The Vaunikulam irrigation scheme is situated between two DS Divisions
– one in Manthai East in the South of the Pali Aru river and the other
in Thunukkai. This scheme is one of the largest in Sri Lanka, irrigating
directly 6,060 acres of paddy land and another 800 acres of highland
under other crops by lift irrigation. There are about 4,000 families
depending on farming activities under this irrigation scheme.
Since 1950s the scheme was functioning successfully. After meeting
local consumption requirements surplus produce was marketed outside,
including at the Colombo Pettah Market. The people were leading
sustainable living standards till 1980s when the ethnic conflict
commenced and a period of turbulence and turmoil followed thereafter.
The situation worsened and reached its culmination in 2009 when we were
carried away to unknown areas in the Eastern side of the district,
walking for days and weeks, enduring loss of lives, possessions and
property. We were ultimately taken to a Detention Camp in Vavuniya and
kept there for some months. At the end of the war, normalcy returned and
we were brought back to our deserted home areas.
We had the feeling that we had returned under civil administration.
The irrigation, agriculture and administration authorities requested us
to recommence cultivation activities, promising that the dilapidated
irrigation systems would be repaired and rehabilitated. We learnt that
the reconstruction work had been launched with funds by the Asian
Development Bank under the name ‘Conflict Affected Rehabilitation
Emergency Project.’ The works were divided into two packages.
Rehabilitation of tank bund and components was assigned to a
contractor who commenced work in June 2011 with schedule to complete by
December 2012. The other contract, commenced in October 2011 was to be
completed by end March 2013. The entire investigation, estimation and
work supervision was carried out by the Central Engineering Consultancy
Bureau under the tutelage of the Irrigation Department.
As the tank bund works were concentrated in adjoining reaches they
took off effectively and was visibly fast. But, on the other hand the
contract for the rehabilitation of channel systems was not moving, due
to the unwieldy isolated locations spread all over the 6,060 acres with
poor access through earthen track roads or along ground paths. It is
quite understandable that a single contractor with one organized
mobilization setup cannot move about conveniently overcoming many
constraints in remote sites. As a result, the work in the canal systems
was not satisfactorily completed within the agreed period. Realizing
this debacle, the contractor wrote to the Project Director of his
inability to complete the work in time, which by April 2013 was only
33%. We came to understand that the contractor asked for mutual
termination of this contract. This caused consternation to the farmers
as to the unfinished position of the balance works. If the works were
left without completion, the repercussions would turn out to be worse
than what it was before the rehabilitation process.
In this situation the Irrigation Department subdivided the remaining
works into 26 packages each upto a maximum of 10 m rupees and
contractors were selected from a list. Out of these 11 contracts were
signed and work is going on. But for the balance 15 packages, although
contractors were selected there is a virtual stalemate of the Down
Stream Rehabilitation Works. It is not due to the farmers instance that
the entire work was given to one contractor. That was decided by the
authorities whoever it may be.
It is common knowledge that rehabilitation works cannot be completed
in one year by one contractor alone. Therefore, packaging the balance
works for re-construction appears a very pragmatic solution.
This methodology has been accepted by the Economic Development
Ministry, the Irrigation Department and the CECB Consultants but due to
some lobbying by some highly placed officials in the ADB who are
prevaricating the issues, sub-dividing the works have been frustrated
without a solution.
We, at the receiving end of these manoures, are waiting for a
sympathetic understanding of our deprived condition for several years,
without a productive cultivation and harmonized sustainable living. I
therefore fervently hope that good sensibilities would prevail to
recommence the balance down stream construction works till completion,
for us to fully involve in our normal cultivation activities.
One my friends, a senior citizen, used to transfer funds from one
account to another branch account of the same private bank, by sending a
signed transfer note. This went on smoothly for years without any
problem. On 2.5.2013 for such a fund transfer from the Maharagama
branch, a sum of Rs. 150 was charged as transfer fees. On questioning
the bank officials informed that it is a new rule imposed by the Central
Inquiries made at other banks confirmed that there is no such charge
made as transfer funds within the same bank. There is a system called
the ‘Slips transfer' to transfer funds from one bank to another. It
costs only Rs. 250/- irrespective of the amount involved, as stipulated
by the Central Bank.
This is highly unethical as it does not cost anything other than a
few commands through the computer. From a highly sophisticated ATM
withdrawal banks charge only Rs 5/- as bank charges. If a sum of Rs 5 or
10 was charged for internal transfers it may be considered reasonable.
CHARLES A. DE SILVA
A 13 year old girl from Horana was produced before the Judiciary on
grounds that she stole eight coconuts, said to be for the purpose of
finding money to be paid to the school for some development work. A 10
year old boy from the Nochchiyagama area was produced before the
Judiciary recently for stealing a toy-gun.
A lawyer from the Nochchiyagama Magistrate's Court who appeared on
behalf of this child free, at the end of the case had given him Rs. 1000
to buy any toy he liked.
It is prudent that officials and the society be more considerate and
sensitive when handling cases involving children. The Mediation Board is
the most appropriate institution which is approved by law, to look into
such cases initiated as the members of Mediation Boards are well trained
by the Ministry of Justice and the Mediation Board Commission in the
implementation of the provisions of the Mediation Board Act.
The government should levy a tax of Rs.10,000 from all candidates who
contest the Provincial Council Elections as a charge to pay the workers
who are employed to remove posters and cutouts when the elections are
over. The government should not spend public funds for this purpose as
done before. It is not correct at all to engage the Police Force to
clean parapet walls where posters are pasted. It is not the duty of the
police to do this type of work when they are entrusted to attend to more
important matters in the country.
Also the government will be able to cover up the expenditure to some
extent, if the deposits of all candidates are increased.
H.G.P. JAYASEKERA JP
Chancellor Adolf Hitler who was a talented speaker became the leader
of the National Socialist Party on 30.1.1938. At that time most Germans
were poor as it was the Jews who were controlling the trade and other
They were earning by unfair means fleecing and cheating the Germans.
Hitler wanted lands to cultivate to feed the poor Germans. This was the
main reason for him to have launched the war which erupted into WW II.
In 1938 Germans occupied Austria, which was the homeland of Hitler.
Germans had a secret Police Force called the Gestapo. It was a very
ruthless force. The second world war really started on September 1, 1939
when the Germans invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war on
Germany. The Germans finally surrendered in 1945.
Anyone who has watched the teledrama Saki Sanda Suwaris would have
noticed in it a big difference from other teledramas currently shown on
TV. The language is different, clothes are different, mannerisms are
different in fact everything is much different. There is no glamour nor
any artificiality in this teledrama. The story goes back to our colonial
times where we see an Aarachchi mahathmaya, a Vidana mahathmaya, and
also a Vederala of a different society together.
It is a great pleasure to watch the actors and actresses perform
their roles with capability and expertise. They are all seasoned artists
who need not have been tutored. I enjoy watching this teledrama over the
weekend on the Hiru Channel at 8 pm and I'm sure there are many more who
hold my view.