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CAA a poor replacement for PUCSL, says LPVSS

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Given that the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) had completely failed to control the prices of essential items; it was highly unlikely that they would be able to fill the shoes of Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), Lanka Podu Viduli Sevaka Sangamaya (LPVSS) yesterday said commenting on reports that some responsibilities of the PUCSL would be transferred to the CAA after the former’s dissolution.

Secretary of the LPVSS Kasun Boteju told The Island that the dissolution of the PUCSL would have disastrous consequences on consumers of electricity.

“The PUCSL did a relatively good job in protecting consumers. It was interested in regulating the electricity sector, which we all know is one of the most corrupt sectors. PUCSL managed to prevent the purchasing of emergency power, at high rates, on a number of occasions.”.

Boteju said there was a concerted effort by certain sections to rid the sector of a regulator. The absence of a regulator would allow the electricity mafia to sign emergency power purchase agreements at their whims and fancies.

“There are people who try to convince policymakers that the PUCSL is a hindrance to rapid implementation of power projects. This is false. When the CEB presented the generation plans, the PUCSL only objected to a few projects, but some members of the CEB used it as an excuse not to carry out any project. One must wonder why this is. Why are certain projects so important to certain officials?”

He said that although the government wanted to dissolve the PUCSL, it had also not provided an alternative. The electricity sector, like other utilities, needed a regulator to prevent a few senior officials, businessmen and politicians from making disastrous deals whose burden will be passed on to customers, while they amass massive wealth, Boteju said.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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