6:50 AM

JHU to support govt. in PC polls

The Jathika Hela Urumaya yesterday decided to support the UPFA in the forthcoming provincial polls scheduled for August 23.

The party would not take the stage in support of candidates but would extend the fullest support to the ruling coalition ‘to defeat anti-national campaigns of the UNP and the JVP,’ General Secretary of the JHU, Omalpe Sobhitha Thera told The News-Lanka yesterday.

6:47 AM

Indian warships to shield PM during SAARC meet in Lanka

India is not taking any chances with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's security during his visit to Colombo for the SAARC summit early next month.

The Centre is planning to despatch three warships, including two frontline guided-missile destroyers, to Sri Lankan waters as security cover for the PM and his entourage from the much-feared LTTE.

With national security adviser M K Narayanan personally looking into the issue due to the "high threat perception" from the LTTE, hectic consultations are on between India and Sri Lanka to ensure fool-proof security arrangements. As the Tamil Tigers are known to use suicide bombers, there can be no room for mistakes.

With the LTTE having both air and naval wings, and even using trained deep-sea divers for underwater suicide missions, Indian experts obviously do not want to take any chances. What must also be weighing on the minds of the Indian agencies is the LTTE's success in using light aircraft to bomb a military airfield near Colombo without the radar detecting it.

Sources said the contingent of the Special Protection Group (SPG)—which provides "proximate security" to the PM—would be much larger this time as compared to the PM's other foreign visits. While the eight-day summit will begin on July 27, the PM will attend it only on the last two days.

Apart from Sri Lankan security personnel, security cover will be bolstered by the three Indian warships, including a Delhi-class destroyer and a Rajput-class destroyer, equipped with Sea King and Chetak helicopters.

"They will be geared to meet the entire spectrum of security requirements," said a source. The 6,900-tonne Delhi-class destroyer, with a 360-crew, for instance, is "a power-projection warship" capable of operating even in an NBC (nuclear-chemical-biological) environment, with a wide array of missiles and weapon systems.

There is even talk of IAF helicopters being deployed in the skies over Colombo for aerial surveillance of high-security zones like the Colombo Fort and Kolpetty areas, apart from strengthening the air defence cover around the summit.

The high-profile Indian armed presence is bound to attract some criticism in Sri Lanka. In fact, a section is already up in arms over the high costs of security, including hundreds of bullet-proof vehicles. Some nationalist groups are upset with reports that Indian security personnel will "swamp" Colombo when the PM is there.

Source: Time of India

6:40 AM

CMC Declares War

The Colombo Municipal Council has launched a rat control campaign in a bid to prevent an outbreak of leptospirosis, a rat borne disease. The campaign will be carried out in the areas surrounding the Colombo Port, the Borella market, Wanathamulla and the canal bank, the Chief Medical Officer of the CMC, Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam said yesterday.

The area demarcated is known as the city’s rat belt. The Council is using chemicals to destroy rats. Kariyawasam urged residents of these areas to refrain from throwing food and garbage on roads. Garbage is a fertile breeding ground for rats.

6:01 AM

Visa guidelines for UN, Int'l Organisations

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a set of guidelines to be followed for visa requests by UN and other International Organizations which have Status Agreements with the Government of Sri Lanka. The guidelines were circulated among all Heads of Organizations at a meeting chaired by Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama on Monday.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs functions as the principal line Ministry to the UN and other International Organizations which have concluded Status Agreements with the Government of Sri Lanka. Minister Bogollagama appreciated the important role played by the UN and International Organizations, in close partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka for many decades.

In recent years, the participation of these bodies in development co-operation, humanitarian assistance and disaster management work of the Government has increased.Taking into account the overall requirements of the Government, the new guidelines are intended to ensure the continuity of the functions carried out by these Organizations.

The Minister disclosed that the extensive inter-ministerial consultations which preceded the adoption of the guidelines were helpful in addressing internal co-ordination issues relevant to the process.Minister Bogollagama expressed confidence that, with the issuance of the updated guidelines, measures have been put in place to address outstanding issues related to visa matters in a mutually satisfactory manner.Neil Buhne, UNDP Resident Representative and Resident Co-ordinator appreciated the efforts made by the Foreign Ministry in resolving outstanding visa related issues.

This would enable the UN and other Organizations to perform their functions smoothly in partnership with the Government. Buhne also offered to cooperate with the Government in establishing relevant databases.