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India exploring alternate route to launch Sethusamudram project

Dec 16 (PTI) In line with BJP-led govt's stand not to demolish 'Ram Sethu', the govt is in the process of exploring an alternative route for the launch of Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP). "We are in the process of exploring an alternate route for SSCP through Pamban Pass without affecting Ram Sethu/Adam's Bridge," an Shipping Ministry official said. The official said Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES), which was assigned the task of a study on alternate route, more..

Race for presidency no longer hinges on crossovers - JOF

Dec 16 (Island) The Joint Opposition Front (JOF) said yesterday that the race for the Presidency no longer depended on the number of government MPs defecting though it was confident of many more joining its ranks. Eran Wickremeratne MP said that the outcome of next month’s Presidential Election hinged on a large number of ‘undecided’ electors and the JOF was confident of securing most of such votes in favour of their candidate Maithripala Sirisena. more..

Tamil Nadu to release 30 Sri Lankan fishermen on December 22

Dec 16 (Hindu) The Tamil Nadu govt has agreed to set free 30 Sri Lankan fishermen and their 19 boats, currently in custody in the State. The fishermen would be released on December 22. In a letter to PM Narendra Modi, Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam stated that the decision had been taken “in a spirit of accommodation and magnanimity and as a humanitarian gesture” and also in view of the approaching Christmas. more..

New crossovers to come as post-x'mas bonanza

Dec 16 (AM) Multiple sources of the govt and the opposition said that major crossovers from both sides have been postponed until the last week of December. Highly placed political sources said most of the MPs, who initially wanted to cross over, are now skeptical as they are uncertain about the final result of the election. The MPs will make a final decision depending on the progress of political campaigns of both camps. more..

Ex-Sri Lanka leader warns of election 'skullduggery'

Dec 16 (AFP) Former president warned that her successor may resort to "skullduggery" to secure an unprecedented third term, calling for outside observers to monitor the forthcoming election. Chandrika Kumaratunga, who re-entered politics last month to support the main opposition presidential candidate, said she believed the govt would seek to intimidate rivals at the Jan 8 elections. more..

Clash erupts at Jaffna meeting

Dec 16 (CG) A clash broke out at the Jaffna District Coordinating Committee (DCC) meeting today resulting in some officials and NPC members sustaining injuries. Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran and EPDP leader Douglas Devananda were among those who were at the meeting at the time. Wigneswaran accused the EPDP of instigating the clash by bringing outsiders for the session. more..

Presidential polls: No TNA boycott

Dec 16 (CT) Countering fear that Tamil voters will repeat their act of 2005, TNA MP, Seenithambi Yogeswaran said that the party will not boycott the Presidential Election scheduled for 8 January. He said that the government's decision to amend the Constitution to remove the two-term limit for a President, sparked a wide protest in the island nation. "We will take part in the democratic process and exercise our democratic right," more..

Opposition accused of using Singapore as base for conspiracies

Dec 16 (Island) The UPFA charged that opposition conspiracies to topple the govt had been hatched in Singapore as several key Opposition politicians visited that country in November. Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said they had the list of all those who visited Singapore during the month of November. He said that former President Chandrika Kumaratunga visited Singapore on Nov 1, Maithripala Sirisena on Nov 2, Digambaran more..

Candidates bare assets, but polls chief covers them

Dec 16 (ST) Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has blocked public access to the asset declarations of all presidential candidates till after the January 2015 election. “The public can request for them after the elections,” the Elections Commissioner said. “We are not letting anyone see them till then.” Legal experts said his decision was an administrative move that did not have any basis in law. more..

The forensics expert who offered to help ID tsunami victims

Dec 16 (Independent) He was at home with his family on Boxing Day 2004 when he saw TV coverage of the disaster and flew out five weeks later when bosses at the National Police Improvement Agency asked for volunteers. His role was body recovery and identification and he set up a mortuary, exhumed bodies and helped to identify westerners from their DNA or fingerprints. In sweltering heat, he worked 16 hour days and more..

Request to Mahinda and Maithri to include media freedom in their manifestos

Dec 16 (Island) Eight key media organisations have requested the two main presidential candidates President Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena to include several issues relating to media freedom in their election manifestos, a press release issued by the Sri Lanka Press Institute said. Full text: "On the 8th of December 2014, eight key media organizations in Sri Lanka submitted in writing to the Presidential Candidates namely more..

Rice farmers in a quandary

Dec 16 (SL) With the govt deciding to reduce the price of rice, the farmers are skeptical of receiving the price for their paddy that was promised during the last budget. According to the National Organizer of the All Ceylon Farmers’ Federation (JVP) Namal Karunaratne, the farmers welcome the decision taken by the govt but he said that he hoped the govt would not use that as an excuse to reduce the price of paddy that more..

CCTV : A must for free and fair polls

Dec 16 (CT) Elections Commissioner, Mahinda Deshapriya has boldly moved forward to prevent vote rigging at the upcoming presidential election. As a prelude to that arduous task, the Polls Chief directed the presence of an Elections Department official when state sector employees are to cast their postal votes. This follows complaints from political parties that postal voters were being intimidated by their respective Heads of Department demanding them to show the ballot papers after more..

Give facts, not ghost stories

Dec 16 (DM) The TNA has told the media that officially it was still undecided as to which candidate to support at the presidential election. However, Tissa Attanayake, the former UNP general secretary who crossed over to the Govt, has claimed that the opposition coalition has several individual secret pacts with various political parties including the TNA. He did not emphasise the fact that there was a secret pact between the Opposition and the political parties in the South such as the JHU more..

UPFA in last ditch bid to keep SLMC

Dec 16 (Island) A top level govt delegation yesterday held talks with SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem in a bid to retain his support for incumbent President Rajapaksa’s re-election bid. Ministers Susil Premjayantha, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, and Dallas Alahapperuma met Minister Hakeem at the Presidential Secretariat. Sources said that presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunga had joined the discussion. more..

Petition against water contamination

Dec 16 (CT) A petition was handed over to the Thellipalai Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman, K. Sri Mohanan and Uduvil Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman, M. Nandagopalan by the Chamber of Environmental Protection yesterday urging that immediate action be taken regarding the oil leak into well water. The petition wanted the affected areas marked as disaster prone zones. Villagers of Valikamam signed the said petition requesting immediate action be taken before all people fall sick. more..

SB's comments about CBK: UPFA women take offence

Dec 16 (CT) UPFA women politicians and activists yesterday denounced recent derogatory comments, made by Minister S.B. Dissanayake, in reference to parading former President Chandrika Kumaratunga naked on the streets. Deya Rakina Diriya Liya (Courageous Women Who Protect the Nation) comprising women attached to govt constituent parties and headed by Minister Pavithradevi Wanniarachchi, said it was merely the personal opinion of a Cabinet Minister and was not more..

'Only LTTE rump can clarify Prabhakaran’s decision'

Dec 16 (Island) JHU General Secretary Champika Ranawaka, says the LTTE rump should be asked whether it had received payment from the then Premier Rajapaksa Camp in the run-up to Nov. 17, 2005 presidential election. Referring to a statement made by an Opposition MP (not a UNPer), UNP MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, PC, said that the LTTE had facilitated Rajapaksa’s victory by depriving UNP presidential candidate Ranil more..

Momentum: Asia’s largest synchronised professional forum in Colombo tomorrow

Dec 16 (GDI) Organized by ‘Professionals for a Stable Sri Lanka’; Momentum, Asia’s largest synchronized professional forum will be held on 17th Dec. To be held simultaneously at four locations – Cinnamon Lakeside, Hotel Galadari and JAIC Hilton Colombo Residencies – the forum will feature top professionals in business and social sectors, sharing their insight on the significance of stability on the business and economic landscape of Sri Lanka. The two main speakers of the event will be more..

Ratnapura Depot told to show receipts for release of buses

Dec 16 (DM) Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has ordered officials of the Ratnapura Bus Depot to produce the cash receipts issued for the release of 25 buses to transport people to a political rally in Panadura today. Earlier, election observers including PAFFREL had in writing requested Mr. Deshapriya to inquire into allegations that state buses had been used to transport people for the political rallies in the run-up to the presidential election. more..

'Obviously Sirisena lied'

Dec 16 (DN) “Disparities in the agreements which the so-called common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena signed with the UNP and Chandrika Kumaratunga and the one which he signed with the JHU compelled me to leave the JHU,” former JHU legal adviser Udaya Gammanpila said. He said as per the agreement signed between Sirisena and the JHU, Executive Presidency should be reformed & protected, more..

Crowded out UPFA councillor joins Sirisena

Dec 16 (Island) Former Dehiwela SLFP organizer and attorney-at-law Keerthi Udawatte on Sunday alleged that the SLFP leadership had given perks and privileges to UNPers at the expense of those SLFPers who had faithfully served the party. Western Provincial Council member Keerthi Udawatte said that he represented a section of the SLFP that had been neglected by the present leadership. Flanked by JHU General Secretary Champika Ranawaka & UNP MP Wijeyadasa more..

NNSC backs MR

Dec 16 (CT) The New National Sanga Council (NNSC) criticized JHU MP Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera for causing a division in the Party and pledged their support to President Rajapaksa. The NNSC who is backing Rajapaksa, for his role in defeating terrorism and establishing development, is at loggerheads with the National Sanga Council for backing common candidate, Maithripala Sirisena. NNSC stated that they would also be standing together with BBS on common matters after more..

Cleaning the economy!

Dec 16 (FT) Explaining its economic policy, the joint Opposition yesterday sought to reassure voters of prosperity won through an end to corruption and equitable economic policies while insisting the current development drive would be revamped to offer protection from a debt trap. Common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena, who addressed a large gathering of intellectuals and professionals in Kotte, advocated ending more..

A chance to close SL’s one-family show

Dec 16 (WSJ) When President Mahinda Rajapaksa called a snap election last month in Sri Lanka, it appeared he would cruise to a third term. But a hitherto feeble and divided opposition has since rallied behind a common presidential candidate for the Jan. 8 vote. Only a month ago, Maithripala Sirisena was a cabinet minister and general-secretary of the ruling party. Now suddenly Sri Lanka could be at a turning point after almost a decade of Rajapaksa rule. more..

SL presidential elections: India’s stance

Dec 16 (EAR) Sri Lanka’s presidential elections are to be held on Jan 8, 2015. President Rajapakse will be up against his former Minister, Maitripala Sirisena, who defected from the ruling SLFP. Chandrika Kumaratunga, earlier the country`s President from the SLFP, has stepped in to support Sirisena. For his part, Sirisena has arrived at a working arrangement with the SLFP`s arch rival, the UNP, to entrust premiership to UNP leader, Ranil Wikremasinghe, in the event of his victory. more..

University name new clinic in memory of former student murdered in Sri Lanka

Dec 16 (MEN) University bosses have named a new clinic in memory of a former student and Red Cross worker murdered on holiday in Sri Lanka. The University of Salford has named the clinic, in the Brian Blatchford Building, after Khuram Shaikh - a former orthotics and prosthetics student killed on Christmas Day in 2011. Mr Shaikh died at the southern tourist resort of Tangalle after being shot and stabbed. His family, backed by more..

Docs threaten countrywide strike tomorrow accusing NCP Health Minister of inaction

Dec 16 (Island) GMOA gave notice of a countrywide strike on Dec 17 against North Central Province Health Minister S.B. Semasinghe. GMOA Assistant Secretary Dr. Nalinda Herath said that Provincial Health Minister Semasinghe was not performing his duties properly. He alleged that the NCP Health Minister was ignoring the outcome of a probe against Public Health Inspectors Union (PHIU) General Secretary H. Bandara and no disciplinary action had been taken against PHI Bandara. more..

Colombo favoured for high-rise living; not so much for houses

Dec 16 (Island) Colombo is the most popular location among both buyers and renters, with the city accounting for about a third of searches on the Lamudi website. Reflecting the growing demand for high-rise living in Colombo, more than half the searches for apartments on relate to the capital city. This sits in stark contrast to searches for house listings for sale or rent. Only a quarter of those looking for a house are searching within Colombo, Lamudi onsite data reveals. more..

$ 50 m fund to boost economy via private sector

Dec 16 (FT) Under a multi-partner initiative including a first-ever collaboration between international financial agencies, Sri Lanka’s largest private equity fund amounting to $ 50 million (over Rs. 6.5 billion) was launched yesterday with a plan to boost the economy via the private sector, especially SMEs. Spearheading the initiative is NDB Capital Holdings Plc, which has partnered Zephyr Management, a global private equity more..

Maithripala, Ranil to address business leaders on Dec 23

Dec 16 (FT) The much-anticipated business forum to be addressed by the common candidate Maithripala Sirisena and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has been rescheduled for 23 Dec at 10:30 a.m. at the Cinnamon Lakeside. It was previously planned for 17 December at TajSamudra Hotel. The duo will address the business community in this interactive forum titled ‘Let’s Unite,’ with a special theme of ‘Boosting Growth in a Stable Policy Environment’. more..

Municipality Solid Waste to Energy pilot project enters final stage

Dec 16 (FT) The Municipal Solid Waste to Energy pilot project in Sri Lanka inaugurated its construction for the third and final stage of the plan at Kaburupitiya, Matara recently. The inauguration was held for the technological portion of the third phase of the project under the patronage of Central Environment Authority (CEA) Chairman D. W. Prathapasinghe with Biogreencycle Ltd. Chairman Michael Quyn and Managing Director Amindra Wimalasena also present. more..

SriLankan Airlines expands training to meet demand for aviation professionals

Dec 16 (EN) SriLankan Airlines has set up a new training outfit by amalgamating existing internationally certified training units, aiming to produce more aviation professionals needed by an expanding industry. The SriLankan Aviation College is an integrated training institution that brings together the airline’s SriLankan Technical Training and International Aviation Academy training centres, national carrier said in a statement. more..

Constituent changes to the S&P Sri Lanka 20 Index

Dec 16 (Island) Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) announces the changes in S&P Sri Lanka 20 index constituents made by S&P Dow Jones Indices at the 2014 annual index rebalance as follows. S&P Dow Jones Indices today announced that effective from the Dec 22, Asian Hotels & Properties (CSE: AHPL, Bloomberg: AHPL SL), C T Holdings (CSE: CTHR, Bloomberg: CTHR SL) and Hayleys (CSE: HAYL, Bloomberg: HAYL SL)will be removed from the S&P Sri Lanka 20 index as they no longer qualify more..

No level playing field for local businessmen

Dec 16 (CT) A senior local businessman raised concerns over foreign investors being given extensive tax breaks which Sri Lankan businessmen were unable to enjoy, as the govt or investment promotion agencies have not recognized the need to provide a level playing field. Fairway Holdings Chairman Hemaka de Alwis said that many foreign investments in the country would earn more despite its low contribution to the economy as a result of low capital investment as well as more..