Tuesday, 18 May 2004  
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Managing trees an unknown art to local authorities

The high incidence of falling trees with the resultant destruction of property and injury to persons, or death at times, has been and is a frequent occurrence in our urban areas.

Most of those magnificent trees lining the roadsides of Colombo City are of early colonial vintage and well past their natural lifespan.

Their roots have lost their spread due to age and decay, and can barely hold up the trees against lashing monsoon rains and strong winds. To add to this, the unchecked branch spread upsets their balance. These ancient trees are no doubt beauties but can be potential killers if they topple over unexpectedly.

The recently reported incident when a tree falling across the KV line had destroyed several houses and halted train service is a case in point.

The CMC, which was said to have been informed by the residents on several occasions, had acted with the due diligence expected from an elected local body the injury to persons and damage to property could have been averted.

The persistent complaints made to the CMC authorities it appears had gone unheeded. I believe those concerned could be made personally liable for this catastrophes on the grounds of negligence. At least this case should open the eyes of these busy bodies.

It would be interesting to find out how many trees the CMC has grown (not just planted) during the last three decades.

Take Kandy, Dalada Veediya is the busiest street in the town and had around 20 trees spaced evenly along the pavements on both sides when I was a student in the late 50s and 60s. Now only 6 tired looking trees remain and they have been cemented right up to the trunk by the Municipal engineers who seems to be indifferent to their survival even in the run-down state.

The City Fathers or the Municipal Commissioner don't appear to care 'two hoots' about trees - after all they didn't grow them!

During the recent past five or more trees standing around the Lake have fallen over, some into the Lake and at least two across the road. A car was smashed up by one. There are some very old trees standing on the Lake bund opposite the Queen's Hotel and will probably end their days on the hotel.

The simple commonsense remedy to prolong the life span of these ancient giants is to cut back the vertical branches to effectively shorten the height and thereby lower their centre of gravity to ensure a degree of stability. The far spreading lateral branches too should be shortened to ensure better balance, during high winds.

Environment Minister A. H. M. Fowzie who was the Mayor of Colombo somewhere in the 70s was the only person, so far as I am aware, who took some pains to 'balance' Colombo's green giants.

There is a crying need for trained 'tree-doctors' or 'tree-surgeons', as they are popularly known, to take over the management of these urban trees.

Graduates in disciplines like agriculture and Botany won't do unless they have the specific training. Countries like Russia and Australia I am told have such qualified personnel.

It would be well worth to have a few of our own people trained abroad so that they on their return can make trees safe for the public and also preserve them for posterity.
A. C. DE SILVA - Kandy.

Education system a burden to young students

S. Thambyrajah's letter in DN April 11 under the heading 'Education or Politics' brings to light the heavy burden and pressure on the young students of our country under the prevailing education system.

Most of the assignments given to the students to be done at home are matters even the grown-ups are unable to do, though some may be retired teachers as the instance mentioned by M. Thambyrajah in his letter.

Recently a retired teacher, being unable to get all the information needed to do the assignment given to her grand-daughter asked me to get the information, to obtain which I had to go to library.

Assignments to students seem to have become assignment for parents or tutors. Teachers seem to be satisfied with their student's work.

But when the students come up to the G.C.E. (O/L) and sit for the exam and when the results come out most of the students crash. No wonder there are thousands of students failing in all the subjects they had taken! Apart from the students, the teachers are also said to be having a tough time.

It is a sad thing to note that many graduates coming out of our universities are not having that much of knowledge even in the subjects in which they have obtained their degrees. The main thing seems to be that they had been confined only on their tutorials.

The thirst for knowledge seem to be not present in many of them.

I have observed that though some graduates are unemployed for some years, they do not have the urge to go to a library and do some reading Whatever it is, the system of education has to be formulated in a way that the students are not burdened too much but create in them the desire to improve and expand their knowledge.

A national policy on Education has to be formulated and agreed upon.
ARUL - Colombo 13.

Will some pensioners be there to receive pension anomalies revisions?

The Government has decided to rectify the pension anomalies of those who have retired before 31.12.1996 vide its circular No. PN/4042/E of 25.2.2004.

These instructions have been issued to all Divisional Secretaries/Provincial Secretaries and all paying officers and instructions are very clear however any problems are being requested to be clarified from the Director Pensions/Ministry Public Administration/Finance.

Any clarification may be also had from N. Abeywickrama, Deputy Director of Pensions on Telephone/fax 2432008. So Government has done everything possible to grant the fruits of the benefits as these anomalies rectification.

It has to be expedited. The Director of Pensions should monitor these, each case by case and see that the paying officers at least attend to ten or more cases every month.

Otherwise, it will take Donkey's years to finish these cases by each paying officer, and the already harassed poor pensioners and W & OP pensioners will be in the next world.

The cost of living has increased by heaps and bounds like the taxi meter and the telephone and electricity bills. Pensioners suffer in their old age, who have toiled to serve loyally their Masters.

They entered the Government services by means of competitive exams, not like the political appointments of nowadays.

The Government's intention and instructions are very clear and unambiguous and it is now the paying officers who have to do their lot.

I personally know of an officer who retired prior to 1997 passing away in disgust, recently over the authorities sleeping over it. The officers who are attending to these will themselves be pensioners W & OP pensioners in a couple of years.
V. K. B. RAMANAYAKE - Maharagama.

Recruitment to Government Commercial Banks

It was stated in 'Dinamina' October 14, 2003 that the Government is going to recruit bank clerks and banking assistants after an open competitive examination.

The relevant gazette notification is to be published shortly. The age range for this examination is to be 18-35 years. Because the maximum age is to be 35, many applicants will be unable to apply.

The present Government's plan to provide employment to 30,000 graduates is highly commendable.

We are grateful to the President and the Government for trying to solve problems faced by theordinary people.

The maximum age for recruitment of graduates is more than 35 years. The maximum age for recruitment to many Government jobs such as the clerical service is 45 years.

Therefore I request the maximum age for recruitment to the banking service to be increased to 45 years or at least 40 years.

Moreover, the results of the examination for recruitment to Government clerical and allied services held on November 2002 has not been released yet though Rs. 150 per applicant was collected for this purpose. Therefore I request the Government to release the results of this examination soon.
V. KARUNARATHNE - Maharagama.

AMMI, Thaththi, Appaachchi, Appuchchi

Certain, especially low country, parents are getting their children to address them as Ammi and Thaththi whilst it is common among certain upcountry parents to get the father addressed as Appaachchi/Appuchchi.

Ammi and Thaththi are not proper Sinhala terms and are not forms to address the parents replacing the words 'Amma' and 'Thaththa'. It appears to have originated as an attempt by Sinhala parents to give a western touch to fall in line with 'Mamma' and 'Dadda'.

As regards Appaachchi/Appuchchi the words are Tamil. Appaachchi is father's mother and Appuchchi is father. It therefore appears that certain Sinhala parents are misusing the words through ignorance.

Will someone please correct me if I am wrong?

Brutality of soldiers

Very recently, we observed the holy day 'The Prophet Day' (Seerathun Nabi), which is considered as an important event in the Islamic Calendar.

Our dearest Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always fought for the establishment of human rights. The ideals of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were set for the liberation of mankind from the clutches of corruption, brutality and terrorism.

We feel frightened seeing the bleak and terrifying picture of the present world where the so-called civilized soldiers torture the Iraqi prisoners in a most brutal manner.

The way the Iraqi prisoners are being treated is really pathetic.

Now the time has come for the rest of mankind to protest this brutality.
A. ABDUL AZIZ - Negombo.











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