Monday, December 02, 2013
The Oluvil Port Project, considered as a futile venture, is to be ‘opened’ next month. Despite the fact that this project has cost the country’s tax payers a colossal amount of money amounting to Euro 46.1 million, it is now said that only ships that carry cargo up to 10,000 tons can enter the port, which, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) employees say is a ‘real joke’.
“In order to extend his support to Kumaranatunge, Ashroff demanded a port to Oluvil and the Ports Minister portfolio to which the President agreed. This was initiated in mid 1990s but the work is still going on without any progress but spending the loan money lavishly,” added Mahagamage.
He further queried as to how a port could start operational work if there are no cranes. “If a ship comes with the load of cargo how can they off load them without cranes.”
Meanwhile, Udeni Kalutantri, Secretary of the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya Ports Authority branch said that Oluvil port has been identified as an election port.
N. J. Bose, president of the Rameswaram Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, told The Sunday Leader that fishermen in southern India continued to protest last week over the Sri Lankan fishing issue and over 1,000 boats had not gone out to sea.
“The issue has still not been resolved.
Talks which were proposed to take place with fishermen in Sri Lanka have not happened. We are waiting for the Tamil Nadu government to do something about this as it is affecting hundreds of fishermen in the state,” he said. The “issue” Bose is talking about is Indian fishermen being arrested when they allegedly cross into Sri Lankan waters to catch fish.
V. Vivekanandan, an adviser to the South Indian Federation of Fishermen, who had in 2010 taken part in talks with Sri Lanka to resolve the fishing issue, told The Sunday Leader that Tamil Nadu politics is now beginning to override the actual situation. He also feels an ‘open seas’ solution may not work as Tamil Nadu fishermen have more sophisticated fishing equipment and bigger boats compared to fishermen in Jaffna, and so such a solution will favour Tamil Nadu fishermen.
Vivekanandan however noted that the situation is fairly serious as the dialogue had stalled and there was no progress on reaching an acceptable solution.
Vivekanandan said he felt the Sri Lankan government was taking “token action” when dealing with Indian fishermen who enter Sri Lankan waters as a result of its strong diplomatic ties with India. He added that the situation was very complex as Tamil Nadu politicians were making the fishing issue political. “As far as Tamil Nadu politics is concerned they cannot separate the fishermen issue and that can be dangerous. The actual problem is getting lost in the Tamil ethnic issue,” he said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and DMK President and former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi issued statements on the fishermen issue in a bid to outdo each other. Vivekanandan admits that the Jaffna fishermen are those who suffer the most from this as it is their livelihood that will get affected when Indians take their fish. He said slowly but surely even most Indians are beginning to realise this and would like to see both sides benefit and not just one party. “The underlying solution will need to be one where there is equitable sharing of resources. It must be fair on both sides. It also must be a multi agreement solution and not one where one deal is signed and that’s it,” he said.
He also said that there was no progress on the proposed talks between fishermen from both countries, and the delay allowed Indian fishermen to continue to poach in Sri Lankan waters.
Indian fishermen had last month received an invite to visit Sri Lanka and hold talks with their Sri Lankan counterparts. They received a letter from a Sri Lankan official who acted as the translator of Minister Basil Rajapaksa when he had visited New Delhi last month. The meetings were to take place from August 1 to 7, but were called off as the Indians wanted the Tamil Nadu government to get involved and organize the tour – and that is yet to happen.
Source:The Sunday Leader
Instead of doing so, they too are working in certain underhand deals with the CFHC and that is why the Ministry has failed to take any action against the corrupt officials,” a senior ministry official said on basis of anonymity.
Meanwhile, Chairman CFHC Upali Liyanage has come under severe criticism for all the irregularities taking place over the years and for bypassing government directives.
“In a letter dated December 31, 2010 to all Ministry Secretaries, Public Administration and Home Affairs Ministry Secretary P. B. Abeykoon wanted not to make new recruitments for any temporary, casual, substitute, contract and relief basis posts. Deviating from instructions of the Management Services Department of the General Treasury, Chairman Liyanage appointed a Legal Consultant on contract basis on February 23, 2012 for three months and it was later extended for a further three months on May 27, 2012. He is still functioning as the Legal Consultant to the CFHC although he is now over 60 years of age,” said the sources.
The Corporation is also accused of giving fuel to the amount of Rs.7. 29 million on credit to fishing boats although this has been barred for a longer period. This fuel has been given for political stooges and has failed to recover the amount for the past one year,” added the sources.
According to an audit query dated June 5, 2013 CFHC has failed to recover Rs.5. 29 million in the form of rent from the CFHC properties that has been leased out.
Calling for clarifications from the CFHC, the audit query states as thus, “Although there are three legal officers including the Legal Consultant at CFHC, they have failed to take any remedy to recover the rents over the years.
Although this has been emphasized on earlier audit queries as well, the CFHC management has failed to take any action to recover the same”.
“It is the COPE that will decide on them. I am unable to answer your questions as I am not aware of most of these things as I assumed duties in this ministry only three months earlier,” he said.
Meanwhile, refuting allegations Chairman CFHC Upali Liyanage said that there is no wrong in getting delayed to answer the audit queries as it is not done purposely.
“I know I am responsible for all these but what can we do when they are not paying us,” he added.
Responding as to why his corporation has footed the fuel bill for three Fisheries Ministry vehicles, Liyanage said that CFHC is not at fault for this accusation.
The growing loans and debt that the people are descending into is reaching a sum that these former IDPs cannot repay. Indumani related an incident in which the bank manager’s henchmen had beaten her father, threatening and demanding that they repay the loan they had drawn without further delay.
Kalaivani (39) is Indumani’s neighbour, and she experiences similar issues. “In order for us to get the third part of the funds, we were told we needed to fix doors and grills in the house so thieves cannot break in. The wood specified is cheap wood called chappu, which is very flimsy and any thief can easily break it down. Their specifications are also only for grills. There is no mention of windows.”
Source: The Sunday Leader
Ravi Karunanayake, United National Party MP
J. C. Weliamuna,
The problem with the government is that they have a credibility gap. They often do one thing and say something else to the international audience. They should realize by now that they would not be able to fool or mislead the international audience, or the educated mass of the country for that matter. It is now time for the government to make a genuine attempt to address these issues.———————————————————–
Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of Center for Policy Alternatives
R. Sampanthan, Leader of Tamil National Alliance and MP