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Bridge to peace

PRESIDENT Mahinda Rajapaksa has described the newly-opened Manampitiya Bridge as a bridge to peace. In addition to being the country’s longest bridge, it has the unique distinction of linking two provinces - the North Central and the East.

In a physical sense, the Manampitiya Bridge was a long-felt need. Manampitiya has one of the only two bridges in the country with a combined road-rail configuration. No road traffic is possible when trains use the bridge.

Traffic woes are compounded by the fact that it is a single lane bridge, so two heavy vehicles cannot move in opposite directions at the same time.

The new bridge is an answer to the traffic congestion at the old bridge. Motorists will not have to worry about the train and the two-lane bridge will expedite the traffic flow. The time and fuel savings will be considerable.

The opening of the new bridge has coincided with the implementation of the Eastern Resurgence programme which the Government initiated after liberating the province from the LTTE. It will be a happy coincidence for Eastern residents, denied the fruits of progress for nearly two decades.

The new bridge will ensure faster transport of building material and personnel to the East which in turn will expedite development projects.

That brings us to the vital issue of people-to-people contact, without which development will be virtually meaningless. The new bridge will allow the free movement of people between the two provinces, increasing the bonds between all communities. For example, farmers in the East emerging from decades of agricultural neglect, will now be able to reach the market in the North Central Province faster.

This bridge would not have become a reality without the support of the international community, particularly Japan, which funded the construction.

This is one way in which the international community can contribute to peace building and nation building efforts in Sri Lanka, without necessarily imposing various conditions tied to human rights and other issues.

It was also significant that local expertise was used in building the bridge. This proves that Lankan personnel and contractors are competent to handle any major project.

With seven more bridges under construction in the East alone, we hope there would be a new era of development in the province.

It will also have a spillover effect in Southern, Uva and North Central Provinces which all have a long way to go to catch up with the Western Province in terms of economic growth. We thus need to build more bridges that would lead to peace and development.


Popularising fresh milk

MILK POWDER prices are soaring in the world market and consumers in Sri Lanka are feeling the pinch. The authorities resisted a price increase for a long time but market trends are such that a rise was inevitable at some stage.

It would not be incorrect to say that almost every household in Sri Lanka uses some form of milk powder. The country spends billions of rupees every year for milk powder imports, as the only local manufacturer cannot cope with the demand. Besides, most consumers tend to think that the imported variety is superior in quality.

The Government took various steps to cushion the blow, including the removal of VAT on milk powder, but it is not a long-term solution. The only viable long term solution is the popularisation of fresh liquid milk, which is not as easy as it sounds.

One of the main reasons that milk powder attained popularity decades ago was the lack of refrigeration facilities. This problem has been solved to a great extent with the advent of relatively affordable refrigerators and the ‘cool box’ is not a luxury anymore, even in remote areas. Yet, the milk powder mentality lingers on.

A simple price comparison shows that litre per litre, powdered milk was cheaper than the liquid variety until just a couple of days ago. A quality brand of liquid milk costs around Rs.80 per litre. But a 400 gram milk powder pack contains the equivalent of 3.5 litres of milk.

Thus the dairy industry faces two challenges: increasing production and reducing prices.

The dairy industry has to be totally revamped to make this goal a reality. This calls for a massive expansion of the industry, which will be a major investment. The Government must seek foreign assistance for this endeavour. A rise in production along with better transport and storage systems will automatically bring liquid milk prices down.

The other challenge is changing the ‘milk powder culture’. The steep price rise will compel consumers to seek alternatives in the long term. The public must be educated on the benefits of liquid milk while efforts are made to increase its availability and affordability.

Ways to meet global warming

WILL PRESIDENT BUSH, who refuses to accept that global warming is due to carbon emissions from industries, change his stance now as his rival Gore has won the Nobel Award? Read on…

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An Olympics free of terror

THE nation of Dragons is fully geared to host the global event - Beijing Olympics 2008 - with every corner of the city decorated with Olympic colours, symbols and its motto “One Dream - One World.”

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A tribute to Sir Cyril de Zoysa on his 111th birth anniversary:

A tireless servant of the Dhamma

Due to the good fortune of nations, from time to time and from era to era they witness the birth of men of mark. With the birth of such men, such nations see a national awakening, a resurgence of religion and the progress of the land.

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Holographic Communications Technology

A FEW SCIENCE FICTION movies show three-dimensional images of a person being presented in thin air. This kind of technology is known as a Hologram, though it is only being presented as mere science fiction and hasn’t been developed in the real world.

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