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Crocodile threats to visitors of Wetland Park, Nugegoda



It was only a few days ago that two TV channels gave a live cover of how a man was being dragged into the water in the Diyawanna Park, and the victim was reported to be a 40-year-old resident of Rajagiriya. It is suspected that crocodiles have invaded Wetland water streams, too, using the unhindered canals connected to Diyawanna Oya.

These crocodiles are visibly seen all hours of the day at the end of the Wetland Park, popularly known as the Weli Park, especially right around the children’s park and the calamity to human life is unavoidable, if the crocodiles are not relocated from the water streams surrounding the park at the earliest opportunity. These young crocodiles would inevitably breed more, using the ideal conducive environment available for them, thus creating more threats to the visitors in the years to come.

These young crocodiles have a routine habit of enjoying a sunbath on the banks of the walking paths in the morning hours, according to visitors. These creatures are a protected species in the country according to the Flora and Fauna Act, and the visitors and highly populated families living along the banks would resort to retaliate in a harmful manner, if any major calamity takes place.

The children are the more vulnerable group to be affected, and the parents should exercise more vigilance to protect their children. In addition to children, I have seen some visitors sitting, lying down or relaxing. Some practice meditation like yoga. This is the time when there is no attention, and one could get attacked by the creatures. Nobody can tell, or predict when such events could happen. Some parents have a bad habit of leaving the children in the children’s playground and going for jogging, exposing the children to a huge risk. The situation is more precarious when there is no electricity at night due to breakdowns. The whole area was in full darkness during the last two Saturdays, as the CEB had restored power supply well after 2000hrs after a breakdown.

It is a matter of solace that the area surrounding the children park is fenced, restricting the movements of these crocodiles and monitors, but they have ample access to encroach on the children park through other means, as the rest of the walking paths are not well secured and protected.

Various birds have come to make this park their habitat. Some are exotic species bred after spending money. Crocodiles can easily eliminate them. It was a common sight of innocent local species of monitors (kabaragoya) swimming in the water or walking on the embankment of the children park, sometimes even crossing the track just in front of you. Not everybody knows how to differentiate them from crocodiles, and children or the elderly might ignorantly walk by the side of a crocodile.

The safety aspects, cleanliness, standard of discipline, etc., of the park have seen a visible deterioration during the last few months, and involvement of the multiplicity authorities is the bane for this sorry state of affairs. It is the task of the Sri Lanka Navy to maintain the entrance area, which is maintained meticulously. The Low Lying and Land Reclamation Board is in charge of the cleanliness of the rest of the park. The Urban Development Authority has the overall administrative authority. The Kotte Municipality is entrusted with the removal of garbage. The rationale for having multiple players is not a good management strategy, and there could be a situation where responsibilities cannot be pinpointed, if there is a breach of standards. The erection of the name board regarding the parking of the vehicles inside the park, stands to be corrected, as it gives totally two different meanings, despite the wide publicity given in the papers a few moons ago.

Sound management system is sine-qua-non for the smooth functioning of an organisation, without overlapping duties, and these administrative lapses need to be straightened out as a matter of high priority.


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Russian Ambassador clarifies



Comparing special military operation in Ukraine with the presence of the limited contingent of the Soviet Army in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan is not correct. If the author of the article “‘Containment Theory’ returns to West’s ties with East” in The Island of 18 May does some serious research of the pre-military period of the conflict in Afghanistan, he will discover that the Soviet Army was invited to Afghanistan by the legitimate government formed by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan. It was not an invasion. Our soldiers fulfilled their international duty and did so with dignity.

Instead of disturbing the memories of our fallen soldiers, the author, I guess, should inform his readers why Americans, who occupied Afghanistan for 20 years, didn’t reach any positive results outside Kabul? Why didn’t they create at list one new facility to improve the life of the citizens of one of the poorest countries in Asia? Why after their disgraceful defeat they even didn’t do anything to help those people who trusted them? Why the production of opium increased several times? There are no answers. Only silence on the part of the State Department and Pentagon.

Let the author explain, as well, what were the reasons of American failure in Iraq. By the way, was that invasion endorsed by UN Security Council?

During the Soviet1 military presence in Afghanistan soldiers not only from Russia, but also from Ukraine, Baltic States, Caucasus and other parts of the USSR fulfilled their international duty.

Now we are fighting for our future. The tragedy of the current conflict is that Ukraine and the Ukrainian people have been turned into an instrument of Western policy to destabilise Russia. The great hate, a real hysteria was created from the time of illegal coup-d’etat in 2014. We are two parts of one people, and the West did its best, as usual, in making split.

The special military operation is not aimed against civilians in Ukraine. The goal is to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes. After the referendums, held in accordance with the International law, Ukraine must recognize that these regions are integral part of Russia. This operation will last till all its aims mentioned by our President Vladimir Putin are reached. Our cause is just, and we will win. No doubt!


Ambassador to Russia in Colombo

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‘Unworthy worthies’, ‘dishonourable honourables’



The recent detection of gold and Smart phones in the personal luggage of a Smuggler- MP returnee from Dubai has raised several issues. The elevation of the status of Smugglers, Political interference in legal process, entitlement to VIP Lounge, exemptions from Customs checks, breach of procedures in determining the size of fines by Customs and money laundering.

Two matters are of interest. (a) who are entitled to “Diplomatic Passports and the associated privileges (including the VIP Lounge and exemption from personal Customs and Immigration formalities,) and (b) Penalties imposed by Customs on persons detected while attempting to smuggle dutiable goods.

In a recent instance, Ali Sabry Raheem, MP from Puttalam District, was detected attempting to smuggle in 3.5 Kilograms of gold and a large number of fancy mobile phones, together valued at some Rs 78 million. It is on record that he sought interference by several powerful authorities (including The Speaker of Parliament), to extricate himself. Having failed, the Customs confiscated the booty and imposed a fine of Rs 7.4 million, which was promptly paid. One understands that in such cases, the stipulated fine is three times the estimated value, while here it was even less than even one-tenth of the value of contraband. Why? The feeble tale that the contraband belonged to someone else, a fellow passenger, should alert the sleuths to follow this trail. The alacrity with which with the fine was paid suggests that such handy “ready cash”, points to previous undetected instances, How often has this intrepid traveler been abroad lately? The “Icing on the cake” is that this man left for Dubai, just three days later, to Dubai! VIP departure lounge charges, and perhaps even his airfare may have been met the State? Nothing surprises us anymore.

Clearly our Government has been less than conscientious in the issue of “Diplomatic or Official” Passports. The most scandalous instance was when Karuna Amman (Karuna of the LTTE), defected and was promptly appointed a Minister, and travelled to the UK, presumably on a Diplomatic Passport but had to spend a fortnight in prison, for overstaying his visa. A sad reflection on the discretion of the State’s exercise of a privilege.

Immunity does not imply impunity.

“Nettle Grub”

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An appreciation: Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala



I was saddened to learn that our friend and Sri Lanka’s prominent diplomat Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala has quietly closed the door of life and departed from us. To me, a sorrow that is deep and personal. I have known Jayantha since we were two of three finalists for the Herald Tribune essay contest for a traveling scholarship to the United States in the late 1950s; he from Trinity, and I from Richmond, and he won out. Since then, he never stopped shining on the international stage, culminating in his narrow loss in the competition for the Secretary General of the United States post.

In the meantime, he had served Sri Lanka as a foreign service member in countless capitals and as Ambassador to India, China, the United States and the United Nations, and Washington. He also served as Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Department of Disarmament, during which he led the U.N. team to investigate the nuclear sites in Iraq just before the Iraqi war and later headed the U.N. Institute of Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

I had the privilege of working closely with him on joint U.N. projects and traveling to various cities, including Ulan Bator, Mongolia, during which we nearly escaped an airline disaster over the then-Soviet Union. Whether it was in the course of official work or the relaxed evenings we spent after a full day of work, it was highly congenial to be in his company. At work, he knew the art of negotiation of being firm while being most congenial, no mean talent that took him to the summit of international diplomacy. He also served Sri Lanka as Foreign Secretary, Head of the Peace Secretariat, and finally as Senior Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka. Few Sri Lankans have ever reached those dizzy heights.

The loss of my friend profoundly saddens me, and I join the diplomatic world that will mourn the death of a diplomat par excellence and a Gentleman to the hilt who served Mother Lanka well! Adlai Stevenson, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, once commented about a man and his contribution: “It is not the years in a life that counts; it is the life in the years.” By that measure, Jayantha Dhanapala is a shining star that lived! We will miss him, and may he find peace!

Nandasiri (Nandi)Jasentuliyana
Former Deputy Director-General, United Nations & Director U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs.

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