The US Embassy in Sri Lanka invited applications for the Diversity
Immigration Visa (DV) Programme in 2011. At that time the required
educational qualification was the successful completion of 12 years
elelmentary and secondary education (which is qualifying the GCE O/L in
six subjects) or two years work experience. The US Embassy in Sri Lanka
conducted several promotional campaigns all over the country inducing
applicants for this DV lottery programme. The Embassy has now informed
the lucky winners to call over on given dates for interviews to issue
Although thousands of Sri Lankans applied only 801 were selected. The
selectees used the embassy websites to prepare the required reports such
as medical, police, educational etc. to be submitted at the visa
interviews. For this purpose, they had to incur much cost. At no stage
was there any requirement of the GCE (A/L) stipulated in the embassy
website. Prior notice for the visa interviews were also not provided.
However, a sudden decision made by the US Embassy officials in Colombo
requesting for three passes at the GCE (A /L) at the time of visa
interviews has caused applicants to lose their opportunities and
expectations for emigration.
According to the programme, the winners are entitled to take along
their family members. Some family members who are well educated stand to
lose their opportunities, due to this unexpected and unfair decision.
Applications were called for the lottery programme in 2001 based on a
12 year successful completion of education equivalent to GCE (O/L) and
the sudden change in decision is unfair to the selectees. It would be
justifiable if the GCE (A/L) requirement was announced at the time of
calling applications in 2011. Those selected therefore request the
Embassy to grant visas to those with GCE (O/L) qualifications as
advertised in 2011 in this lottery in this instance. The selectees
expect a favourable solution to this issue from the US Embassy of Sri
Lanka as they have become victims of this sudden decision.
Selectees who lost chances
Since the end of the war in 2009 when restrictions on fishing in the
Northern seas were lifted by the Sri Lankan government, clashes between
Sri Lankan fishermen in the North and their Tamil Nadu counterparts
operating in the Palk Strait and Gulf of Mannar has been frequently
reported in the media. Newspapers occasionally have carried reports of
fishermen from either side being arrested in each others territorial
waters and jailed for weeks, months and in some cases even for over a
year until their release following state intervention.
It is common knowledge that fishing in the Bay of Bengal is shared by
five countries namely, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Maldives, Pakistan
Each country has limitations or maritime boundaries called Exclusive
Economic Zones (EEZ). When the boundaries or zones are positioned close
to land, it paves the way for clashes between fishermen. Sri Lanka and
India are experiencing such a situation, especially in the North and the
According to recent media reports, on a rough estimate 600 Indian
vessels illegally fish in Sri Lanka's maritime boundaries at any given
time, although the need to respect the international maritime boundaries
has been stressed by Sri Lankan authorities.
It is said that the Indians have more than 5,000 trawlers and use
sophisticated hi-tech fishing gear compared to the small fleet of mostly
day-fishing boats used by Sri Lankan fishermen from Jaffna and Mannar.
The use of hi-tech gear also leads to over exploitation of fisheries
resources in the Bay of Bengal maritime eco-system. It need not be said
that the degradation of the eco-system could deplete the catch of
fishermen from all the five countries which share the area.
To overcome this problem, the Ministry of Fisheries should initiate
action to stop poaching, with a programme integrating a vessel
monitoring system. Since technology has developed in Sri Lanka this
could be easily done at a low cost, adopting the expertise knowledge of
the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation of Moratuwa. A satellite based system
could be implemented to monitor, control and also for the surveillance
of all fishing vessels in the Northern seas. There should also be a
fisheries management protection programme for the betterment of the
Harshi Nadie Perera - Piliyandala
The controversy over the issue of Halal Certificate issued by ACJU,
which many would have thought was vexed, met with an amicable solution,
after the deliberations with all the stakeholders including the leading
members of the Budhdhist clergy and the Ulemas.
It was no doubt a win-win situation for all concerned. Hats off to
Ven Bellanwila Wimalarathna Thera, Ven Welamitiyawe Kusaladhamma Thera,
Ven Brahmanawatte Sivali Thera, Ven Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera, Ven
Iththapane Dhammalankara Thera and ACJU President M I M Rizvi and all
other priests for their untiring efforts for finding a way out of the
This letter is to suggest that this should be the way forward if any
ethnic crisis does arise in the future. Protest marches and/or any other
forms of vilification campaigns need not be resorted to in the future.
Then Sri Lanka will be a role model to be followed by other countries in
ethnic crisis management.
Mohamed Zahran Colombo 3.
For about five decades, office trains have been running 'classless'
on the orders of the then Transport Minister Anil Moonesinghe made on
the request of the GCSU, a powerful trade union at that time. I joined
the Railway Department in 1951 and travelled from Ambalangoda from 1959
until I retired in 1986. During that time, our office train to Maradana
was provided with two Second Class compartments as we were entitled to
second class travel.
During the mid sixties a change took place on the instructions of the
then Transport Minister. Since then, this practice continued till of
late when new Power Coach sets were imported from India and China, where
some bogies were provided for second class passengers.
I saw a TV news item in which the Samudra Devi office train had been
provided with a new Power Coach set where some bogies provided were
Second Class. This train had replaced the former Samudra Devi which
operated as a 'Classless Train' during the lsst few years. Since the
daily travellers by Samudra Devi were used to travel in any compartment,
as it was classified as a 'classless train' the Railway Protection Force
Officers had found fault with the travellers who were in the new second
class bogie in the Samudra Devi, for no fault of theirs.
The Railway management should be held responsible for scheduling this
new Power Set for an office train. For all these years, this train ran
without any Second Class bogie attached to the former set. The Railway
Security Officers may not have been aware that all office trains which
operate in the mornings and evenings for about five decades now, are
treated as 'Classless Trains'. I hope the GMR and the Operating
Superintendents will look into this matter early and do the needful
One has to walk quite a long distance to reach George Pieris Mawatha,
Colombo 15, off Fergusons Road, or any other location in the vicinity
whether when one approaches it either from Rasamunakande or from Nagalam
Street in Thotalanga, as there are no buses plying on this road causing
lot of inconvenience not only to those residing in this area but also to
those who come to visit residents.
This is to request the Minister of Transport, to provide a regular
bus service which according to long time residents from this area was
available some time back. I would like to draw the attention of the
Minister to the following places of worship and other institutions
located on this road.
Kelani Nadee Viharaya, a mosque cum seminary, Keells housing complex,
Gethsamane Bible Church, 12 Bn.
the Gemunu Watch Army Camp, Mattakkuliya Baptist Church, Christian
Door of Relief Prayer Centre and in close proximity are the Ceylon
Pentecostal Mission and HNDE Institution, to name a few.
Either a few buses could run a short distance along this
Fergusons-Nagalam Street Road and if it is not cost effective or not
feasible, the other option, I could think of is to let the existing
buses on Route Numbers 155 (Mattakkuliya-Ratmalana), 178 (Mattakkuliya-Narahenpita),
145 (Matakkuliya-Fort) to cover this stretch of road at least to some
extent to ease the hardship faced by the residents in their daily
I hope that the transport authorities will make arrangements to
provide this much needed transport facility.