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MR treated kidney disease lightly

Parliamentarian Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera said he was appalled when former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had responded lightly to requests by several concerned individuals including him to take immediate and strict action to control the use of harmful agro chemicals in farming, responsible for raging kidney disease. "Not only he ignored our plea when the arsenic problem came up, but even resorted to blaming us at the time. He sided with agro chemical companies. Today, around 200,000 people suffering from chronic kidney disease are counting their days till death," the thera charged.

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With Lanka not meeting even half-way, PM Commonwealth visit hangs in balance

Prominent Commonwealth countries pressured India Friday to ensure Prime Minister Manmohan Singh participates in the CHOGM summit in Sri Lanka this month but Colombo's reluctance to address New Delhi's concerns about Tamils in that country may have constrained the UPA government.

Colombo's stance, it is learnt, was discussed at the Congress Core Group meeting Wednesday. The sticking points include key demands made by India, including implementation of the 13th amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution for equal rights to Tamil citizens.

With the Tamil Nadu Assembly passing a resolution for boycotting the summit and even Congress MPs from the state urging the PM not to attend, the Congress leadership is in a dilemma as this could snowball into a major issue in Tamil Nadu with general elections round the corner.

While no decision on the PM's visit has been taken yet, sources said it would have made the job easier for the UPA government had Sri Lanka shown any inclination to meet India's demands even half-way.

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UK Tamils want British monitors to oversee vote

An organisation calling itself the British Tamil Conservatives (BTC) has urged the British government to deploy election monitors in Sri Lanka ahead of the first Northern Provincial Council polls scheduled for Sept 21.

Claiming that the Sri Lankan government was holding Northern PC polls due to international pressure, the BTC asserts that a free and fair election would largely depend on the deployment of polls observers.

The group said that the forthcoming polls would give those living in the Northern Province a rare opportunity to express their aspirations for what it called self-rule.

The BTC declared its support for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) while urging the Tamil Diaspora organisations to throw their weight behind the Tamil leadership in Sri Lanka. The BTC said: "The TNA stands for the legitimate aspirations of Tamils’ self-rule and seek a political solution to a conflict that has not been resolved."

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Situation in former war zone

GL faults Pillay for turning a blind eye to UN report

Addressing the Third Defence Seminar held in Colombo yesterday, External Affairs Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris demanded to know why UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay (High Commissioner) in her statement prior to her departure from Sri Lanka, had chosen to ignore a UN report which reflected the genuine sentiments of the residents in the North. It had been compiled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), based on a survey carried out by UN officials having themselves interviewed nearly 200 people, selected by the UN itself. An overwhelming number of persons had expressed positive views about the national military, he added.

Prof. Peiris said he had personally handed over a copy of the aforesaid report to Pillay and the survey results ran counter to her unfounded allegation of sexual harassment. A significant number of persons interviewed in the survey had said they were satisfied with their security, the External Affairs Minister said.

The minister said he was constrained to refute several unwarranted sections of the statement of the Human Rights Commissioner since Sri Lanka was dismayed at her approach.

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Stormy weather leaves one dead, four injured

Stormy weather that raged across the country had killed one person and left four injured, Disaster Management Centre officials said yesterday.

Assistant Director, Pradeep Kodippili, told The Island that over 3,000 persons of 326 families countrywide had been affected by heavy rains and stormy winds which had caused earth bunds to collapse.

Around 90 houses were damaged and 15 others destroyed by the gale force winds that swept across the Batticaloa District yesterday. Around 500 persons had been affected in the district, Kodippili said, adding that stormy weather damaged around 20 houses in the Amapara District and 93 persons had been left homeless.

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President opens new world class port

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, yesterday morning, declared open the new Colombo South Port built at a cost of US$ 500 million with an Asian Development Bank loan of $300 million and the balance from the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.

With the commissioning of the new Port, by the President, its first terminal, the South terminal built by the China Merchant Holdings International, on a 30-year Build Operate and Transfer agreement, too, went into operation. Under the agreement SLPA has a 15 per cent stake in the first terminal as well.

This new expansion to the existing Port of Colombo has brought in world class facilities and with its 18-metre draft, which can handle even the biggest Triple-E Class vessels carrying 18,000 containers.

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Waliweriya Water Crisis: Devolution a farce,country run by President,Defence Secretary - Gayant

The UNP said yesterday that the Weliweriya water crisis had once again proved that the country was being run by the President and Defence Secretary, while the government paid lip service to devolution.

When the residents of Rathupaswala in Weliweriya, demonstrated last week against contamination of ground water leading to skin diseases, the army was unleashed with brutal force, which resulted in three young persons, including two schoolboys, being killed and sixty persons injured, UNP MP Gayantha Karunathillake told a news conference in Colombo.

The UPFA-run local authorities comprised a bunch of puppets, unable to resolve problems pertaining to the people they claimed to represent, as seen by the violent incidents of last week. They are now awaiting a solution that would be dictated by the President and the Defence Secretary, he noted.

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