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COPE expresses concern about NHDA performance



COPE meeting in progress


A probe by COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) has found that Rs. 583 million was paid 3,700 persons recruited as trainees to the National Housing Development Authority without assigning them proper duties while incumbent Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa was the Housing Minister during the Yahapalana government, Parliament sources said yesterday.

Those persons had been recruited to the NHDA during the period 2017-2019, it was revealed at the probe.

At the COPE meeting, MP Premnath C Dolawatta raised questions regarding the trainees. Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera said the trainees had not even been assigned proper duties.

The COPE meeting convened to examine the performance of the NHDA was attended by Ministers Mahinda Amaraweera, State Ministers Susil Premajayantha, D.V Chanaka and Indika Anuruddha, MPs Eran Wickramaratne, Harsha de Silva, Jagath Pushpakumara, Premanath C Dolawatta and S. Rasamanikkam.

It was revealed at the meeting that there had been 688 vacancies in the NHDA, as at May 31, this year and Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Charitha Herath instructed the Authority to work with the Department of Management Services to fill them as early as possible. It was found that there were 154 vacancies at the top management level of the NHDA.

Prof. Herath directed the Secretary to the State Ministry of Rural Housing and Construction and Building Material Industries Promotion Keerthi Ranjith Abeysiriwardena, to submit a report on the situation to the COPE within one month.

The COPE paid special attention to the failure to table the NHDA annual reports to Parliament properly. It also took up the failure to include the Annual Procurement Plan, the Human Resource Development Plan and the Internal Audit Plan that should be included in the Annual Action Plan of the Authority.

Although the NHDA had initially asked to submit a report on the Janasevana One Million Housing Project to the Committee within a month, its directive had not been carried out, the COPE said.

The COPE Chairman further stated that the public property as regards 1,351 housing projects had not yet been transferred to the local government institutions. It was a serious situation, he said.

Although an agreement had been reached with a private party to construct houses and develop a block of land encompassing one acre 26.5 perched at Darley Road, Colombo, it had been sold to the relevant private company in 2016 at the 2006 contracted price of Rs. 812 million without any development work being done. The NHDA informed the COPE that legal action would be taken to acquire the land expeditiously.

The COPE paid attention to the fact that the debt collection progress of NHDA was at a minimum level.

The COPE instructed Secretary to the State Ministry of Rural Housing and Construction & Building Material Industries Promotion to take appropriate action to resolve the administrative issues of the NHDA.

According to the financial statements of the year 2020, the amount due to the Sevana Media Unit of the Authority was Rs. 68 million and the COPE Chairman informed the Authority to take an immediate action in this regard.



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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused



By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.



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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas



By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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