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Government Gazette

Organization of Professional Associations

Focus on International Day of the ‘Disabled’ People on December 3:

Design to include, not exclude, all people

Chairman: Session Section on Disability

We are in an era where Sri Lanka very much needs professionalism in ‘action’. Hence the OPA being the apex body of all professions is geared to play an influential, not informal, role to make the right things happen rightly, enforcing governance especially amongst the Government institutions.

The OPA’s mission focuses on ‘Sri Lankans re-awakening Sri Lanka as Paradise Isle’. Three vital pre-requisites here are

(i). To arrest waste of human potential and to mobilise this greatest asset,
(ii) To minimise the unwanted dependence,
(iii) To create the right opportunities so that goods, services and facilities will be put into optimum use in being easily reachable and usable by all people with none marginalised or disadvantaged.

Until and unless man stops constructing physical barriers to man, there cannot be any meaningful fulfilment of these pre-requisites.

Actively supporting this thinking, the Government has declared 2007/08 as the ‘Year of Access’ and the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (on an initiative made by this writer) responded expeditiously to establish a Sri Lanka Standard for building construction (reference: SL/ISO/TR/9527:2006).

The OPA, must be commended for the vision in giving recognition to these facts, realising ‘disability’ is a human rights issue and deciding it must also be an equally important key issue on their esteemed mission identified above.

Accessibility has today turned to a potential problem common to everyone of us. It is a priority item even in Mahinda Chintana. We are a country where more than 20% of the population will soon be senior citizens.

Numerous debilitating medical conditions often less apparent (like arthritis, back-knee-hip problems, vertigo, uncontrolled diabetes, diminishing eye sight, etc.) serious injuries as a result of cruel terrorism, road accidents and natural disasters, even affect alarmingly increasing numbers of youth.

A wide and diverse range of our population estimated at 30%, for different reasons, experiencing hardship to walk steadily or even to climb two steps which we take for granted. Very many of them fight a silent battle to access public buildings and places to reach and buy goods or use facilities and services important in daily life.

When planning new public buildings and places, the architects, engineers and builders along with the investors and property developers, should give regard and respect to this inevitable drop in human ability.

They should realise that we all are potentially disabled people or more correctly, ‘temporary able bodied’. ‘All-inclusive design’ and ‘barrier-free’ construction features should be their moral duty and incorporated at every stage of all building processes. Nobody should be ‘made disabled’ by the design of our environments.

What must be recognised is that accessibility will bring in simultaneously a series of economic, social, physical and mental benefits to individuals, families, businesses, society and the country.

It minimise unwanted dependencies, reduce poverty through enhanced employment opportunities, promote self-esteemed and enhance self-confidence in attending to activities of daily life. It has the potential to empower and make everyone truly productive. Hence accessibility is an essential prerequisite for ‘National development’.

The Business sector should realise that every person is a potential business customer and without access to facilities at business establishments, there cannot be ‘customer satisfaction or delightedness’.

Unless and until plans are made and action taken to empathetically modify their built environments, considered as an investment, to welcome this ever increasing enormous sector, the chances run high that they will soon lose big business opportunities.

‘Regulations are already in force’ (Reference: Gazette notification 1467/15 of 17th October 2006) to make by 2009, all public buildings, its facilities and services accessible and useable equally with dignity by everyone. It should be the moral duty of all citizens to respect these mandatory legal requirements, which is now the law.

I am pleased to note that the OPA has recognised that ‘accessibility is of national importance’ and has the potential to lay a good foundation to re-awaken Sri Lanka as a paradise isle.

These facts and needs can no more be swept under the carpet and we professionals should play a more active role here. Priorities have been identified and ambitious plans are being formulated under the present leadership, to re-awaken sri Lanka and make it a better place equally for everyone, especially the ever increasing wide sector of hundreds of thousands of us living with reduced abilities.

(The writer is also the Secretary General of ‘Idiriya’, a registered group of professionals promoting, advising and working towards constructing environments that are ‘enabling equally for everyone’.)


Questions and answers

Eligibility of Government

Servants’ Children to Mahapola Scholarships

Question: I am personally aware that children of parents having higher private incomes become eligible for Mahapola scholarships granted to university students as they do not declare their incomes fully.

On the other hand Government employees do not and cannot adhere to this because they have to declare their salaries.

I have two children in the university and find it difficult to manage as they do not get any assistance from Mahapola grants. Why can’t the authorities look into this matter in order to assist the children of government employees?

Answer: Mahapola scholarships are granted on the basis of family income and merit as recommended by the University Grants Commission. Your case may be true but detailed investigations on private incomes of students, families are not conducted but a certification from local authorities is relied upon.

We understand that usually children of government employees are not considered for the Mahapala scholarship. However, since you have two children in the university you can make an appeal to the University Grants Commission or the Mahapola Scholarship Fund of the Ministry of Trade.

************************

Delay in the issue of NIC

Question: I write to seek your advice. I, Cheryl Naomalie Hillman nee Dias handed an application to the Grama Sevaka of No. 64, Batahira/Katana in the Gampaha district on 24.02.2007 to obtain a new ID card as the original was misplaced.

The Mudritha Anupiliwela number is LA 204979. I have been to the Pradeshiya Sabhava or Divisional Secretariat of my area on several occasions but they intimate to me that they have not received the new ID card from Colombo.

You would note that it is approximately 9 months since my application was made to the Grama Sevaka. I am having a serious problem when at security check points the security personnel call for my ID card.

When I call the Commissioner General in Colombo his telephone is either always engaged or a lady answers and directs me to some other number where one always gets a negative reply.

Minister Karu Jayasuriya has said in a newspaper which I have as follows. The Grama Sevaka must see that an ID card is issued to an applicant within one week the latest. I think he is joking if by any stretch of imagination the Minister thinks that this is really happening.

Please help me.

Answer: The issue of the NIC comes under the Prime Minister and not under the Ministry of Public Administration of which Karu Jayasuriya is the Minister. Only Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates come under the Ministry of Public Administration.

We did contact the Commissioner of the Department of Registration of persons at Keppetipola Mawatha, Colombo 5. According to him it will be difficult for him to trace your application amongst thousands of applications.

Therefore, you have to go again to the Pradeshiya Sabhava or Divisional Secretariat which forwarded your application to Colombo and get the postal (letter) registration number under which they forwarded your application by registered post to Colombo.

If you can forward this registered post number from the Divisional Secretariat we may be able to assist you.

We do agree with that the Department should be made more efficient for the registration of persons which apart from security reasons will be necessary at all future elections for voters. If you wish you can directly contact the Commissioner on tel. No. 2583122.

************************

Biofuel opportunity

Question: Your kind attention is required to an article on the above subject on page 9 of Daily News dated 13.11.2007 in order to produce biofuel, should an individual or enterprise obtain government approval.

If so, please give the necessary particulars and procedures. Ethanol production is considered economically viable as the costs of fossil fuel prices continue to rise daily. The MBA team has not responded this query sent by me to them in this connection please.

Answer: We are sure all encouragement will be given to anyone venturing into biofuel production. You can contact the Ministry of Industry and Investment Promotion for any information and assistance. biofuel can be from different sources.

For example Malaysia and some of the European countries are using vegetable oils such as palm oil as a source. If you are thinking of ethanol base then the department of excise also comes into the equation.

If you can provide more details such as your source and place of manufacture and the environmental impact if any we may be able to offer specific advice.


Unique and novel contribution to human resources development of Graduate Chemists and Chemistry

Laboratory Technologists in Sri Lanka

(Continued from November 15)

College of Chemical Sciences

The vastly enhanced range of activities conducted by the Institute required at the beginning of the 21st century, to establish a more independent and authoritative body that would be able to meet the tasks that lay before us during the forthcoming decade.

Therefore a new by-law 15 was approved to establish an institution styled as the College of Chemical Sciences to conduct all the educational and training activities of the Institute. A special statutory committee called the Academic Board replaced the Educational Committee with additional powers, duties and functions.

Its membership includes ex-officio of the President and a Secretary of the Institute in order to enable it to conduct its affairs more independently but with adequate accountability.

The promotion and conduct of all educational, training, evaluation and academic affairs of the Institute is the responsibility and function of the Academic Board through its Dean and Co-ordinators appointed by the Council on the recommendation of the Academic Board.

The functions of the College, which was formally set-up on 25.01.2001 during the diamond jubilee anniversary of the Institute, are enumerated below:

(a) to conduct post-secondary, graduateship, diploma and certificate courses in the Chemical Sciences

(b) to promote education in and application of Chemistry at levels

(c) to initiate research activities in collaboration with universities, industry and foreign institutions

(d) to establish library facilities including database access and technology information

(e) to conduct refresher/in-service/training courses for scientists and teachers

(f) to assist industry in product development, problem solving, quality improvement and product diversification

(g) to encourage staff exchange between the College and the universities / research institutes in Sri Lanka and overseas

(h) to publish journals/monographs etc to disseminate the latest know-how in the Chemical Sciences

(i) to take any measures that may be necessary for the attainment of the educational goals of the Institute.

The distinctive logo was adopted for the College in 2002.

CCS newsletters

A newsletter is published by the College regularly to highlight its activities. The first issue was in April 2002 and since then seventeen issues have been made within six volumes. With effect from 2007, the newsletter is being issued quarterly.

Silver jubilee anniversary of graduateship programme

To mark the 25th anniversary of the commencement of the Graduateship Programme in 1979, a two-day regional conference on ‘Chemical Education for National Development’ was held in April 2004.

The holding of an Executive Committee meeting of the Federation of Asian Chemical meeting of the Federation of Asian Chemical Societies just before this conference enabled the FACS committee members to also actively participate in this conference which was held at Trans Asia Hotel in Colombo.

For the first time in the history of the Institute, Graduate Chemist Certificates were presented to the 33 Graduate Chemists who passed out in 2003 during the inauguration ceremony of the conference.

To be continued

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