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Kinniya UC chairman blamed for ferry disaster

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By Saman Indrajith

Rural Roads and Other Infrastructure State Minister, Nimal Lanza, yesterday, in Parliament, said that the Kinniya Urban Council Chairman, who is the brother-in-law of SLMC Batticaloa District MP Imran Maharoof, was responsible for the tragedy in Kinniya which claimed six lives on Tuesday.

Minister Lanza said that the government had not issued any permits for a ferry service in the Kurinchenkerni lagoon. The regional politicians, using their political power, had operated the ferry service and many lives had been lost due to the actions of the Urban Council Chairman. Minister Lanza said, requesting the Governor of the Eastern Province to remove the UC chairman concerned from office and take disciplinary action against him.

Making a special statement in Parliament State Minister Lanza said: “We extend our condolences to the victims and family members of this disaster. We also wish speedy recovery of those who are in the hospital owing to this tragic accident. People in Kinniya had suffered for a long time because they did not have a bridge across the Kurinchenkerni lagoon. Some had used boats for their travel across the lagoon. Following the requests from the people, several ministers of the yahapalana government went there and placed foundation stones several times. Yet they could not construct the bridge. After we came to power we laid the foundation stone to construct the bridge on April 10, 2021. There had been a meeting on Nov 24, 2020 at the Kinniya Divisional Secretariat where permission was granted to use a three and half km long road as an alternative route until the bridge is completed. That decision had been made by the political authorities of the Urban Council and Members of the Pradeshiya Sabhas of the area. While people were using that alternative route the political authority gave permission for the operation of the ferry.

“When the Kinniya Pradeshiya Sabha asked for permission from the Road Development Authority that request was turned down because it was not safe. The RDA also turned down a request by Kinniya Urban Council for the use of a barge because it was unsafe. It is after that the Urban Council had issued the permit on its own. The permit had been issued to a businessman. There are safety measures to be followed when operating a ferry service. These operators have not even provided a life jacket to the passengers. I state that the first person responsible for this tragedy is the chairman of the Kinniya Urban Council. It was he who arrogated power to himself to grant the permit while the government and the officials continuously rejected the requests for a permit. A question has been raised in parliament on July 14, 2021 seeking the approval for the ferry service and in response to that we instructed the contracting company to expedite the work on the bridge. As per the request of people and MPs a decision was made to consider the start of a ferry service and RDA was planning to commence a proper ferry service with safety precautions but the urban council chairman by the name of Riyaz, who is the brother in law of SJB MP Imran Maharoof, issued a permit on his own. MP Maharoof too was involved in commencing the ferry service. The urban council has no powers to start a ferry service in this manner. I table all the documents with regard to this process which violated many regulations. It is wrong for the opposition to try to place the blame at our doorstep. We call on the President, the Prime Minister, and Minister in charge of police, and the IGP to investigate this incident. I also call on the Governor Eastern Province to suspend this chairman immediately and to take disciplinary action against him. It was he who should pay for this crime and loss of lives of innocent people by his imprudent act of assuming powers not belonging to his post to give a permit for the operation of the ferry.”



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Six member committee appointed to inquire into Sri Lanka Cricket Team’s conduct in Australia

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Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe has appointed a six member committee headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena to inquire into the incidents reported against some members of the Sri Lanka Cricket team that participated at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

 

 

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SJB MP: Most parents have to choose between food and children’s education

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By Saman Indrajith

Most Sri Lankan parents are compelled to choose between food for their families and their children’s eduction, SJB Matale District MP Rohini Kumari Wijerathne told Parliament yesterday.

Only a few parents were able to feed and educate their children the MP said, participating in the debate on Budget 2023 under the expenditure heads of Ministries of Education and Women and Child Affairs.

“An 80-page exercise book costs Rs. 200. A CR book costs Rs 560. A pencil or pen costs Rs 40. A box of colour pencils costs Rs 570 while a bottle of glue costs Rs 150. If the father is a daily wage earner he has to spend one fourth of his salary on a box of colour pencils for his child. A satchel now costs around Rs 4,000. A pair of school shoes is above Rs 3,500. The Minister of Education knows well how many days a child could use an 80-page exercise book for taking notes. Roughly, stationery cost is around Rs 25,000 to 30,000 per child, MP Wijerathne said, adding that only Rs. 232 billion had been allotted for the Ministry of Education by Budget 2023.

“After paying salaries of teachers and covering officials’ expenses, etc., there will be very little left for other important matters,” the MP said, noting that Sri Lanka would soon be known as the country that made the lowest allocation of funds for education in the South Asian region.

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All crises boil down to flaws in education system, says Dullas

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By Saman Indrajith

All the crises Sri Lanka was beset with were due to the country’s outdated education system, MP Dullas Alahapperuma told Parliament yesterday.

“The political and economic crisis we are facing is the direct result of our education,” he said.

The Sri Lankan education system had not changed with global developments. Our system is not even geared for employment. Our examination system is antiquated and our classrooms are in the 19th Century.

However, the students belong to the 21st century. How can you cater to 21st Century children under an outdated system?” he queried.

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