Toxic Dust

Toxic Dust

Colombo Telegraph

By Ranil Senanayake –April 28, 2017

Watching the black oily sand that is being pumped from the ocean bottom off Kerewalapitiya, is watching yet another tragedy unfolding due to the low level of sensitivity to environmental factors by those who prepared the SEIA. Perhaps they were too young to remember the Tsunami. The sludge that came up with the wave of the Tsunami prompted the following observation published in the press in 26/1/2005
“ The tsunami also produced many nasty surprises, such as the Return of our garbage over the last couple of centuries. Witnesses and survivors spoke of a ‘stinking black oily mud’ that accompanied the wave in many areas. The substance covered floors and tiles of houses after the event. There have been numerous reports of people getting sick from exposure to it via the flood or from just stepping in puddles of sludge. Sri Lanka is an island with a narrow but fairly flat offshore shelf that extends to the continental shelf. All the garbage, pollutants, toxins and topsoil that was dumped into the ocean combine with ship-based oil and organic pollutants to form lenses of toxic sludge on the flatter plains beyond the reefs. The force of wave creation, as the oncoming tsunami entered shallower waters, lifted this deposit into the oncoming wave.
The load of toxic sludge is now deposited on our shoreline mixed with the debris of the aftermath. Toxic marine sludge from other sites have been found to contain PCB’S, TBT’s, dioxins, heavy metals and chlorinated hydrocarbons – all chemicals that can damage human health and lead to cancers and other longer-term health effects. It is important that we do not dispose this debris back into the ocean nor put it in areas of human habitation.”
The colour of the sediment that is being dumped in front of Colombo is disturbing.  It is reminiscent of the toxic sludge disturbed and brought ashore by the Tsunami. The dredging of the bottom is being done directly in the settling zone of all the pollutants discharged by the city and the river.  The tragedy is that the SEIA recognizes this fact 
“Recorded maximum concentration is 4mg/l at the dredging site which is far below the recorded maximum ambient TSS levels during flood event of Kelani River. Therefore, increase in suspended sediment level during dredging operations is negligible and therefore no significant impact occurs during dredging operations. The proposed sand dredging area, experiences high turbidity conditions due to the discharges from Kelani River and hence the existing organisms have higher tolerance level to high turbidity levels.” (Chapter 7 pg. 1. SEIA)
By this statement it is obvious that the dredging is going on in the zone where the outflow from the city and the river settle. The SEIA lulls us into a state of false security when it states that it is not a dynamic zone, But, if this is not a dynamic zone where materials move all the time, there will be  much accumulation of sediment. It is amazing that they did not consider the materials they would be dredging up with the sand.
Perhaps they should have considered the studies done on the coastal zones of  other places. The US Geological Survey report is an example: 
They point out that this zone “is impacted by many activities, such as fishing, recreation, housing, sewage and waste disposal, shipping, and preservation. In many cases, especially adjacent to major metropolitan and agricultural areas, the sediments are polluted and the ecosystem has suffered detrimental effects.”
In summary, the geochemical studies in a variety of coastal environments show that:
  • Contaminants are widespread in coastal sediments. When remediation is needed, the large volume of impacted sediment presents a challenge. In many cases, the accumulations of the last hundred years of industrial and urban waste will continue to be reworked by biological and geological processes and thus remain accessible to biota well into the future.
  • Urban centers and sites of past ocean disposal of wastes continue to be sources of contaminants to the coastal environment despite regulatory and practical advances in source reduction. Dated sediment cores provide a ruler with which to measure changes in many parameters over time.
  • Databases of contaminant measurements in sediment that are assembled from diverse sources provide information about the spatial and temporal distribution of contaminants. Synthesis of regional data allows characterization of sediment quality, guidance in sampling strategies, determination of concentration ranges, identification of accumulation sites, indicators of recovery, and evidence of sediment dynamics.
  • Patchy distribution of contaminants in sediments is associated with both source proximity and natural variations in sediment deposition and transport processes. Every region studied has locations of negligible contamination accumulation and other locations where high contaminant concentrations occur in “modern” sediment deposits that are tens of cm thick. The degree of uncertainty due to spatial variability must be considered in all environmental assessments.
  • Many contaminants are associated with fine-grained material and/or are characteristic of specific sources or input periods. Changes in contaminants patterns can consequently trace transport and cycling processes and help measure rates of modern geological and geochemical processes in the marine environment.
  • An integrated systems approach that includes geochemistry, geology, oceanography, and biology is necessary to develop predictive capabilities for contaminant fate and transport in coastal environments.
  • Read More
Categories: Uncategorized

Alleged ‘Regime Change,’ Trinco Port and Conspiracy Theories

Alleged ‘Regime Change,’ Trinco Port and Conspiracy Theories

A Response to Dayan Jayatilleka

by Laksiri Fernando-Apr 28, 2017
( April 28,2017, Sydney, Sri Lanka Guardian) Balancing between India and China is the correct thing to do both in trade/economic relations and foreign policy matters, without aligning with one against the other. This is undoubtedly easier said than done given both the local and (less visible) international pressures. The policy must be formulated within a broader framework of Non-Alignment without any semblance of aligning with any of the global powers, the US or Russia, while Sri Lanka could take a prominent role/stand against any hostilities or war erupting in the region and beyond.
Both India and China could be Sri Lanka’s closest friends, in the latter consideration, as their declared interests/ambitions are primarily economic and not military. It is now time to resurrect the proposal of Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranike to declare and maintain the Indian Ocean effectively as a Peace Zone.
It is in the above context that Dayan Jayatilleka’s (DJ) recent article “Jan 8th 2015 Regime Change: Trinco Was The Real Target” (Colombo Telegraph, 26 April) is quite unfortunate and irresponsible. To claim that ‘Trinco was the real target of the January change’ is pretty delusional. The real reason for this claim of course is his inability to appreciate the democratic change of government through the ballot box in January 2015, whatever the inherent weaknesses of the outcomes thereafter. It is a refusal of democracy that DJ has unfortunately demonstrated most of the time in favour of a regime like ‘Kim Jong-un’ in Sri Lanka. If the 2015 change had not taken place, Sri Lanka today would have been quite a duplicate of the North Korean regime.
The delusion goes on to say, “So this is also what the new Constitution is about.” What is again neglected or distorted is Sri Lanka’s necessity and ability to change its constitution without dictates from other countries. A movement for constitutional reform has been there since 1994, first thwarted by the lack of agreement between the main two parties (in August 2000) and then by betraying the whole idea for the sake of strengthening the executive powers of a single person (in September 2010).
Conspiracy Theories
It is a blatant insult to the country and its people that the peaceful governmental change in 2015 (unlike Arab springs) and the intended constitutional changes are pictured as dictates of foreign conspiracies. Again, this shows DJ’s no-confidence in democracy.
There is a grand conspiracy theory behind DJ’s main argument. As he says, this is what the January 2015 change was all about, “the US-India-Japan axis, securing through a puppet Prime Minister, the strategic prize of Trincomalee as part of its competition with China and Russia in the Asia–Pacific region and especially the Indian Ocean.” His claim about a ‘puppet Prime Minister’ is quite personal that he has been indulging in without any decency in almost all his recent articles.
To talk about a ‘US-India-Japan axis competing with China and Russia in the Asia-Pacific region or the Indian Ocean’ is quite irresponsible to say the least. DJ is trying to dangerously give meaning to current situations (or bilateral alignments) in the image of the Second World War. The term ‘Axis Powers’ came into the use after a Tripartite Pact signed between Germany, Italy and Japan in September 1940. All these countries were fascist entities. Moreover, by that time, the second world war had already started; Germany invading Poland in September 1939 and Britain and France declaring war against Germany quite instantly.
The danger of DJ is not that he is warning about the dangers of another destructive World War. But he appears thrilled about the possibility, and already outlining the battle lines, even implicating Sri Lanka into the calculation. It is similarly quite wrong to drag India into an Axis Power equation. India has been a major leader in the Non-Align Movement and in fact the NAM was largely a design of the then Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. India has signed a defence agreement with the US in recent times (2016), but not for the purposes of war but peace. There are similar agreements with Russia, the old friend of India.
Even in the case of Japan, although she is quite tied up with the US at present in defence or military terms (after Japan’s unfortunate adventures in the World War II), if she is given the independent choice, Japan would prefer to be neutral or out of any future war. My studies in and on Japan during 2005/6 have led me to this conclusion.
There are of course competitions among countries that DJ has mentioned in the Asia-Pacific region, and in the Indian Ocean and beyond. Those must be confined to economic or trade ‘competitions’ and not beyond. It is in this context that Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s proposal for a Peace Zone in the Indian Ocean should be again resurrected. Even in the case of trade and economic activities, there is much room for all to involve creatively and for the benefit of the poor people in the region. It is the peace that should be emphasised and promoted, and not war, although there are dangers given power ambitions, unwarranted fears or simple delusions like what DJ shares.
Trincomalee Harbour
DJ bases himself largely, in his arguments, on what Wade Shepard (WS) has written to ‘Forbes’ (21 April) on “New Silk Road or New Great Game? India Developing New Sri Lanka Port to Combat China.” This is again utterly a speculative article. At least, WS has a question mark to his title. But in the case of DJ, it is completely presented as the ‘final truth,’ as usual in his pompous style and rhetoric.
WS’ argument is that India irritated by China’s growing influence in the country is trying to ‘jump in, show the money, and build something.’ And that is Trincomalee Port! Note the language he is using. WS is another DJ! Whether he knows or not, the Indian investments and trade agreements in Sri Lanka are long standing. Sri Lanka has been working with India in the SAARC context and whatever the current odds (spurred internally and externally), these links and relations should continue, keeping in mind the national interests.
WS has not substantiated his claim that “India Developing New Sri Lanka Port to Combat China” in the article at all. On the contrary, it is not long time ago (exactly three months) that WS writing to the same Forbes (21 January) claimed that “India Tells Sri Lanka: You Can Take Your Port and Shove It.” If there had been a sudden ‘Axis conspiracy’ within these three months, WS and DJ should show it with facts. Nothing at all.
WS’s January article was speculative as much as the present one. Therefore, on this matter or others, one should not take WS or DJ seriously. They are ‘trouble makers’ fishing in troubled waters. Although WS is now a repeated writer on Asian matters, he has a clear slant against China’s economic progress. He is the author of ‘Ghost Cities of China.’ Perhaps he must be harbouring the same type of ‘envy’ against India’s economic progress now. Until recently he was just a ‘free-wheeling’ and ‘fancy-blogger’ who has come to some fame because of his antipathy and arguments against Asia. This is the person DJ is depending on as an authority on the subject!
It may be correct to say, naturally, that India could be apprehensive if there are undue Chinese influence in Sri Lanka. However, Sri Lanka should not try to appease it artificially. India’s economic relations with Sri Lanka are long standing. There is no reason for India to suddenly ‘jump in’ as WS claims. If both countries, India and China, are interested in investing, helping and undertaking projects in Sri Lanka, beneficial to the country and the people, there is nothing wrong in encouraging both.
But what must be kept in mind is not only national interests, but also Sri Lanka’s economic and developmental priorities without depending too much on any of them. On this count, the present administration, and particularly the PM’s office, appears lackadaisical and quite dependent on other countries and investments. There should be a stronger national effort to encourage local entrepreneurship, promote savings and investments, and to undertake developmental projects. In this respect, there is some semblance of truth in what DJ says on the present economic policies. On the foreign policy front, Sri Lanka’s ‘non-alignment’ and the ‘middle path’ foreign policies, although not always properly followed, are well suited to face the evolving confrontational situations in the region and beyond. Sri Lanka should not be aligned with anyone in this ‘great game.’
Categories: Uncategorized

Who’s responsible for the human-elephant conflict in H’tota?

Who’s responsible for the human-elephant conflict in H’tota?

Who’s responsible for the human-elephant conflict in H’tota?
Apr 28, 2017
In the past week alone, around 10 houses were damaged and considerable crop damage caused at Suriyawewa, Bogaha Indiwewa and other areas due to wild elephant attacks.
According to wildlife department statistics, 347 houses had been destroyed in such attacks in the past seven years in Hambantota district.

People say they have to spend sleepless nights due to invading wild jumbos. They say state agencies’ mediation to protect their lives, properties and farming land was inadequate, forcing them to risk their lives to protect them.

G. Ranjani explains, “I am 53 years old. In the past too, there were elephants here. But, elephants did not bother us. They had the jungle to live. Now, the jungle is being cleared. They do not have a place to live. They now come to our villages and damage our crops. They damage our houses and eat the stored paddy. We do not have a way to live. On one side, our properties are damaged and on the other, our lives are at risk.”

This is what Ajith Kumara has to say, “For several weeks now, elephants come here every day. My paddy mill and the house were attacked and damaged by the wild elephants. We have been living here since we were small. But, we never had such problems from wild elephants. They come to our villages because the surrounding jungle is being cleared. Authorities seem not to see what is happening.”

Nisansala says, “We are in great difficulties. In the night, we cannot sleep. When elephants come, our children cry in fear. They find solutions when an elephant dies. But, there is no one if our lives are lost. Our crops are being destroyed. We do not have food or water. The jungle is being cleared in the name of development. Now, the elephants are invading villages. At least now, authorities should intervene, protect the jungles and send the elephants to the jungles.”

Wildlife officials say the clearing of the jungle, for development purposes as well as illegally, has aggravated the human-elephant conflict.

Out of a total of 2,609 sq km in 12 divisional secretariat areas in Hambantota district, 2,496 sq km are dry land. Of them, wild elephants live in Hambantota, Suriyawewa and Lunugamvehera DS areas. The 158 sq km Suriyawewa and 125 sq km Hambantota have the worst of the human-elephant conflict. These are the same areas where the previous regime mostly undertook development work. The Mattala airport started in 2009 had 800 hectares in the first phase and 1,200 hectares were utilized later, despite being the feeding grounds of wild elephants. Also, a large jungle area was taken over to build Magampura port, international convention hall and Suriyawewa stadium. This makes it clear that the people of those areas are caught in this conflict due to the development work of the previous regime.

According to wildlife department statistics, the district had about 350 wild jumbos around 10 years ago, which now has risen to 400. However, their area of habitat had not increased, but had rather decreased, proportionately. In this situation, from 2010 to April 2017, around 25 people and 57 wild jumbos were killed and 347 houses damaged in this conflict.

These days, wildlife officers are doing night patrolling in the Bogaha Indiwewa in Suriyawewa in view of the worsening human-elephant conflict, said forest ranger J.A.P. Vijaya Kumara.

“We have to protect the lives of the people as well as the elephants. The enraged people say they will kill the elephants. We are working to stop that and our officers are patrolling the area in the night to drive away the invading elephants. But, we will not be able to carry on if there is no stop to the clearing of the jungles. We need the support of every state officer to stop this destruction of the jungles.

Rahul Samantha Hettiarachchi, Hambantota

Categories: Uncategorized

The Garbage

The Garbage

Colombo Telegraph

By Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda –April 28, 2017

The garbage issue has surfaced a discussion in the social media which in my view is a positive sign. I believe, the politicians who rule the country during the last decades bungled the garbage issue, due to their negligence and selfish motives. It appears that our country’s policy and decision makers never saw it as problem that had to be urgently resolved.
On the contrary, during the last decade they saw garbage as an industry, that had to be developed in a manner, to increase a regular flow of income, to politicians and their stooges.
When the Meethotamulla garbage mountain exploded with loss of life, these politicians happily put the ball on one another’s courts and exploited the situation, to take political advantages.
The citizens should not be duped and be carried away by their polemics but ought to engage in constructive discussions and resolve this major problem.
There are several issues that needs clarification. Undoubtedly, the collapse of the garbage mountain at Meethotamulla created an emergency situation. The government was faced with the huge responsibility of swiftly clearing up the garbage piling up in the streets of Colombo.
Let us grant for a moment that the Executive President on account of the constitution, has the authority to declare garbage clearing as an essential service.
We believe, however, that the response of the government in this matter entails unresolved issues. One question is why the decision to dump garbage was taken in Colombo, without consulting the people who will be affected by this, living outside Colombo.
Even at a time of emergency, some degree of consultation with the affected people cannot be ignored.  If constructive discussions had taken place with the people concerned, then this chaotic situation would not have arisen.
The President and the Prime Minister may have sought the views of some district parliamentarians and they may have given the ok. However local people now strongly believe, as it was in the past, even the present parliamentarians are not the true representatives of ordinary citizens.
Some even have criminal records and others known to represent members of the underworld, selfish land grabbers and crooked businessmen.
Had they genuinely represented the interests of the ordinary citizens, how on earth could they recommend Muthurajawela as a dumping ground? This is an environmentally protected site by Gazette notification (detailed below).
Another important issue that needs clarification is whether the government was morally correct in depriving the people their right to defend their human rights in protesting, when garbage was dumped where they live, in areas such as Piliyandala, Dompe and Jaela. The Government had not published any health and safety guidelines.
I need to confess that I am not very familiar with Piliyandala or Dompe but possess some knowledge about the villages in Delatura and Bopitiya. These are towns located in the proximity of Muthurajawela, which is a very environmentally sensitive area.
It is of common knowledge that Muthurajawela is a sanctuary declared by a gazette notification No. 947/13 in year 1996. As this is made a protected area, causing any harm to the flora and fauna was punishable offence.
Accordingly, many ordinary citizens have been taken to task on several occasions for minor violations of this Act, such as cutting down a branch for domestic purpose or even taking a basket of sand etc.
Therefore, in my view the decision taken by the government to dump garbage in these areas is a violation of the decree promulgated by the government itself.
Was the recent gazette notification of the President in accordance with the constitution? The constitution has given the people the right to protect their livelihoods and their material sources such as the rivers, lagoons and land.
Have the scientists at the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and  National Aquatic Research Authority (NARA) all financed by the taxpayer, advised the Government Minister of the Environment who is also our President on the resulting impact of dumping 300 tons of garbage on a daily basis, on this marshy land?
Any person with common sense would know that garbage dumped will seep into the water streams, wells and the lagoon. Unavoidably, it will cause numerous health hazards to the people living in these neighborhoods. Isn’t this a violation of human rights?
The affected people in this case are two Catholic communities. The involvement of the two parish priests of Delatura and Bopitiya was and is commendable. Both stood firmly with their communities throughout their period of protest. Their protest was frequently supported by visiting priests and nuns and the Buddhist monk of a nearby temple. These leaders guided their communities to express their opposition peacefully without having recourse to violence.
For three days the clergy; the priests, nuns and Buddhist monk, supported the peoples’ protest it was a towering source of strength and much appreciated by all residents. The clergy’s presence amidst the local people prevented party politics from entering and causing unnecessary divisions in the community. Nobody could bring about any accusation that the Rajapaksha loyalists were instrumental in organizing this protest to embarrass the Yahapalanaya government. The whole activity in my view was in line with “people power”. In fact I identified two local level rival politicians working quiet harmoniously. In that sense the spirit of solidarity among people was remarkable. That is the kind of spirit that should prevail always in people’s struggles.
Categories: Uncategorized

The snake that swallows its own tail!

The snake that swallows its own tail!

By Dr. Ranil Senanayake-


While the stench of the Meethotamulla tragedy is still in the air and while the politicians and their advisors are scurrying around pointing fingers, it is time for us to take to task those corrupt persons who issue EIA’s to facilitate any dirty business. A Government that voluntarily accepts to get environmental clearance for actions that will affect the populace, just to please ‘investors’ or to freethem from their obligations, is a government that is robbing our safety of its citizens for short-term gain.
Now that it is obvious that the ‘assurances’ given to the population of Meethotamulla, only brought disaster and loss, it is time to re-visit the ‘Port City’ and the assurances that this nation has received. In September 2015, the following observation was made in the national media. It asked for the sections of the EIA that dealt with the impact on air quality, water availability, power production and garbage disposal from this Port City. Of course there was not the slight response from the Ports Authority representing the Government of Sri Lanka, just an assurance that it was safe.
With the huge, highly consumptive population that is suppose to people these new high rises, the current garbage crisis will be increased exponentially and it is not the dwellers of these new cities and megapolises who will have to die under garbage mounds, it will be those unfortunate poor,living in the areas with least political power. The question that was posed to the promoters of the Port City in 2015 was this; “we are alreadychoking in our garbage, will Colombo be the repository of garbage for the new city?” There is no provision for garbage disposal other than to say that the government will deal with it. We all know now how the government deals with it!With this new city with no responsibilities nor obligations to us, must we say goodbye to the old city now destined to come a slum of the new city?
The other factor ignored by the creators of the EIA for the port city was our right to breathable air. The medical studies on the city of Colombo indicate that over 50% of the citizens living there suffer some degree of respiratory problems. This statistic is a consequence of the quality of air that we have to breathe. The air quality though poor is kept reasonable fresh, by the input of air from the ocean.
Constructing a multi storey barrier to the clean ocean breeze that Colombo currently enjoys, will be shut it off any fresh air entry forever. In its place Carbon monoxide, Ozone, dust and PM2.4 will increase. There is no reference at all in the port city project documents available to us that addresses blocking the inflow of fresh air into Colombo. There is nothing in the documents that indicate the levels of Carbon monoxide, PM2.4, Oxides of Sulfur and Nitrogen that will be produced by the port city. There are no studies to indicate how these pollutants will flow and if they will affect the citizens of Colombo.
Given our recent experiences at Meethotamulla, one has to be very cautious of the permissions and permits that they issue. The EIA on the port city demonstrates the partiality of the government towards the ‘investors’ against the interests of the citizens of this nation.
The guiding principles for its formulation of the SEIA for the Port City states:
“(b) The Terms of the Agreement entered into between the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, acting on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL), and CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd (the Project Company), … stipulates inter alia that the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA)/GOSL is responsible for securing the required environmental permits and approvals.”
Such an undertaking by the GoSL can be seen to be in direct violation of its responsibilities under Article 27 subsection 14 (of the Constitution):
“The State shall protect, preserve and improve the environment for the benefit of the community.”
This means that when the Government of Sri Lanka agrees to get all the approvals that Parliament of Sri Lanka has set up to protect its citizens and preserve their rights,it is like a snake swallowing its own tail !
As the Government has agreed to supply the water to the new city, there is no indication as to where the water to run this city will come from. We all knowthat water is becoming harder to access due to the decreasing availability of water in the Kelani watershed. With our Government agreeing to provide water without stipulating where it will obtain the water from, at a time of a competitive demand for water between the new city and Colombo, it is not hard to guess who will get it, Colombo will have to get used to having fewer baths.
Then there is the question of power; will Sri Lanka have to suffer the health ill effects of fossil carbon-fired power plants to supply the new city with its needs? Is this the reason that there is such eagerness to build more and more polluting power plants?
If we leave the obtaining of environmental safeguards from the port city project only to the government the price that we will have to pay is obvious. Even at this late stage, there must be a strong public voice. We must ensure that the Phase 2 EIA is conducted properly and examine any construction on the reclaimed land done without the phase 2 EIA
 Phase 2 EIA: Construction of the buildings and infrastructure of the Port City. This EIA study will be based on the concept master plan and infrastructure requirements submitted to the UDA (and described in this SEIA in Chapter 2). The construction of permanent structures/built environment on the landfill will take place only upon receiving necessary approvals for the Phase 2 EIA study.
To begin any activity stipulated above without the phase 2 EIA, would mean a contravention of the law. Meethotamulla is the illustration of the price to pay when officials become corrupt and subvert the law. Let us await the Phase 2 EIA for the port city and keep a close eye on the goings on at the landfill.
Categories: Uncategorized

New year bonanza for Arjuna-Dhammika the Blue brigand thieves ! Misguide president to line their pockets with Rs. 50 million..!

New year bonanza for Arjuna-Dhammika the Blue brigand thieves ! Misguide president to line their pockets with Rs. 50 million..!

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News – 28.April.2017, 9.25AM) The notorious minister of Ports Arjuna Ranatunge of the Blue brigand who loudly and proudly brags of halting thefts and perfidies but engages in those very activities on the very next day , has yet again taken the president down the garden path to release 1150 containers after collecting  a kickback of Rs.50 million, according to reports reaching Lanka e news inside information division.
Prior to the last Sinhala New year , 1150 containers of 5 companies that imported white sugar were detained at the Port for failure to submit the necessary clearing documents . While the detention charges alone for non clearance of cargo had shot up to Rs. 100 million payable to the Port , Arjuna had met with  president Maithripala Sirisena and frightened him by saying , if these containers are not released , there could arise a sugar scarcity in the country for the Sinhala New year ..
The president who is vulnerable to such mischievous plans  and misguidance  has ordered Arjuna to release the containers without collecting the detention charges. Arjuna who was anxiously waiting for  that approval from the president had immediately informed those sugar importers to get the containers released without the payment of the detention charges amounting to Rs. 100 million, but not forgetting his own favorite ‘ santhosam’ request  –that is, after the payment of  a bribe of Rs. 50 million. Accordingly , each of the 5 companies had agreed to pay Rs. 10 million . Arjuna after  lining his pockets had released the containers. By this the loss incurred by  the Port is Rs. 100 million !
The Arjuna – Dhammika crooked  duo , the brothers in rackets have thereafter enjoyed Sinhala New year to the hilt with this Rs. 50 million illicit collection .

It is no wonder Arjuna is trying to pose off  as a  hero by agitating against privatization of loss incurring government Institutions , because it is through that masquerade even via  the loss incurring state Institution these rogues and rascals can make a fast buck . If such loss incurring Institutions cease to exist  , these rogues and rascals who are committing high treason to the detriment of the country will be left high and dry – lose their opportunities of robbing.

( We shall shortly reveal how this same Arjuna Ranatunge the crook of the Blue Brigand similarly celebrated his 53 rd Birthday most wastefully  and extravagantly at JAIC Hilton Hotel , along with Polhengoda Wimalasiri alias ‘ Doctor’ of Arjuna )
by     (2017-04-28 03:57:43)
Categories: Uncategorized



Sri Lanka Brief

The resolution submitted by a group of Members of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left saying that the GSP+ should not be granted to Sri Lanka, was defeated  in the European Parliament in Brussels on 27th April .
The Government  has partially fulfilled the two conditions put forward by the European Union to grant GSP plus trade concession to Sri Lanka.
The Cabinet of Ministers has  approved an amended version of a white paper on the proposed new counter-terror laws, following observations by the Minister of Defence, a portfolio held by President Maithripala Sirisena, and discussions with other ministers, reports Financial Times.
Sri Lanka has sent  a copy of the proposed amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure (Special Provisions) Act no.02 of 2013 to European Union, reports Groundviews. it further says that “the amendment is a cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s bid to successfully regain the European Union’s preferential trade agreement, called GSP+” Groundviews has published a  leaked version of the amendment and it can be downloaded  as a ZIP file here.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Harsha De Silva, who has been busy in lobbying EU parliament members in  Brussels, Belgium, had said that “Sri lanka  is very happy and it’s all done now. All voting sessions are over. We successfully defeated the resolution which was presented against granting us the GSP+ tariff concession” .
According to him  the next level of regaining GSP+ was the consent of the European Council of the Ministers which is a procedural step. “We expect there will be no objection at the Council of Ministers. Once they give approval, a gazette will be issued making it the law,” he had said. He said the process of regaining the concession will go through the Council of Ministers around May 11.
Categories: Uncategorized

Government drags its feet on mega $ 3 b FDI

Government drags its feet on mega $ 3 b FDI

Government drags its feet on mega $ 3 b FDI
Apr 28, 2017
The Government is alleged to be dragging its feet on a massive and highly beneficial private sector-run oil refinery project with foreign investment of $ 3 billion, biggest ever on its table and three times the size of individual Chinese commitment on projects such as the Port City and Hambantota Port.
The oil refinery project envisages refining 200,000 barrels per day (10 million metric tonnes per annum) for export with first right of refusal for Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) if it wants to buy. The venture was to supply barge mounted bunkering for ships passing the seas off Hambantota as well.  Another benefit is the availability of 150 MW of power to the national grid since the refinery will be operated by a 300 MW power plant. The promoters have also proposed as a CSR initiative to supply excess capacity of desalinated water required for the refinery to the people. The byproducts of the oil refinery include LPG, bitumen and urea with the latter having big markets in India and Pakistan.
Land required, amounting to 30 hectares, has been identified inside the Hambantota Port as well as 200 hectares outside the port belonging to the Mahaweli Authority. The project will create around 20,000 direct and indirect jobs, mostly within Hambantota.
Given the size of the investment and multiple socioeconomic benefits, the Prime Minister-chaired Cabinet Committee on Economic Management had approved the project in principle in November 2016. As a further step, it was included in the Hambantota Integrated Development Plan which the Government was firming up and eventually announced on 8 January this year, when President Maithripala Sirisena marked his second year in office.
But since then the authorities are alleged to have been dragging their feet.
The CPC has said there was no objection to the venture since it is 100% export-based. The Central Environmental Authority had also held a meeting with 14 relevant agencies for the purpose of approval and representatives visited the two sites indentified for inspection. Most of them had consented, provided some of the paddy and banana cultivators are relocated. The Presidential Secretariat also wrote to the Mahaweli Authority for its opinion on the release of the land.
Upon receiving all approvals, the first tranche of the investment has been assured within 120 days and the project will start construction within 180 days with the completion period estimated to be from 24-30 months.
Promoters said that given the fact that no preconditions had been set for the project, unlike some of the contentious Chinese investments, the delay in fast-tracking the project remains a mystery. This is a green field investment with considerable potential for foreign exchange earnings as well as savings.
The investing consortium for the proposed oil refinery is based in the UAE and has enlisted technical partners from Japan and Italy among others. The oil to be refined is EU standard 98 Octane.
Once completed, promoters said they can supply refined products at a much cheaper price than what the CPC is currently sourcing at, thereby saving valuable foreign exchange.
For ships, the current alternatives are Singapore and Fujairah but Hambantota is a more competitive and less time consuming option given Sri Lanka’s strategic geographic location.
The quantum of investment from this single project is 60% of what the Chinese Ambassador had promised for the Chinese-funded industrial zones in Hambantota.
China Merchant’s investment planned for Hambantota is only $ 1.2 billion (for 80% stake) and that figure too is likely to be revised as certain sections within the coalition Government want a higher stake for the Sri Lanka Ports Authority while China Harbour’s investment in the Port City is $ 1.4 billion.
Categories: Uncategorized

Clashes erupt across Palestinian cities following calls for ‘day of rage’

Clashes erupt across Palestinian cities following calls for ‘day of rage’

A series of demonstrations have been held in the West Bank in support of the prisoners, resulting in clashes with Israeli forces

Friday 28 April 2017
Clashes hit several Palestinian cities on Friday after Palestinian protesters called for a “day of rage” in solidarity with more than 1,500 prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons.
A source on the ground told Middle East Eye that confrontations between Israeli army officers and hundreds of Palestinian protestors flared up across areas of east Ramallah, north Hebron, south Nablus and Bethlehem.
Israeli soldiers clash with Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank village of Silwad, on April 28, 2017 (AFP)
Meanwhile, dozens of young Palestinians clashed with the Israeli army near Qalandia checkpoint, north of Jerusalem, after the army used tear gas and rubber and steel bullets to disperse the demonstrations, the MEE source reported. The checkpoint, connecting Jerusalem and Ramallah, was closed off as a result.
In the village of Silwad, on the West Bank, Palestinian protesters hurled stones at Israeli troops manning a military tower, AFP reported. The soldiers retaliated by firing stun grenades and tear gas.
Palestinians protest in support of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, in front of the Dome of the Rock on 28 April 2017 (Reuters)
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that eight Palestinian were wounded in clashes across the West Bank.
A spokeswoman for the Israeli army said that around 2,000 Palestinians took part in what she called “violent riots” across the West Bank and had been “dispersed”. She gave no other details, reported AFP.

Call for solidarity

The day of action was called by Fatah, the political party of the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and the national committee to support the prisoners’ hunger strike.
In a statement issued last week, Fatah called on Palestinians to instigate clashes with Israeli forces to express solidarity with the hunger-striking prisoners, who entered their 12th day without food on Friday.


Clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli occupation in downtown of occupied    
The statement said the “excessive” practices of the Israeli occupation, particularly by the Israeli Prison Service, meant Palestinians should “clash with the occupier everywhere across our homeland”.
Clashes also occurred near Ofer Prison north of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, where several dozen Palestinians protesters confronted Israeli forces last week after Israeli hardliners taunted Palestinian detainees on hunger strike by barbecuing outside a prison.
Protesters in the West bank village of Beita, near Nablus, on 28 April 2017 (Reuters)
Palestinian officials say some 1,500 prisoners are participating in the hunger strike that began on 17 April, with detainees ingesting only water and salt. Israeli authorities have put the number at around 1,200.
Some 6,500 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel for a range of offences and alleged crimes. Around 500 are being held under Israel’s system of administrative detention, which allows for imprisonment without charge.

Prisoners want better care

Palestinian prisoners have mounted repeated hunger strikes, but rarely on such a scale before.
The hunger strike is being led by Palestinian leader and prominent prisoner Marwan Barghouti, serving five life sentences over his role in the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, of 2000 to 2005.
The prisoners have issued demands ranging from better medical care to phone access.
Barghouti is popular among Palestinians, with polls suggesting he could win the Palestinian presidency.
A Palestinian NGO said this week that Barghouti’s health has seriously declined and that he was refusing medical treatment.
Palestinian leaders have denounced Israel’s refusal to negotiate with the hunger strikers, warning of a “new intifada” if any of them die.
Categories: Uncategorized

Leaked report highlights Israel lobby’s failures

Leaked report highlights Israel lobby’s failures

The Reut Institute, founded by former government advisor Gidi Grinstein, has conceded in a secret report jointly prepared with the ADL that Israel’s efforts to thwart the Palestine solidarity movement have failed. (viaFacebook)
Ali Abunimah-28 April 2017
Key Israel lobby groups have conceded that they have failed to counter the Palestine solidarity movement, despite vastly increasing their spending. The admission is contained in a secret report that The Electronic Intifada has obtained.
The report, published here in full for the first time, outlines Israel’s failure to stem the “impressive growth” and “significant successes” of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.
It also sets out strategies, endorsed by the Israeli government, aimed at reversing the deterioration in Israel’s position.
But while calling for harsher measures against the Palestine solidarity movement, the report offers no new ideas to deal with how Israel is beset not by an image problem but a reality problem: its regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid is increasingly viewed around the world as reprehensible and unsustainable, even by many of Israel’s defenders.
The report nevertheless identifies key concerns and likely targets of Israel’s propaganda planners.
Even while attempting to come up with a formula to defeat it, the report admits that the movement for Palestinian rights is based on “appealing and sophisticated” arguments which Israel has so far failed to match.

The “20X question”

The report is spurred by what it calls the “20X question” – the fact that pro-Israel groups have increased their spending to combat the Palestine solidarity movement twenty-fold over the last six years and yet despite these tens of millions of dollars, “results remain elusive.”
The existence of the report had been revealed in February by The Jewish Daily Forward.
It was prepared by the Anti-Defamation League and the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank founded by former government adviser Gidi Grinstein, with the help of “experts” from Israel lobby groups and the Israeli goverment.
According to the Forward, Reut and the ADL were “only circulating print copies of the report” among selected pro-Israel operatives, and the newspaper had received it on condition that it not be published in its entirety.
The full document can be read below.

“Significant successes”

Key findings of the ADL-Reut report include:
  • Palestine solidarity activists can boast “significant successes,” including creating an “unfavorable zeitgeist around Israel” in many parts of the world.
  • The Palestine solidarity movement has “expanded from Europe to the US and many other locations worldwide” and has “deepened its alliances with major minority groups and social justice coalitions.”
  • Palestine solidarity has “migrated into mainstream left-wing parties in Europe” and “may be gaining traction” in the US.
  • Israel’s repeated wars in Gaza – in 2009, 2012 and 2014 – have “boosted” support for the “delegitimization” of Israel.
  • “The targeted boycott effort against Israel’s continued presence in the West Bank, and particularly the settlements, is gaining momentum.”
  • Most of the “collateral damage” being done to Israel by the BDS movement is a result of a growing “silent boycott” – groups, individuals and companies who make undeclared decisions to refrain from engaging with Israel, either because of their support for Palestinian rights, or simply to “avoid unnecessary problems and criticisms.”

Endorsed by Israel

As The Electronic Intifada previously reported, based on the Forward’s summary, the document advocates “driving a wedge” between what it says are hard core “delegitimizers” who lead the BDS movement and “soft critics” of Israel. It advocates dealing with the hard core leaders “uncompromisingly” and “covertly.”
In 2010, Reut advocated for Israeli spy agencies to “sabotage” BDS as part of an “attacking” strategy.
The 2010 document shaped the strategy of Israel and its lobby groups around the world. The new report repeats key themes of the earlier document: it smears the Palestine solidarity movement as fostering anti-Semitism and attempts to tie that movement to Iran and “terrorism.”
This report carries a direct endorsement from a top official in Israel’s global battle against supporters of Palestinian rights.
“The correlation between the ministry’s mode of operation and what comes out of this document is very high,” Sima Vaknin-Gil, director general of Israel’s strategic affairs ministry is quoted as saying. “I am glad to see that we share a very similar point of view regarding the challenge and desired strategy.”
Under its minister, Gilad Erdan, the strategic affairs ministry has been engaged in what one veteran reporter on Israeli intelligence has termed “black ops” against the Palestinian rights movement.
According to the analyst, Yossi Melman, these attacks may include “defamation campaigns, harassment and threats to the lives of activists” as well as “infringing on and violating their privacy.”
The ADL-Reut report also reveals the identity of the strategic affairs ministry’s’ “director of intelligence.” Shai Har-Zvi is named as one of the many contributors to the document.
The report stresses the importance of gathering “intelligence” against the movement.
According to Melman, the ministry’s intelligence section is run by former spy agency operatives.

Trump bad for Israel?

The report recognizes that Israel is increasingly seen as a right-wing cause.
In the short term, the election of Donald Trump may lead to a “warmer relationship” with Israel, as compared with the supposedly stormy Obama years, the ADL-Reut report states.
But in the long run Trump may be bad for Israel by associating it with his right-wing administration’s policies that are deeply unpopular with “many American Jews and non-Jewish liberals and progressives.”
“US Jewry is undergoing its deepest-ever identity crisis, in which the future role of Israel in Jewish identity looms large,” the report states. It predicts a “decrease in mainstream Jewish activism for Israel” and says that “increased Jewish anti-Israel activism” is already evident.
This erosion of Jewish support for and identification with Israel is a result of the “perception” that Israel is moving away from the image it promotes of a “pluralistic, peace-seeking and democratic” country.
“The government of Israel seems to under-appreciate the collateral damage to Israel’s standing among Diaspora Jewish communities” of its policies, the report states.
Efforts to combat the Palestine solidarity movement “will fail if they are accompanied by anti-Muslim sentiments that push soft critics and bystanders” towards the Palestine solidarity movement, the report warns. Harnessing and promoting Islamophobia has been a key tactic of Israel advocacy in recent years.

Driving people away

While Israel’s base of support has become narrower, the report sees a major challenge in the “rise of intersectionality” – the fact that other peoples struggling against violence and oppression see their situations as linked to that of the Palestinians.
“The Palestinian cause has been widely adopted” by “many marginalized groups” it states.
The report mentions LGBTQ communities, Latinos and African Americans as groups increasingly sympathetic to Palestinian rights that should be intensively targeted by Israel lobby “engagement” efforts.
Israel, the report argues, has defined the enemy too broadly, lumping in “soft critics” who can be co-opted and even turned into allies against BDS, with the “delegitimizers” and “harsh critics” who must be fought uncompromisingly.
Yet Israel and some of its most vocal surrogates are ignoring this advice. At a recent Israel-sponsored anti-BDS conference in New York, a panelist attacked a Jewish student from the liberal Zionist group J Street as a representative of an “anti-Semitic organization.”
At the same conference, Reut Institute founder Gidi Grinstein stressed the need for Israel to win the support of progressives as it is only “through progressive groups we can win.”
Even more starkly, this week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu antagonized one of Israel’s closest allies and arms suppliers when he canceled a meeting with Germany’s foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel.
Gabriel’s crime was that he planned to also meet with two leftist Zionist organizations, the human rights group B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, which collects testimonies from Israeli soldiers about their violations of Palestinian rights.
Doubling down, Israel’s deputy foreign minister termed Breaking the Silence an “enemy” of Israel.
Gabriel said that if German leaders had acted in the same manner as Netanyahu, they would be called “crazy.”
The report warns that just such a “heavy-handed approach to soft critics may actually drive them away and closer to the anti-Israel camp, rather than bring them closer to Israel.”
The report also acknowledges that the anti-BDS laws pushed by Israel and its lobby in various countries have “raised concerns regarding their possible violation of free speech,” which is also turning off potential supporters of Israel.

No good answers

The 30-page report devotes a few sentences to acknowledging – at least partially – some of the root causes of Israel’s deteriorating global situation: “Israel’s policies regarding Palestinians in the West Bank, the absence of a peace process and the continuation of the settlements policy.” It also points to the “mistreatment of the indigenous population – the Arab citizens of Israel.”
But the report ignores the obvious, that Israel can end the BDS movement by ending the reasons for it: the systematic denial of Palestinian rights.
Instead, it recommends that Israel and its lobby double down on “positive messaging and branding” to portray Israel as a hub of “innovation” and “creativity” – deflection strategies that have failed so far.
The report acknowledges that what it calls the “delegitimization movement” is “founded on intellectual arguments that challenge the foundations of Zionism.” It identifies “a need to intellectually match those arguments in an equally appealing and sophisticated manner.”
Yet it is readily apparent that Zionist intellectuals have no compelling answer to arguments that there can be no such thing as a “Jewish and democratic state” without massive and ongoing violations of the basic rights of millions of Palestinians, especially refugees who are barred from returning to their homes solely because they are not Jews.
This is precisely why Israel and its lobby groups are attempting to redefine any questioning of Zionism’s political claims as a form of anti-Semitism.
This report sets as a goal to make “delegitimization” – any questioning of the “right” of Israel to exist as an explicitly Jewish state regardless of what that means for Palestinians – “socially inappropriate.”
By this definition, calling for a modern, democratic state in which Jews, Muslims, Christians and people of all national identities have full, equal and protected rights constitutes an anti-Semitic attack.
The ADL and the Reut Institute effectively acknowledge that Israel has no winning arguments that can sway so-called bystanders, people who don’t already have a view on its treatment of Palestinians. They warn that a “ ‘pre-emptive’ strategy of showcasing Israel’s side of the conflict among the bystanders, is unlikely to be effective. Only once the positive emotional connection has been set, then hasbara tactics may be effective.”
Hasbara is the Hebrew term for Israel’s state propaganda.
Asa Winstanley contributed analysis.

Categories: Uncategorized

Blog at