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SL cultural delegation invited to Deepotsav celebration



High Commissioner of India Shri Gopal Baglay with the delegation led by Gnanakumar Sithambaram and Gayathri Suveendran, members of the Sri Lanka Chapter of the Global Encyclopedia of Ramayana project, and Kalasuri Shrimati Vasugy Jegatheeswaran, an eminent Bharatha Natyam Guru at Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre, and Natya Kala Mandhir, Colombo

A 15-member cultural delegation from Sri Lanka has been invited by the government of Uttar Pradesh, India to participate in the grand Deepotsav celebration, which is being organized from Nov 1-5 at Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said.

The delegation is led by Gnanakumar Sithambaram and Gayathri Suveendran, members of the Sri Lanka Chapter of the Global Encyclopedia of Ramayana project, and Kalasuri Shrimati Vasugy Jegatheeswaran, an eminent Bharatha Natyam Guru at Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre, and Natya Kala Mandhir, Colombo. High Commissioner of India Shri Gopal Baglay, interacted with the delegation before their departure. He highlighted the significance of such cultural and spiritual interactions in further strengthening the centuries old ties between India and Sri Lanka, and conveyed best wishes for their cultural performances in India.

The Ayodhya Research Institute, Department of Culture, Government of Uttar Pradesh is organizing the 15-member cultural delegation from Sri Lanka. Ayodhya is situated on the banks of holy river Saryu in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is regarded as one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus as it is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. A grand temple is being constructed there.

Every year, since 2017, the Government of Uttar Pradesh has been celebrating Deepotsav in Ayodhya on the eve of Diwali. This year, during the fifth edition of Deepotsav, for the first time, 500 drones will draw Ramayana scenes on Ayodhya’s skyline. Cultural troupes from different regions of India and from all over the world, including Sri Lanka, would showcase cultural performances based on Ramayana.

The Government of Uttar Pradesh aims to set a record of lighting 12 lakh diyas (earthen lamps) on the eve of Diwali, falling on 3rd November. Other attractions during the Deepotsav celebrations at Ayodhya would include heritage tour, conference, book launch, Ramayana Shobhayatra (procession), photography exhibition, 3-D holographic show, projection mapping, and laser shows at the majestic ‘Ram-Ki-Paidi’ on the banks of the Saryu River.

On Oct 28, a symbolic sacred monument from Seetha Amman Temple at Nuwara Eliya was handed over to the Chief Priest of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya by the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India, Milinda Moragoda. This sacred monument was brought to India by the High Commissioner from the Seetha Amman Temple in Sri Lanka.

It may be recalled that the inaugural international flight arrived at the holy city of Kushinagar from Colombo on the auspicious Vap Poya day on Oct 20. The delegation from Sri Lanka led by Namal Rajapaksa, Minister of Youth and Sports, Minister of Development Coordination and Monitoring and State Minister of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development comprised four State Ministers, senior officials and the Most Venerable Mahasangha represented by close to 100 Senior Buddhist monks from different sects and sacred temples across Sri Lanka. Such cultural and spiritual events attest to the abiding people-to-people linkages between the two countries which span across religions.

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Countrywide power outage act of sabotage, claim TU, officials



Unions suspect sinister attempt to call in military

Engineers say technical fault caused power failure

CEBEU suspends work-to-rule protest

By Ifham Nizam

The government was trying to pin the blame for yesterday’s countrywide power outage on the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) trade unions in a bid to call in the military, Joint Trade Union Alliance Convener Ranjan Jayalal said yesterday.

Jayalal told The Island the government’s attempt would tarnish the image of the military and that of the country, but such intimidatory tactics would not deter the CEB unions from continuing with their action against the questionable agreement between the government and the US energy firm, New Fortress, which has been allowed to acquire a 40% stake in the Yugadanavi power plant. “The government is trying to derail our trade union action, scheduled for December 08. Definitely the power outage was an act of sabotage. Two units of the Norochcholai coal-fired power plant and the one at Sapugaskanda had failed,” he added, insisting that the trade unions had nothing do with the power outage. He said union activists had sprung into action to restore power despite their work-to-rule, for the sake of the country and its people.

A senior independent electrical engineer said the power failure was an act of sabotage or attempt at sabotage. “It could have been a rehearsal that misfired,” he added.

Electricity supply in several areas in Colombo and its suburbs were restored around 2.00 p.m. Subsequently, the power supply on Anuradhapura-Habarana, Laxapana-Athurugiriya and Kotmale-Biyagama transmission lines was restored. However, even at 5.30 p.m. most parts of the Gamapaha District experiencing power failures.

CEB General Manager, Eng. M R Ranatunga sand disruptions to the power supply could be considered sabotage. He said CEBEU activists had been dragging their feet on power restoration.

State Minister of National Security & Disaster Management Chamal Rajapaksa said necessary action would be taken against the CEB engineers if it was revealed that the power outage was an act of sabotage.

Major disruptions to the electricity supply were reported across the country around 11.30 a.m. yesterday owing to a breakdown in transmission lines.

The National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB) said the water supply in several areas of Colombo and suburbs had been disrupted due to the breakdown in the power supply as the NWS&D is dependent on the national grid for pumping purposes.

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) last night said it had received a favourable response from the government to its demands and therefore decided to suspend its work-to-rule campaign.

The Island learns that President’s Secretary Dr. P. B. Jayasundara will meet a CEBEU delegation, next week.

A senior electrical engineer expressed concern about CEB General Manager’s statement that the power outage was an act of sabotage by the engineers’ union. He denied as baseless the official’s claim.

CEBEU Secretary Dhammike Wimalarathne confirmed that his union had decided to suspend trade union action following an undertaking given by the government to have talks with them.

Meanwhile, CEBEU President Saumya Kumarawadu, addressing the media, yesterday, insisted that the power outage had been due to a technical problem.

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Chamal tells Parliament if power failure is due to sabotage, culprits will be dealt with severely



By Saman Indrajith

Minister of Irrigation and State Minister of Internal Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management, Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that the government was investigating the causes of yesterday’s countrywide power outage and if it was due to sabotage those responsible would be severely dealt with.

Responding to a question by Anuradhapura District SJB MP Rohana Bandara Dissanayake during the third reading stage debate on Budget 2022 under the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Defence, the Minister said that the government would not tolerate sabotage.

MP Rohana Bandara Dissanayake said that while the national security was being debated in Parliament the entire country was experiencing a power outage which could be considered a serious threat to national security.

He said all reservoirs were brimful and there was sufficient water to generate hydro power.

Colombo District SJB MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said that the entire country was in dark and Parliament was sitting thanks to power supplied by generators.

Minister Rajapaksa said that the government had already called for an investigation and it would not hesitate to take necessary action on the findings of the probe.

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Committee on Public Finance meeting: one-third drop in next Yala harvest predicted



Members of the Committee on Public Finance recently recommended that if the import ban on rice, which was imposed last April, is to be lifted, it should be done only after a proper forecast of the coming Yala harvest.

The Chairman of the Committee on Finance Anura Priyadharshana Yapa pointed out that under the prevailing circumstances, the interest of the paddy farmers and consumers had to be taken into consideration.

In response to MP Yapa’s comment, the Imports and Exports Controller General revealed that, according to the available data, the expected Yala harvest is likely to be only 2/3 as compared to last year.

MP Nalin Fernando pointed out that if businessmen were allowed to import rice freely, the business community would be tempted to import more rice than necessary, driving the paddy prices down and affecting the farming community badly. Hence, the Ministry of Finance should intervene to prevent the local farmer from facing difficulties. MP Fernando also pointed out to the officials of the Ministry of Finance that it was important to make rice freely available at reasonable prices. Sri Lankans did not like rice imported from neighbouring countries, he said.

The Committee on Public Finance was urged to obtain approval for an Extraordinary Gazette Notification permitting the importation of Kekulu, Nadu, Samba and other types of rice as per the order of the Minister of Finance. MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said officials had to investigate the macro economic impact of such orders given without a proper procedural or logical assessment.

The committee members inquired from the officials of the Ministry of Finance who were present at the Committee meeting whether the 2021 Budget forecasts could be fulfilled. According to the statistics and data submitted by the officials of the Ministry of Finance, the committee observed that if only local funds were used to repay all debts, there would be an increase in interest rates in the near future and that would adversely affect the local private sector, (Dr.) Harsha de Silva said.

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