Focus on International Day of the ‘Disabled’ People
on December 3:
Design to include, not exclude, all people
Chairman: Session Section
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
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
(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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
(a) to conduct post-secondary, graduateship, diploma and
certificate courses in the Chemical Sciences
(b) to promote education in and application of Chemistry at
(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.
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.
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