP National List MP Dr. Harsha de Silva raised this matter on Monday. more..

It's a victory in defeat, says Maharagama UC chairperson

Dec 29 (NF) The budget of the Maharagama Urban Council was defeated for a second time today, but the chairperson of the council described it as a victory. Ten votes were cast against the budget while 9 were cast in favour. One member of the council abstained from voting while two members were not present in the house at the time of the vote. The Chairperson of the Urban Council, Kanthi Kodikara said even though the budget had been defeated, it was a victory for her because more..

Subsidized fertilizer denied to Batticaloa farmers

Dec 29 (TN) Batticaloa district farming societies have complained that fertilizer allocated under the subsidy scheme through more than fourteen Agrarian Services Centers (AGC) has not been distributed to paddy cultivators even after the farmers have paid money in advance. No other AGC has taken money in advance for the distribution of fertilizer under subsidy scheme says farmers’ societies. Economic Development Minister recently addressing the Batticaloa district more..

India plans underwater power line to Sri Lanka

Dec 29 (BS) India’s first undersea power transmission project with Sri Lanka is likely to be implemented by 2014. The Power Grid Corporation, India’s largest electricity transmission firm, which will execute the project, will give the detailed project report to the Centre within a month. “It is upon the ministry then to put the plan on fast track,” said a top PowerGrid official. The 250-300 km power link, including submarine cables over a stretch of over 50 km, more..

Middlemen pushing coconut prices up and up

Dec 29 (DM) Coconut growers are selling a coconut at an average price of Rs.33 although the middlemen were selling them at a higher price to consumers, the Coconut Growers’ Association said yesterday. “We sell coconuts at Rs.33 each though the middlemen are buying coconuts for as low as Rs.30 and reselling them with profit margins of Rs.15 to Rs.20,” Association President Anton Fernando said. He said retailers were creating an artificial shortage in the market so that more..

Swine Flu and floods cause deaths

Dec 29 (BBC) Authorities in Sri Lanka say that 22 people were killed and 371 others are confirmed to be infected with Swine Flu. The epidemiology unit of health ministry says that 16 people were killed and 143 more infected by H1N1 virus since late September. 14 infants and 86 children less than 10 years of age are among those affected, it said. While Colombo is the most affected district with 105 confirmed patients, Gampaha, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Galle are also badly affected. more..

Asoka Handagama

Palavi to boost domestic air travel

Dec 29 (DN) The Civil Aviation Ministry will renovate the domestic airport at Palavi in Puttalam with immediate effect to boost the inland air transportation system, Civil Aviation Minister Priyankara Jayaratna said. In addition, twelve other domestic airports in Polonnaruwa, Hingurakgoda, Ratmalana, Koggala, Katukurunda, Weeravila, Trincomalee, Sigiriya, Batticaloa, Ampara, KKS and Vavuniya will also be renovated. more..

Teachers protest against Edu. Minister’s orders

Dec 29 (Island) The Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union has lodged a strong protest with the Ministry of Education over a ruling by the Minister of Education that transfers of teachers attached to national schools in the Colombo district, effected by the National Schools Transfer Board, should be referred to him. This was revealed at a meeting of the Transfer Board held on Monday. "This is not only illegal but also sets a bad precedence on transfer procedures," more..

'Probe India's refusal to help in anti-LTTE operations'

Dec 29 (Hindu) Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Tuesday demanded that the Union government set up a Commission of Inquiry into India's role in the 2008-09 anti-LTTE terrorist operations in Sri Lanka and its national security implications. The UPA government's refusal to provide heavy artillery and air force support for the Sri Lanka operation against the LTTE had enabled Pakistan to set up a base in the island by more..

Assault at airport: NLF leader goes to HRD

Dec 29 (DM) NLF Leader Vickramabahu Karunaratne yesterday lodged a complaint at the Human Rights Commission (HRC) alleging he and his party members were attacked at the air port earlier this month. Dr. Karunaratne said his right as a Sri Lankan citizen to enter the country had been violated when he was assaulted on his return from Britain. “I will pursue the matter further,” he said. The MP said though he had complained to the authorities, no action had been taken so far. more..

Small industry hopefuls in Colombo, Gampaha left out of SMB loan facility

Dec 29 (Island) The State Mortgage Bank, which finances micro industrial projects approved by the Industrial Development Board, plans to amend its Mortgage Act soon. Under the proposed amendment, a prospective borrower could mortgage his/her property against the loan, thus doing away with the requirement for two sureties paying income tax, an IDB source said. However, applicants from the Colombo and Gampaha Districts, in the Western Province, more..

Sri Lanka gets Indian help for port, airport development

Dec 29 (LBO) India is helping Sri Lanka to revive commercial operations at a port and airport in the island's north to re-establish regional trade and communications links, a statement said. The High Commission of India said Defence Secretary of India, Pradeep Kumar, had discussed the projects during a three-day visit to Sri Lanka from 27-29 December 2010. "The two sides also reviewed major ongoing projects, including reactivation of Palaly airport as a more..

Sri Lanka commemorates its Chekhov connection

Dec 29 (BBC) Memorials to one of Russia's greatest writers, Anton Chekhov, have been unveiled this year in Sri Lanka, marking the 120th anniversary of his brief visit to the island and the 150th anniversary of his birth. On the initiative of the Russian ambassador, the Galle Face - one of the two famous colonial-era hotels in the capital, Colombo - inaugurated a plaque commemorating the writer. A sculpture of Chekhov was installed in the other hotel, the Grand Oriental. more..

Navy assists Indian Fishing Boat in distress in Sri Lankan Waters

Dec 29 (SLN) Sri Lanka Navy assisted an Indian fishing boat in distress in the Sri Lankan waters on 27th December. The boat with 04 Indian fishermen onboard had begun to drift due to engine failure putting the lives of the Indian fishing crew in peril. Naval personnel in the Northern Naval Command with the local fishermen rendered prompt assistance and rescued the boat with the Indian crew in the seas west of Madagal and brought it ashore for further assistance. more..

Authorities to remove taxes on gas

Dec 29 (DM) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has instructed the authorities to remove all taxes on gas in order to keep gas prices from increasing, said Trade Minister Johnston Fernando. “We won’t allow the price of gas to increase during the New Year season” he said However gas prices are due to be reviewed on February 1. Currently the tax on a domestic gas cylinder is Rs. 195. more..

'First phase of Kalpitiya Tourism Project to cost over US$ 4 billion'

Dec 29 (Island) Work on three of the 17 islands, earmarked for the Kaplpitiya Integrated Tourism Resort Project, has begun and bidding was open for the others, Deputy Economic Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said. He said that applications from prospective investors seeking to lease the islands from private companies, have been forwarded to the Cabinet of ministers for approval. more..

Govt. eggs at Rs.12 from today

Dec 29 (DM) Two million eggs imported from India will be sold at all Sathosa, co-op city and mini co-op city outlets with an egg priced at Rs.12. Minister Johnston Fernando said eggs sold at the wholesale market at Rs.11 yesterday. He said the private sector would also have to reduce their prices to remain competitive. The minister said the All Ceylon Poultry Association (ACPA) would not be allowed to continue its mafia-like practice and more..

Ineligible MPs also want vehicle permits

Dec 29 (DM) Twenty four of the twenty seven parliamentarians who are ineligible to get duty free vehicle permits have requested the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs to issue them such permits, according to ministry sources. These MPs (from the ruling party as well as from the opposition) are not eligible for new vehicle permits as five years have not elapsed since they last had permits issued to them. more..

Karuna a liar says Solheim

Dec 29 (NN) Former Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim has rejected claims made by Minister Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman at the LLRC regarding Norway and the LTTE. Minister Muralitharan had told the Commission recently that Norway gave the LTTE large amounts of money to purchase weapons during the ceasefire agreement in 2002 and that they had ulterior motives in pushing for a Cease Fire Agreement. more..

Sri Lankan student killed in US

Dec 29 (KC) Tuesday’s fatal shooting of a convenience store clerk in Kansas City shocked even those accustomed to heartless crime. The store clerk — a college student from Sri Lanka — was shot by a robber who waited in ambush, then stole merchandise. Minutes later, as the clerk lay dying on the floor, a customer stepped over him, grabbed cash from the register and left without offering help. “It’s hard to believe someone could be so cold and so disconnected from life and death,” more..

Broad pow-wow on private universities: IUSF invites Minister SB

Dec 29 (DN) A special dialogue to be held in all universities regarding the establishing of international universities in Sri Lanka, IUSF Convener Udul Premaratne said. Special forums, discussions, debates and books launching would be held parallel to the dialogue. IUSF is organizing it from next week. Higher Education Minister S B Dissanayake will be invited to attend these discussions. more..

Govt. lightens burden on electricity users

Dec 29 (DM) In an effort to provide much needed relief to electricity users the government overruled the Public Utilities Commission and decided that the eight per cent tariff hike from January will apply to those using more than 120 units and not 90 units, the Ceylon Electricity Board said yesterday. It said the relief package that will benefit 4.2 million or 92 per cent of electricity users also include the slashing of the monthly electricity bill by 25 per cent for non profit making institutions more..

local councils to be dissolved next month

Dec 29 (DM) The government will dissolve the Municipal Councils, Urban councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas in January and hold elections to the local councils in March next year, Minister Maithripala Sirisena said yesterday. The government meanwhile will present the Local Authorities Elections Amendment Bill in parliament on January 4. Daily Mirror reliably learns that the government is not keen to have the Bill approved. more..

Ex-PM lashes out at Govt: Alleges senior ministers neglected

Dec 29 (Island) Former Prime Minister and Senior Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake on Monday launched a scathing attack on the government for its failure to provide even the basic facilities for Senior Ministers. Addressing a gathering, after opening a rural electrification scheme at Raigamwatte, Ingiriya, an irate Wickremanayake said some of the Senior Ministers hadn’t been provided offices and Secretaries. more..

SriLankan Airlines wins award for campaign that improved sales

Dec 30 (LBO) SriLankan Airlines won the 'Travel & Tourism' category at the island's recent Effie Awards for its ‘Hotseats’ marketing campaign that led to better sales, a statement said. SriLankan received a Bronze for the campaign, which was produced by the ad agency Grant McCann Erickson. It was the highest award presented in the Travel & Tourism category, with no Golds being given, and one of 16 awards - 5 Silvers and 11 Bronzes - presented at the more..

CCTV cameras activated

Dec 30 (NN) Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa inaugurated the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) camera security network in Colombo a short while ago. Over 100 CCTV cameras have been installed at 28 locations in Colombo as part of the initial stage and the cameras have been connected to monitors being watched by the police, officials said at the launch of the network this evening. The police will maintain vigilance through 105 CCTV cameras activated today to more..

No calls for Sri Lanka travel ban despite Influenza Pandemic caution, says Maldives

Dec 30 (MN) The Maldives Centre for Community Health and Disease Control (CCHDC) has said it is not advising people against travelling to Sri Lanka amidst concerns about a recent rise in cases of the H1N1 influenza virus in the country, adding that no cases of the disease have been confirmed in the Maldives of late. Sri Lanka has recorded 342 cases of the disease, which in turn has been linked to 22 deaths in the country. more..

Rs. 200 million illegal cigarette stash discovered

Dec 30 (SL) Sri Lanka Customs discovered one more stash of contraband cigarettes today. Cigarettes worth Rs. 200 million was recovered, it is learned. The illegal cigarettes had been imported from Dubai. Nearly 10 million cigarettes were found, packed in approximately a hundred boxes. It has been estimated that the illegal import of these cigarettes has cost the Government over Rs. 100 million. Photos show the stash found by Sri Lankan Customs. more..

Kelaniya Uni. students protest

Dec 30 (NN) Students of the Kelaniya University staged a massive demonstration a short while ago over the failure by the authorities to address several issue in the campus. A tight police security presence was seen at the time of the protest in order to avoid any unruly incidents. Students from the Kelaniya University even last week staged a protest urging the administration to re-open the university for the second and third year students as soon as possible. more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 29.12.2010

SL lobbying for heritage site

Dec 30 (DM) Sri Lanka was lobbying the USESCO to declare the pilgrim route from Seruvila in the Eastern Province to Sripada via Mahiyangane as a world heritage site, officials said today. The UNESCO has already declared the central highlands of Knuckles, Horton Plains and Sripada as natural world heritage sites given their unique and universal biodiversity and species endemic to Sri Lanka. However, the religious and cultural aspect of Sripada was not considered in this respect. more..

Vavuniya prison tensed

Dec 30 (NN) A tense situation had arisen at the Vavuniya prison late this evening as a result of the transfer of a prisoner involved in a clash between two groups yesterday, a prison spokesman said. Initial reports suggested that some LTTE suspects held at the Vavuniya prison had taken hostage another group of prisoners. However when contacted a prison spokesman said that there were tensions at the prison following a clash last evening between two groups but more..

Sri Lanka delays move to restrict mobile SIM ownership

Dec 30 (LBO) Sri Lanka is to delay a move to restrict the number of mobile phone SIM cards individuals can own after requests for more time from mobile phone companies, a senior Telecommunications Regulatory Commission official said. TRC director-general Anusha Pelpita said that under the new rule the number of registered SIM cards an individual can have from one operator would be five. more..

Rs. 1.5 Million per Grama Niladhari Division for development

Dec 30 (GDI) The government provides Rs. 1.5 Million for each Grama Niladhari Division under the programme envisaged to develop the life standards of the people. Under this programme one million domestic economic units will be established throughout the country for improving the domestic economy, and will be implemented in coordination with the Ministries of Agriculture, Agrarian Services, Lands and Mahaweli, Livestock Development, Minor Export, Environment, more..

Minister stuck in elevator

Dec 30 (DM) Minister of Health Maithripala Sirisena who visited the Lady Ridgeway Hospital in Borella today was left in a rather embarrassing situation when the elevator he was in, was stuck for 15 minutes. The Minister had attempted to get to the 9th floor of the hospital but found the door would not open. He was brought down to the 8th floor but officials found the entrance was blocked. The entrance was later cleared and more..

Veteran artiste Graetian Ananda dies

Dec 30 (NF) Graetian Ananda, the veteran musician, vocalist and music director, died this morning. A spokesperson for the National Hospital said that Graetian passed away at 6.45am while receiving treatment at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Graetian was in the National Hospital for the last few days. To his credit are the popular songs including 'Bilindune Daruwane', Ipadee Lowe', 'Hithumate Jeevithe', 'Sihina Ahase Wasanthe', more..

La Lanka’s Les Miserables in 2011; please Mr President, we are hungry

Dec 30 (LG) How do I greet the second decade of the new millennium? Some 6,000 miles away, away from my beloved country I envy even those in detention camps. What I would not give for a trip to sunny Sri Lanka and meet all my old friends and neighbours but I am warned that I could be charged with plotting to overthrow the government with my incendiary writings and held indefinitely under PTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act). more..

The Sinhala (Mahavamsa) Buddhism revisited - A response

Dec 30 (LG) Wilhem Geiger in the introduction to his translation of the original Mahavamsa from Pali to English said, "We must not forget that the Mahavamsa is not a dry chronicle in the modern sense of the word, but a poem. In a poem embellishments and sometimes exaggerations may occur. But within these limits, I have the strong impression and whoever reads the Mahavamsa without prejudice will have the same- that the author at least wished to tell the truth. more..

Congressman Danny Davis calls Tamil Tigers freedom fighters, Sinhalese slave owners

Dec 30 (LG) Congressman Danny Davis (D-Illinois) who recently led a coterie of US lawmakers in urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to launch a probe into alleged rights violations by Sri Lanka in the final days of the war, was at it again, defending the Tamil Tigers as ‘freedom fighters,’ comparing the Sinhalese majority to ‘slave owners,’ and denying that the LTTE paid for his controversial 2005 trip to Sri Lanka more..