Easter Sunday probe:
By Rathindra Kuruwita
There was no uniform policy on compensating those killed or injured in terror attacks or riots and political influence had help those affected by riots in Digana and Beruwala receive higher compensation than the victims of Easter Sunday attacks, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Sunday attacks was informed yesterday.
Acting Director of the Office of Reparations S. M. Bathiudeen told the PCoI that one million rupees each had been paid for the persons killed during the Easter Sunday attacks. However, two million rupees each had been paid for those killed during the anti-Muslim riots in Digana and Beruwala, he said.
“We have received 220 applications from families of those killed during the Easter Sunday attacks. Rs. 220 million was paid to these individuals. The Cabinet also decided to pay a maximum of Rs. 500,000 to those who were injured. Rs. 86 million was paid to 506 applicants. There was also a cap of Rs. 5 million for properties that were damaged.”
The families of those who died during the Digana and Beruwala riots were paid Rs. 2 million each and there was no cap as regards damages caused to properties.
Bathiudeen said: “There was a meeting at the Kandy Kachcheri after the Digana riots. The then PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, Ministers Rauff Hakeem and Lakshman Kiriella and Kandy MPs were present. They decided on the amounts to be paid. Those who were injured at Digana were also compensated without medical reports.”
Bathiudeen said that people frequently asked him why they had been paid less than others who had been in a similar situation. The amount to be paid was not decided by the Office of Reparations, but by politicians. It was unfair that only Rs. 100,000 each was paid for those killed in the North.
“We don’t decide on the figures. We are not even asked. We are sent Cabinet papers and we implement them,” Bathiudeen said.
Bathiudeen was then cross-examined by Shamil Perera, PC, who represents the Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.
Shamil Perera: “How much was an injured person to be paid?”
Bathiudeen: “The Cabinet decided to put a cap of Rs. 500,000 as regards the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks. But people were paid less based on medical reports. We judged the effect of these injuries would have on his or her earning capacity.”
Perera PC: “You said that 280 injured persons of the blast at Katuwapitiya Church were compensated. However only 32 victims have received Rs. 500,000. Meanwhile 147 people, the overwhelming majority, received only Rs. 50,000 each. At Kochchikade 102 were injured. Only 13 victims received Rs. 500,000 each. Meanwhile 40 people received only Rs. 50,000 each. Did you know that these people had serious injuries”
Perera PC: “Many people had to undergo surgeries. Is Rs. 500,000 enough for a surgery?’
Bathiudeen: “It’s true. The Cabinet took this decision”.
Perera PC: “Do you know that the Catholic Church paid for the surgeries?”
Perera PC: “You said that those who died at Digana and Beruwala received higher amounts due to political influence.”
Bathiudeen: “As I said the numbers were agreed upon during the meeting at the Kandy Kachcheri. The then Minister of Rehabilitation D. M. Swaminathan prepared the first draft. The Finance Ministry headed by then PM Ranil Wickremesinghe then amended the Cabinet paper.”
A Commissioner: “Politicians didn’t try to increase compensation for Easter Sunday attack victims?”
Bathiudeen: “Politicians on different occasions decide on various numbers.”
Perera, PC: “Do you agree that the compensation paid to Easter Sunday attack victims is not enough?”
Bathiudeen: “The amount is less than what was paid to the victims in Digana and Beruwala.”
Prez to unveil plan on 13 A
SJB, SLPP rebels to boycott opening of new parliamentary session
By Saman Indrajith
The main Opposition party, the SJB, and the dissident SLPP MPs have decided to boycott the ceremonial opening of the Fourth session of the Ninth Parliament by President Ranil Wickremessinghe today.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe declared, on January 26, that he would brief Parliament on his decision to implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution fully.
MP Prof G.L. Peiris told the media that the FPC would boycott President Wickremesinghe’s speech, scheduled to take place today (08) when the Fourth session of the Parliament is ceremonially declared open.
Prof Peiris called the ceremonial opening of the new parliamentary session a mere show. “This is not acceptable. The people are fed up with policy statements. They need solutions instead,” he said.
Chief Opposition Whip and SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, addressing a press conference, at the Opposition Leader’s office in Colombo yesterday said that his party members too would boycott today’s ceremony.
Kiriella said that President Wickremesinghe was now speaking of economic development in 2048. “This he is promising to do while doing everything possible under the sun and the moon to deprive people of their democratic right to an election. Therefore, we have decided not to attend President’s ceremonial treading of the government policy statement which is another example of this makeshift government’s predilection for waste of money and time.”
All Ceylon Tamil Congress, led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, too, has decided to boycott today’s sessions.
TNA spokesman, Jaffna District MP MA Sumanthiran, said that his party would attend Parliament sessions today.
Political party sources said that TNA, JVP, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and All Ceylon Makkal Congress, in the Opposition ranks, however, would attend Parliament today.
Following the ceremonial opening of the day’s session, the President is scheduled to present the Statement of Government Policy in Parliament, at 10 am, according to the powers vested in him, under Article 33 of the Constitution.
A rehearsal for the ceremonial opening was held Monday at the Parliament premises where many, including students of Presidents’ Girls College, Kotte, were present.
MSC America belonging to largest shipping line calls at ECT
MSC America, the first container vessel under the business promotions programme to attract new lines to the Port of Colombo (POC), called at the East Container Terminal (ECT), owned by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority yesterday (07).
The latest programme to attract new shipping lines to the POC has been planned and implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT), South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT), Ceylon Association of Shipping Agents (CASA) and Sri Lanka Association of Vessel Owners (SLAVO) to effectively address strategic business promotions as a fruitful mean to overcome the prevailing economic crisis. Attracting more new lines to the POC, increasing operational efficiency, expediting naval services, efficiency in logistics and warehouse management and container and cargo transportation are among the objectives.
MSC America that called at the ECT, owned by the POC, will hereafter operate a weekly call to Colombo.
On the first call, yesterday, the vessel carried 2300TEUs to Colombo and is expected to carry 2500TEUs on a weekly basis. The vessel, with a length of 334m and a 7.5m draft, sails under the flag of Panama. The port rotation includes Singapore and South Africa.
MSC is the largest global shipping line, with a fleet of more than 775 TEU vessels for container transportation around the world. The shipping line that maintains long term operations with the POC has a collaborative business relationship of more than 10 years with SLPA. Since 2015, it is the prime shipping line of the POC with an annual operational capacity of 2.0m TEUs. It performs about 900 calls per annum at the POC.
The deep draft vessels, owned by MSC, call at the CICT of the POC, whilst calling the SLPA controlled JCT and ECT with more than 1.0m TEUS per annum, becoming the main customer of the SLPA.
According to MSC Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd., the local agents for MSC shipping lines, another new three shipping lines, under INGWE West Bound service, East Africa Express service and East Med Service, will be calling this month at the POC.
To mark MSC America’s first call at the POC, a special plaque exchange was held at the ECT of the SLPA between Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva, and the Master of the vessel, Capt. Matlin Alexander. Chairman of SLPA, Keith D Bernard, and several representatives of MSC Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd., also attended the occasion.
Expressing views at the occasion Minister de Silva said:
“With the deep draft of the East Container Terminal, there is ample potential for mega vessels to call at the port. The remaining development process of the terminal is expedited with an investment of Rs.5.9 billion. Today, a mega vessel of the MSC has contributed for container operations via the Port of Colombo. Similarly four new services will be added to increase the capacity of the POC. That will increase our revenue. This has further strengthened the credibility placed by the international shipping community on the Port of Colombo.”
Remembering Upali Wijewardene, the founder of Upali Group
The Upali Group of Companies, its employees, and sales agents countrywide, have made arrangements to invoke blessings on its founder, Upali Wijewardene, who disappeared in his Learjet, 40 years ago. Bodhi Pooja, Pahan Pooja and an alms-giving will be held, in his memory, on Feb. 13 (Monday).
A special Bodhi Pooja will be held at the Kelani Raja Maha Viharaya, at 6 p.m. on February 13 with the blessings of Prof. Ven. Kollupitiye Mahinda Sangarakkhitha Thera, the Chief Incumbent of Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya.
Arrangements have been made to offer alms to the Maha Sangha at the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya, and scholarships to 10 needy children, from the Helena Wijewardene Maha Vidyalaya, Kelaniya.
Alms-giving to the inmates of the Home for the Elders at Mulgampola, Kandy, Bodhi Pooja Pinkama and Kavi Bana Pinkama, from 4.30 p.m. onwards, at the Ceylon Chocolates factory premises.
Bodhipooja, Pahan Pooja and Kavibana deshana will be held at Vidya Niketha Piriven Viharaya, Sapugoda Kamburupitiya.
The employees of Upali Consumer Products have arranged an alms-giving lunch at the ‘Children’s Home’ at Ja-Ela.
Founder’s Day Programme on February 13, 2023.
9.00 a.m. – Holy Mass at Mattakkuliya Church.
10.00 a.m. – Offering of Buddhapooja at the ‘Dhathumandiriya’.
10.30 a.m. – Scholarships to 10 needy children from Helena Wijewardene Maha Vidyalaya, Kelaniya.
11.30 a.m. – Alms-giving for the Maha Sangha at Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya.
12 noon – Providing lunch for the Children’s Home, Ja-Ela, organized by the employees of Upali Trading Co. Ltd.
5.15 p.m. – Offering Gilanpasapooja (permissible drinks) for Dhathumandiraya.
6.00 p.m. – Bodhi Pooja and Pahan Pooja at Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya.
All these pinkamas (meritorious acts) are organized by Upali Group employees and newspaper, Kandos/Delta and soap agents.
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