By Dr Janaka Ratnasiri
I thank Eng. Anton Nanayakkara (AN)’s write-up in The Island of 28.07.2020, responding to my article on Flood Protection of Colombo Metropolitan Region which appeared in The Island of 21.07.2020. The main purpose of my article was to highlight the fact that the government after getting Japanese Consultants to formulate a Master Plan for flood protection of Colombo Metro Region at great cost, what is being implemented as a priority project is only a clean-up of the Weras Ganga basin, making a mockery of the word Master Plan. This area is totally outside the Greater Colombo area with no impact on its flooding. AN has failed to comment on this issue.
METRO COLOMBO URBAN DEVELOPMENT
With the failure of the Master Plan to address the flood situation within the city and its suburbs, Sri Lanka Land Development Corporation (SLLDC) has taken the initiative to develop a separate project titled Metro Colombo Urban Development Project (MCUDP) to address this issue. This project expected to be executed during 2012 – 2020 is estimated to cost USD 104 Million (SLLDC Website). It will address flood mitigation in areas covered by the Colombo Municipal Council, Sri Jayewardenapura, Battaramulla, Rajagiriya, Madiwela and Dehiwala. Activities described under “Improvements to existing drainage systems” in my previous article of July 21st were in fact carried out by SLLDC under this project.
COMMENTS ON ENG. NANAYAKKARA’S
In his response, AN has made certain remarks on some statements appearing in my article and questions their validity. What I have said are totally based on material extracted from other sources including the JICA reports and the website of the SLLDC and not my own suggestions. It appears that AN seems to be unaware of the latest situation in this regard, and hence they need clarification. My comments are given against each of AN’s statements which are given below using material extracted from SLLDC website – Special Projects pages.
1. “The Madiwela East Diversion (MED), remaining dry most of the time, as mentioned, may be due to its wrong location, too far upstream of the Kelani Ganga about 10 miles above the historic Nagalagam Street outfall”.
COMMENT: MED was established by constructing a new canal from the Thalangama Tank up to the origin of the existing natural canal flowing through Malabe paddy fields parallel to Chandrika Kumarathunga Mawatha. It has its natural outfall at Ambatale. The topography of the area does not permit shifting of this outfall further downstream.
2. “Even during floods of the Kelani Ganga, this outfall No 1 (See plan) has to be closed, long before Nagalagam Street outfall closing at +5.00 ft MSL, the accepted minor flood level for Colombo, negating the very purpose for which this canal was built”.
COMMENT: The SLLDC is currently building a pumping station at Ambatale across the MED canal to pump water to the river when its water level rises during heavy rainfall, at a cost of USD 5.85 Million and LKR 1,181 Million (SLLRDC website).
3. “The learned doctor has not noticed the extent to which the Thalangama Tank had silted up, reducing the capacity to retain flood water (about 50 ac.ft) entering the Parliament lake”.
COMMENT: In a project carried out by the SLLDC during 2016 – 2018, the tank was dredged to increase its water holding capacity and remove unnecessary growth on the tank bund, at a cost of LKR 107 million. In any case, I wonder how even a professional hydrologist could notice the extent of silting of the tank just by looking at it.
4. “This gate was constructed at ID’s flood control premises to pump water from the Kelani Ganga to the Beira Lake, for the purpose of cleaning the lake. The project ceased soon after the flood. Strangely, no inquiry was made. It was all swept under the carpet”.
COMMENT: According the SLLDC website, it has built three gates across Kolonnawa Canal, Heen Ela and St. Sebastian canal at the crossing of New Kelani Bridge Road to isolate the canal system enabling water to be pumped back into the canal system from the river by operating the pumps installed at St. Sebastian outfall in the reverse direction. This work to be carried out during 2018 – 2020 is estimated to cost of USD 5.85 million and LKR 1181 million. So, it is not a case of sweeping under the carpet.
5. “Dr. R’s reference to the Beira Lake, too, needs some clarifications. The Beira Lake is not a natural lake. It is an artificial lake also kept at an artificial level, of 6.00 ft above mean sea level, by the Beira Spillway”.
COMMENT: A pumping station is being built across St. Sebastian Canal at Maradana for pumping water from the canal to Beira Lake during periods of high rainfall in Colombo. This work to be carried out during 2019 -2020 is estimated to cost of USD 5.93 million and LKR 165 million. (See also the last paragraph).
6. “Ignoring many other references, contained in Dr R’s article, let me now say a few words about narrowing of bridges, mentioned in it. This is not a matter of life and death, as made out to be. Any hydrologist will agree that within the narrowed section, the velocity will increase to make up for the constriction”.
COMMENT: Widening of the canals and removing bottleneck were not proposals that I made, but what are actually executed by SLLDC as described in its website. Kolonnawa Canal Diversion Stage III says “the canal has become very narrow at certain sections due to encroachment. Some resettlement and land acquisitions are undertaken to remove bottlenecks”. This work to be carried out during 2018-2020 will cost of LKR 1,000 million. Diversion Stage IV also refers to removing two bottlenecks near the outfall.
7. “If, as proposed, the southern diversion takes place, such a canal would become a “trans-basin diversion” let alone the new outfall getting pushed about 20 miles, down south, to Panadura; not to mention reversing the natural flow direction, within the Madiwela catchment, and aggravating the already existing problems, within Bolgoda”.
COMMENT: The proposed diversion is not the first trans-basin diversion in Sri Lanka. Under the Mahaweli Scheme, there are trans-basin diversions. There are even such diversions among ancient works including diversion of Kala Oya to Malwathu Oya basin and Amban Ganga to Yan Oys basin. More recently, Kalu Ganga (Matale) was diverted to Amban Ganga basin under Moragahakanda Project, Uma Oya is being diverted to Kirindi Oya basin. It is also proposed to divert Gin Ganga to Nilwala basin. If Madiwela South diversion is the only practical option available to protect Sri Jayewardenapura area from flooding, it should be pursued after addressing whatever environmental issues that it may cause.
8. “The proposals (which) I have been making for more than 30 years, do not go against nature, no damage to environment by digging new canals, no underground tunnels of large diameter, no widening of bridges, and no pumping”.
COMMENT: If AN’s proposal with no digging of new canals, no tunneling or no widening of canals had merit, why wasn’t it accepted by authorities for implementation all these 30 years?
OPTION WITH NO DIGGING, TUNNELING AND PUMPING
As mentioned in my previous article, the Diyawannawa Lake has two draining outlets, one via Kolonnawa Canal and the other via Wellawatta Canal. The Kolonnawa Canal branches into three canals with outfalls to the Kelani River at Grandpass, Kotuwila and Ambatale which need pumping during heavy rainfall days. Hence, only the Wellawatta Canal is available for draining direct into the sea without resorting to digging new canals, or building tunnels or installing pumping stations. Under the MCUDP project, the stretch of Wellawatta Canal beyond the Galle Road was dredged, widened and the outfall improved at a cost of LKR 111.6 Million. It is to be seen whether this outlet together with the improved outfalls to Kelani River could handle the draining of Diyawannawa Lake during an extreme rainfall event.
ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL TO DRAIN FLOOD WATER
AN has expressed his reservations about using the Beira Lake as an outfall for flood water as the level of the spillway cannot be adjusted. Though a sum of LKR 1,350 million is spent on building a pumping station at Maradana to divert flood water coming along the Dematagoda Canal into the Beira Lake and then to the sea, there is a doubt as to whether this diversion will work. If it works, it will take flood water from Kotte diverted to St. Sebastian Canal first to the Floating Market and then to the Beira Lake before the water enters the spillway near Galle Face. This will invariably raise the water level of Beira Lake which is presently maintained at 1.8 m above mean sea level to prevent buildings constructed on wooden piles along the lake from collapsing. However, according to an environment screening study on a project for rehabilitation of the Beira Lake carried out by Moratuwa University in 2011, any changes to the water level of the Beira lake can have an adverse effect on the stability of these foundations.
There is however, another alternative option available to improve the draining of Kotte flood water flowing along Dematagoda Canal into the river without posing any of these problems. That is by diverting water flowing in Dematagoda Canal direct into Kiththamphuwa Ela (KE) before it joins with St. Sebastian Canal, by constructing a new canal branching off from the Dematagoda Canal just before it crosses the railway line. This canal could run parallel to the railway line and join with the KE where it makes a U-turn near Welewatta Road. This link canal is only about 0.5 km long and this area comes mostly under railway reservation. The stretch of KE which runs parallel to the railway line up to the river outfall is being widened and dredged under the Kolonnawa Canal Diversion Stage IV at a cost of LKR 1,432 Million. Hence, construction of this new link canal could be undertaken as a part of this project.
The distance to the existing river outfall along St. Sebastian Canal from this branching point is 3.0 km while the distance to the Beira Lake outfall via St. Sebastian Canal in the opposite direction 5.2 km, whereas the distance to the river outfall along the proposed link canal and KE is only 1.7 km. Further, the present St. Sebastian Canal route has six road crossings and several bends while the route via Beira Lake has eight road crossings. Also, the stretch of St. Sebastian Canal behind the Technical College passes through a narrow passage cut through a hill with no room for widening. On the other hand, the proposed route via the link canal and KE is short and straight with only one road crossing at Orugodawatta and is a better option to drain the Kotte flood water into Kelani River, than the proposed scheme via Beira Lake.
The SLLDC has already executed several projects worth LKR 1,165 Million with World Bank funding to improve the drainage in several canals in the city and its suburbs. Several more projects estimated to cost over LKR 4,500 Million and USD 44 Million are on-going. This includes a project to take flood water from Kotte all the way to Beira Lake and then to spillway at Galle Face for discharging into the sea by reversing the flow in St. Sebastian Canal. However, this does not appear sensible even to a layman like myself. It is more sensible to drop this proposal and instead develop the link canal to take flood water flowing in Dematagoda Canal direct to KE stretch running parallel to the railway line and thereafter to the Kelani river. The pumping equipment intended for diverting flood water via Beira Lake could be installed at the outfall of KE near Kalu Palama, enabling it to remove the flood water during heavy rainfall.
How Hamas built a force to attack Israel on 7 October
Five armed Palestinian groups joined Hamas in the deadly 7 October attack on Israel after training together in military-style exercises from 2020 onwards, BBC News analysis shows.
The groups carried out joint drills in Gaza which closely resembled the tactics used during the deadly assault – including at a site less than 1km (0.6 miles) from the barrier with Israel – and posted them on social media.
They practised hostage-taking, raiding compounds and breaching Israel’s defences during these exercises, the last of which was held just 25 days before the attack.
BBC Arabic and BBC Verify have collated evidence which shows how Hamas brought together Gaza’s factions to hone their combat methods – and ultimately execute a raid into Israel which has plunged the region into war.
‘A sign of unity’
On 29 December 2020, Hamas’s overall leader Ismail Haniyeh declared the first of four drills codenamed Strong Pillar a “strong message and a sign of unity” between Gaza’s various armed factions.
As the most powerful of Gaza’s armed groups, Hamas was the dominant force in a coalition which brought together 10 other Palestinian factions in a war games-style exercise overseen by a “joint operation room”.
Prior to 2018, Hamas had formally coordinated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Gaza’s second largest armed faction and – like Hamas – a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK and other countries.
Hamas had also fought alongside other groups in previous conflicts, but the 2020 drill was billed in propaganda as evidence a wider array of groups were being unified.
Hamas’s leader said the first drill reflected the “permanent readiness” of the armed factions.
The 2020 exercise was the first of four joint drills held over three years, each of which was documented in polished videos posted on public social media channels.
The BBC has visually identified 10 groups, including PIJ, by their distinctive headbands and emblems training alongside Hamas during the Strong Pillar drills in footage posted on the messaging app Telegram.
Following the 7 October attack, five of the groups went on to post videos claiming to show them taking part in the assault. Three others issued written statements on Telegram claiming to have participated.
The role of these groups has come into sharp focus as pressure builds on Hamas to find dozens of women and children believed to have been taken as captives from Israel into Gaza by other factions on 7 October. Three groups – PIJ, the Mujahideen Brigades and Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades – claim to have seized Israeli hostages on that day.
Efforts to extend the temporary truce in Gaza were said to be hinging on Hamas locating those hostages. The structure was set up in 2018 to coordinate Gaza’s armed factions under a central command.
While these groups are drawn from a broad ideological spectrum ranging from hard-line Islamist to relatively secular, all shared a willingness to use violence against Israel.
Hamas statements repeatedly stressed the theme of unity between Gaza’s disparate armed groups. The group suggested they were equal partners in the joint drills, whilst it continued to play a leading role in the plans to attack Israel. Footage from the first drill shows masked commanders in a bunker appearing to conduct the exercise, and begins with a volley of rocket fire.
It cuts to heavily armed fighters overrunning a mocked-up tank marked with an Israeli flag, detaining a crew member and dragging him away as a prisoner, as well as raiding buildings.
We know from videos and harrowing witness statements that both tactics were used to capture soldiers and target civilians on 7 October, when around 1,200 people were killed and an estimated 240 hostages were taken.
Telling the world
The second Strong Pillar drill was held almost exactly one year later.
Ayman Nofal, a commander in the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades – the official name for Hamas’s armed wing – said the aim of the exercise on 26 December 2021 was to “affirm the unity of the resistance factions”.
He said the drills would “tell the enemy that the walls and engineering measures on the borders of Gaza will not protect them”.
Another Hamas statement said the “joint military manoeuvres” were designed to “simulate the liberation of settlements near Gaza” – which is how the group refers to Israeli communities.
The exercise was repeated on 28 December 2022, and propaganda images of fighters practising clearing buildings and overrunning tanks in what appears to be a replica of a military base were published to mark the event.
The exercises were reported on in Israel, so it’s inconceivable they were not being closely monitored by the country’s extensive intelligence agencies.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have previously carried out air strikes to disrupt Hamas’s training activities. In April 2023, they bombed the site used for the first Strong Pillar drill.
Weeks before the attacks, female surveillance soldiers near the Gaza border reportedly warned of unusually high drone activity and that Hamas was training to take over observation posts with replicas of their positions.
But, according to reports in the Israeli media, they say they were ignored. Brigadier General Amir Avivi, a former IDF deputy commander in Gaza, told the BBC: “There was a lot of intelligence that they were doing this training – after all, the videos are public, and this was happening just hundreds of metres from the fence (with Israel).”
But he said while the military knew about the drills, they “didn’t see what they were training for”.
The IDF said they “eliminated” Nofal on 17 October 2023, the first senior Hamas military leader to be killed during the conflict.
Hiding in plain sight
Hamas went to great lengths to make sure the drills were realistic.
In 2022, fighters practised storming a mock Israeli military base built just 2.6km (1.6 miles) from the Erez crossing, a route between Gaza and Israel controlled by the IDF.
BBC Verify has pinpointed the site in the far north of Gaza, just 800m (0.5 miles) from the barrier, by matching geographic features seen in the training footage to aerial images of the area. As of November 2023, the site was still visible on Bing Maps.
The training camp was within 1.6km (1 mile) of an Israeli observation tower and an elevated observation box, elements in a security barrier Israel has spent hundreds of millions of dollars constructing.
The mock base is on land dug several metres below ground level, so it may not have been immediately visible to any nearby Israeli patrols – but the smoke rising from the explosions surely would have been, and the IDF is known to use aerial surveillance.
Hamas used this site to practise storming buildings, taking hostages at gunpoint and destroying security barriers.
BBC Verify has used publicly available information – including satellite imagery – to locate 14 training sites at nine different locations across Gaza.
They even trained twice at a site less than 1.6 km (1 mile) from the United Nations’ aid agency distribution centre, and which was visible in the background of an official video published by the agency in December 2022.
Land, sea and air
On 10 September 2023, the so-called joint committee room published images on its dedicated Telegram channel of men in military uniforms carrying out surveillance of military installations along the Gaza barrier.
Two days later, the fourth Strong Pillar military exercise was staged, and by 7 October, all the tactics that would be deployed in the unprecedented attack had been rehearsed.
Fighters were filmed riding in the same type of white Toyota pickup trucks which were seen roaming through southern Israel the following month.
The propaganda video shows gunmen raiding mock buildings and firing at dummy targets inside, as well as training to storm a beach using a boat and underwater divers. Israel has said it repelled attempted Hamas boat landings on its shores on 7 October.
However, Hamas did not publicise its training with motorcycles and paragliders as part of the Strong Pillar propaganda.
A training video posted by Hamas three days after 7 October shows fences and barriers being demolished to allow motorcycles to pass through, a tactic they used to reach communities in southern Israel. We have not identified similar earlier videos.
Footage of fighters using paragliding equipment was also not published until the 7 October attack was under way.
In a training video shared on the day of the attack, gunmen are seen landing in a mock kibbutz at an airstrip we have located to a site north of Rafah in southern Gaza.
BBC Verify established it was recorded some time before 25 August 2022, and was stored in a computer file titled Eagle Squadron, the name Hamas uses for its aerial division – suggesting the paragliders plan was in the works for over a year.
The element of surprise
Before 7 October, Hamas was thought to have about 30,000 fighters in the Gaza Strip, according to reports quoting IDF commanders. It was also thought that Hamas could draw on several thousands of fighters from smaller groups.
Hamas is by far the most powerful of the Palestinian armed groups, even without the support of other factions – suggesting its interest in galvanising the factions was driven by an attempt to secure broad support within Gaza at least as much as bolstering its own numbers.
The IDF has previously estimated 1,500 fighters joined the 7 October raids. The Times of Israel reported earlier this month the IDF now believes the number was closer to 3,000.
Whatever the true number, it means only a relatively small fraction of the total number of armed operatives in Gaza took part. It is not possible to verify precise numbers for how many fighters from smaller groups took part in the attack or the Strong Pillar drills.
While Hamas was building cross-faction support in the build-up to the attack, Hisham Jaber, a former Brigadier General in the Lebanese army who is now a security analyst at the Middle East Centre for Studies and Research, said he believed only Hamas was aware of the ultimate plan, and it was “probable they]asked other factions to join on the day”.
Andreas Krieg, a senior lecturer in security studies at Kings College London, told the BBC: “While there was centralised planning, execution was de-centralised, with each squad operationalising the plan as they saw fit.”
He said he had spoken to people inside Hamas who were surprised by the weakness of Israel’s defences, and assessed militants likely bypassed Israel’s surveillance technology by communicating offline.
Hugh Lovatt, a Middle East analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said Israel would have been aware of the joint training drills but “reached the wrong conclusion”, assessing they amounted to the “standard” activity of paramilitary groups in the Palestinian territories, rather than being “indicative of a looming large-scale attack”.
Asked about the issues raised in this article, the Israel Defense Forces said it was “currently focused on eliminating the threat from the terrorist organisation Hamas” and questions about any potential failures “will be looked into in a later stage”.
It could be several years until Israel formally reckons with whether it missed opportunities to prevent the 7 October massacre. The ramifications for its military, intelligence services and government could be seismic.
Rebuild trust with people to revive economy
by Jehan Perera
The government is facing an uphill task to rebuild the country which continues to be in a state of economic and moral decline which was evident in parliamentary proceedings last week. The initial hopes of a quick transition from the economic and moral decline that accompanied the pre-Aragalaya period ended with the accession of President Ranil Wickremesinghe to the presidency. The President made skillful use of the security forces, in the first instance, and the parliamentary majority thereafter, to restore the old order, government rule and stabilise the economy, albeit at a much lower level of economic wellbeing. But this won for him and the government the support of those sections of the population who could still live their regular lives and the international community who did not want Sri Lanka to fall prey to rival powers.
The Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe has expressed confidence that Sri Lanka will receive the second tranche of the IMF loan before the end of the year. He has made this prediction despite the failure of the government to meet the basic IMF conditions, which include reducing the gap between revenues and expenditures. The ability to access IMF funds despite not conforming with its conditions is indicative of favoured status. The budget prepared by the government shows a widening of the chasm that are mitigated by optimistic predictions of increased tax revenues. The government has signally failed to deliver on the IMF’s “governance diagnostic” which highlighted the need for much greater efforts to tackle corruption and to be transparent in the signing of new contracts.
If social media reports and personal anecdotes are to be believed, corruption is thriving at all levels. Agreements with international companies continue to be entered into with little being known of the terms and conditions, and even the debt restructuring agreement with China continues to be a secret.
But there continues to be a belief amongst sections of the Sri Lankan population and international community alike that the present unsatisfactory governance needs to be tolerated until the country makes the transition to self-sustaining economic growth. There is concern that any change of government at the present time would jeopardise the economic stability that the country has achieved despite the unconvincing evidence to the contrary. The general population is expressing its lack of confidence in the future by fleeing abroad and giving votes of no-confidence in every public opinion poll they can.
Despite the government’s continued hold on undisputed power, and skillful use of its parliamentary majority and security forces to enforce governmental rule, it is not able to show that it has the backing of the majority of the general population. The government’s policies seem to have the support of the business and upper social classes whose position is that there is no better alternative at present, a view that is echoed in diplomatic circles. But this sentiment is not reflected in public opinion polls that equally consistently reveal that the government and its leadership get less than 20 percent of the support and even much less. This accounts for why the government has resolutely defied calls for the holding of local government and provincial council elections, the latter which are long overdue.
The President’s announcement that presidential and parliamentary elections will be held next year may be a recognition that the government has come to the realization that it cannot continue to justify holding on to power without obtaining a fresh people’s mandate. The proposed budget is an indication of the government’s preparation for those elections. There are efforts in it to provide benefits for different sections of the people, though whether these promises will materialize is another question due to paucity of resources. President Wickremesinghe has pledged to provide tens of thousands of farmer families with free hold title to the land they currently cultivate under state leases. The motivation to obtain the vote of people by providing them with economic benefits is one of the key features of the democratic process not only in Sri Lanka but worldwide.
However, the skillful use of state power to provide economic benefits, utilizing the parliamentary majority to come up with news laws and use of the security forces to enforce those laws are not the only ingredient for success in governance. The general population need to trust those who are in power. This trust comes from consistency in word and deed. One of the features of the present government is that deeds do not follow words. The exemplary anti-corruption legislation is being used to catch those at the lower levels of the hierarchy but those at the higher levels continue to escape. The recent Supreme Court decision that apportions blame for the economic crisis that plunged vast numbers of people into poverty has not been acted upon and there is no indication at the present time that it will be acted upon.
There are two other areas where the government needs to rebuild the trust of the people. First is to convince them that the burden of economic recovery will be apportioned justly and equitably. The restructuring of the EPF and ETF pension funds which affected the poorer sections of the people adversely while the sparing of the banking (and corporate) sector may have been motivated by the fear that the collapse of the banking sector was a real possibility. However, the evidence that is now coming out, as demonstrated in Parliament by the Opposition, that huge amounts of loans taken by companies have been absorbed by the banks is unconscionable. The government needs to promise that it will rectify this and other such inequities as soon as possible, including the tax holidays to favoured companies. The recent parliamentary debates have provided the opportunity for the Opposition to make presentations that highlight the need for consistency.
The second area that needs to be addressed is the ethnic conflict in the country. This is a problem that has receded into the background of the national discourse, due to the overwhelming nature of the economic crisis. However, one of the root causes of the country’s economic crisis is that huge amounts of resources were devoted to fighting a war that need not have taken place if there had been policies that promoted inter-ethnic justice and equity. The security forces continue to extract a large part of the budget. Sri Lanka is not a unique country when it comes to having different ethnic and religious communities. Other countries have them too, but most of those countries, especially those that are economically successful, have found ways to resolve their differences through dialogue and mutual accommodation that benefits the entire society. Provincial council elections have not been held for over five years.
There is a need to convince the ethnic and religious minorities that they are a part and parcel of the polity and treated as equal citizens. The provincial council elections cannot be postponed for another two years. There is no logical basis in the President stating they will be held in the year following the presidential and parliamentary elections. The wrong that was done to the Tamils of recent Indian origin at Independence has still not been rectified. They continue to be the poorest and most neglected community in the country. An issue that is scarring the Tamil and Muslim people at the present time is the takeover of grazing lands in the east by people from outside the area. The residents of those areas have no government to protect them. This is not the way to build trust that will unify the people with the government to uplift the economy.
Christmas and the New Year in the Seychelles…
Although the group Mirage has been relatively quiet, in the local showbiz scene, they will certainly be missed by music lovers, and their fans, during the festive period.
They leave on Sunday, the 3rd of December, for a month long stay in probably the smallest country in Africa – the Seychelles.
The group, comprising Donald Pieries (drums/vocals), Benjy Ranabahu (bass), Thushara Rajarathna (keyboards/vocals), Thilak Perera (guitar/vocals) and Dhanushka Uyanahewa (vocals), will be at the Hilton Seychelles for two major gigs – Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
They will also be entertaining guests throughout their stay at the Hilton.
The group’s male vocalist, the famous Manilal Perera, who is now very much a part of Mirage, is unable to make this trip due to prior commitments, in the local scene, as a solo artiste.
Dhanushka Uyanahewa, who is not a regular member of Mirage, replaces Manilal for this particular assignment.
Since this is their very first trip to the Seychelles, they say they are looking forward, with great excitement, to checking out that part of the world.
The Seychelles is known for its picturesque beaches, ecological diversity, dense tropical forests, and the bright blue ocean that surrounds it, all of which combine to make the archipelago world-famous.
Mirage will be back in early January, 2024, and then, a few weeks later, they will be off to Australia for a Valentine’s Day gig in Melbourne.
The band has been to Australia before but it will be the first time that the present lineup would be operating, Down Under, with Manilal Perera as their frontline vocalist.
Their female vocalist Dhanushka Uyanahewa, who will perform with Mirage in the Seychelles, will not be in the lineup to Australia.
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