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Monday, 17 January 2011

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Closer together

Development in the North is continuing at an accelerated pace as if to make up for the lost years of neglect and abandonment. This also contributes to the speeding up the normalisation process after decades of war. From all reports the Jaffna peninsula is today buzzing with activity with traders from the South and local tourists descending on the area as at no other time in recent memory.

A significant development in the peninsula post war has not only been the rehabilitation of war damaged infrastructure and rebuilding over the rubble. New edifices and constructions are also coming up at a rapid pace transforming the entire peninsula from an abandoned and war devastated landmass to a new dynamic entity.

The latest addition is the Sangupiddy new bridge built at a cost of Rs 1037 million on the Navatkuli-Karathivu-Mannar (A32) road that was declared opened by President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday. The bridge which is 288 meters in length and 7.4 meters in width while providing a new gateway to the peninsula by passing the A9 route will also shorten the distance to Jaffna by 110 kilometres. The new bridge was a fulfilment of a pledge made in the Mahinda Chintana policy document.

The minimal distance and less travel time to the peninsula via the new bridge no doubt is going to increase the tempo further with more and more North bound traffic. With the completion of the railway system and repairs to other roadways, Jaffna no doubt will be transformed into commercial hub in the near future.

The bridge is part of the Uthuru Vansanthaya program to rejuvenate the North. With the recommencement of the many ferry services and the repairs to other small-scale bridges the people of the North can today travel unhampered and in freedom.

As mentioned this easy access now to the North via the new bridge is bound to see an expansion of activity in the North. The less distance means less transport costs which will also bring down prices of commodities in the peninsula. Travel to Jaffna would also now be more frequent among the Southerners due to the cut down in distance adding to the general activity.

More avenues should be sought to ease hassles in travel to the North such as cutting down on distance to get more and more people visit the peninsula. One of the choices would be expanding sea travel and exploring the possibility of using the numerous watercourses and waterways that lead to the peninsula.

This would not only be a popular mode of travel but also a tourist attraction and encourage holiday voyages to the North. People of the North who were isolated from the rest of the country for long years should be provided more and more interaction with their Southern brethren. Therefore it is vital that more and more avenues are opened to facilitate easy access to each other.

The new bridge that will now cut down travel time and minimise hassle hopefully would start a steady stream of traffic to the North. This while helping facilitate more and more interaction would also speed up the integration process.

Building bridges is also symbolic in that it signifies building bridges into the hearts and minds of the communities. The shortening of the distance to Jaffna through this new bridge also carries a symbolic message. That is the continuous narrowing of the gulf that existed between the two communities, leading to a genuine reconciliation. The new proximity also is an indicator of the desire to reach out by the two communities to one and another and cement permanent bonds.

In that context the Sangupiddy bridge stands as a sentinel in the on going unification process of the estranged communities and as a symbol of shrinking differences.


Humane gesture

The touching gesture on the part of group of soldiers to give away their own rations to some of the flood-affected civilians in Batticaloa indeed calls for the highest praise.

According to a weekend paper the Army had gone one step ahead this week in the East by giving whatever rations they had in their stocks to feed the hapless civilians in Batticaloa. This is despite a ground rule that prohibit military rations being given to civilians or outsiders. It is indeed an eye opener to those elements who demonised our soldiers during the war years accusing them of human rights abuses and other atrocities against civilians.

What more humane gesture can one think of than feeding ones fellow beings though from a different community in distress with one’s own food rations? It is also a sample of the new role assumed by the military after the war in the cause of easing the burdens of civilians even going to extent of being involved in the selling of commodities at cheap prices.

Hopefully the entrenched views by some regarding our military would undergo a radical change by such gestures of humanism.

IT for lasting peace

Sri Lanka’s progress recognized in UN ratings:

Sri Lanka has come a long way in a short time in the modernization of its public sector. Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, tells Robin Hicks that a bright future awaits a ‘smart island’ whose leaders believe in the transformative, peace-bringing powers of technology.

Full Story

The tale of poor Ben Arnoldy

Ben Arnoldy is a staff writer at the Christian Science Monitor and not someone getting something off his chess in the manner of someone writing in opinion to the editor. Staff writers are in general required to have or acquire more than a smattering of knowledge on the subjects they touch on. It is in this sense that Arnoldy’s recent piece titled ‘Sri Lanka floods provide chance for government, Tamil Tiger reconciliation’ raises questions regarding the magazine’s integrity, commitment to upholding journalistic ethics and affirming the first part of that well-known adage ‘facts are sacred, comment free’.

Full Story

Mischievous opinion and ulterior motives

Communication has been the most dominant means of influencing and shaping a society. Approximately in and around 720 BC the Greek alphabet reflected on the Greeks to mull over and acquire astuteness. Writing allows the author of a story to register what he writes in a reader’s mind exactly he intends it to be. Thus, communication media have influenced human existence from time immemorial.

Full Story

 

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