withdraw from Elephant Pass
COLOMBO, April 23 (Reuters) - Sri
Lankan troops have withdrawn from their key Elephant
Pass base and as heavy fighting with Tamil Tiger rebels
rages at the gateway to northern Jaffna, military
officials said on Sunday.
Troops had "tactically" pulled back their
defence line north of Elephant Pass and the Iyakachchi
camp, the final bastion protecting the military base,
amid a heavy volume ofmortar and artillery fire by the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
"Heavy fighting continues. The army has
readjusted its defence lines north of Elephant
Pass," army spokesman Brigadier Palitha Fernando
was quoted as saying.
The LTTE said on Saturday they had overrun Elephant
Pass, which straddles the isthmus land route to Jaffna,
after storming Iyakachchi camp.
The giant Elephant Pass camp was manned by two
divisions of the Sri Lankan army. Unconfirmed reports
said a large number of troops were still unaccounted
The defence ministry said in a statement late on
Saturday that 49 soldiers had been killed and 383
wounded in the battle.
It said ground troops had confirmed that over 150
guerrillas had been killed on Saturday.
Officials of the International Committee of the Red
Cross told Reuters by phone in Colombo that they had no
word on casualties or on arrangements to hand over
The government launched an appeal on state radio for
Both sides have suffered hundreds of casualties since
the LTTE launched the latest offensive four weeks ago to
capture Jaffna, the stronghold they lost in 1996.
Independent verification of events is not possible as
journalists are not allowed into the war zone.
soldiers killed, 243 injured
By Norman Palihawadana
72 soldiers including Brigadier Percy Fernando
were killed while 422 were injured in the confrontation
between the LTTE and the security forces south of
Security sources said that about 150 Tigers were
"About 300 Tigers had come in tractors and
opened fire on the army using automatic artillery. A
leading captain of the LTTE is now under the custody of
the army," sources said.
Air Force launched attacks by MI-24 and KFIR crafts
on LTTE positions located south of Elephant Pass.
Meanwhile Northern Commanding Officer Major General
Janaka Perera instructed army officers about new war
Army Commander Sri Lal Weerasooriya also visited the
Senior army officers did not make any statement
regarding the re-capture of the Elephant Pass South area
by the LTTE.
Security sources said damages were caused on both
sides in the fights after the re-capture of the area by
Eastern Province Tigers also have joined the fight,
wants debate on Elephant Pass
By Kesara Abeywardena
The UNP will request the Speaker today to
summon a party leaders meeting immediately to have an
urgent debate in parliament regarding the present
situation in the North following the capture of a
section of Elephant Pass by the LTTE.
Chief Opposition Whip W. J. M. Lokubandara said
yesterday that he will make the request from speaker K.
B. Ratnayake today on the instructions of the Opposition
Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
He said that since the parliament is the supreme body
of peoples’ representatives and on handling the
country’s finances it should be briefed on the present
situation. "The government should not eyewash the
people about what’s going on in the North. We have a
right to know what’s happening," he said.
It is the party leaders or the Business Committee of
the Parliament that decides on the days the parliament
should meet. The parliament is expected to meet again on
for ban on imported cooking oil
The Sri Lanka Coconut Cultivators’ Association has
called for the import of cooking oil to be banned
immediately to arrest the fall of coconut prices.
A spokesman of the Association said coconut sold at
Rs. 4.50 at the beginning of this month is selling at Rs.
3 now. The main reason for the price drop is increase of
consumption and plenty of cooking oil in the market.
He said, the Association is taking steps to explain
to the Ministries of Finance, Trade and Plantation the
situation that the coconut industry is facing. He said
it was a severe threat to the industry that a 5% tax
relief granted on importation of cooking oil.
Senior food researchers of CISIR have recommended
coconut oil is much better than cooking oil.
It was also pointed out that the coconut oil is used
as a medicine for AIDS in Philippines.
open fire on luxury vehicle transporting illicit liquor
Peliyagoda police last week arrested a suspect
alongwith 900 bottles of illicit liquor transported in a
luxury vehicle which stopped only after police opened
fire on the vehicle.
Police sources said one of the suspects injured in
the shooting was admitted to the National Hospital,
Colombo. Another person travelling in the vehicle had
Peliyagoda police had ordered the Colombo bound white
colour corolla motor car to stop at Nuge road in
Peliyagoda. However the vehicle sped towards
Wellampitiya area. Police officers followed the vehicle
in a jeep and opened fire on it at Wellampitiya.
Police investigations are continuing.
animator, army deserter remanded for robbery
Polgahawela Circuit Magistrate Pleetus Deft
last week remanded a Samurdhi animator and suspected
army deserter who allegedly robbed goods worth about
rupees one lakh from a teacher’s house.
The two suspects are B. A. Gamini Herath of
Metikumbura, Polgahawela and S. P. Tissa of Pothuhera.
Police investigations have revealed that when the
teacher Nimal Sisira was away from home to see his
parents the suspects had entered the house through the
roof removing tiles and carried away a motorbike,
cassette recorder, television and cash.
Police said some robbed items were recovered.
Police investigations are on.
asked from PA MPs
The PA parliamentarians who were not present in
Parliament on April 5, when the government lost the
motion to abolish the Paddy Marketing Board by three
votes, have now been asked to give explanations.
The motion sought the approval of the House to
authorise Minister of Agriculture and Lands for the
dissolution of the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) and the
appointment of two liquidators.
With the defeat of the motion, it was dropped from
the next day’s Order Paper, i.e. April 6.
However, four days later, the Parliamentary
Secretariat issued an Addendum to the Order Paper
listing the motion for a fresh debate and vote on May 9.
Government had announced that the PA parliamentarians
who were absent when the government lost its motion on
PMB and the appointment of two liquidators will have to
explain the reasons for their absenteeism.
transfers on political grounds
WARAKAPOLA: P.A. controlled
Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council authorities transfer
teachers of Jatika Sevaka Sangamaya on political
grounds. In transfer lists names of pregnant teachers
who are seeking confinement leave are also included said
Jayathilaka Podinilame Leader of the Opposition
addressing a meeting held by Kegalle District
Teachers’ Jatika Sevaka Sangamaya held at Warakapola
Jayathilaka Podinilame further added in the transfers
lists there are names of teachers awaiting for
retirement. When I was the Chief Minister I had not
transferred any of the teachers on political grounds.
But now authorities are used to transfer teachers who
served in difficult areas for nine to ten years. When I
was the Chief Minister there was a transfer policy to be
followed in transferring teachers disregarding his or
her political affiliations. I request the Provincial
Council not to indulge in unnecessary teacher transfers
which annoy and frustrate them.
Teaching is a noble profession which is aimed at the
next generation of country. Unless they guide younger
generation on the correct path repercussions of their
omissions and commissions cannot be rectified until the
arrival of next generation. Hence it is our duty not to
spoil and hurt the teachers to stay in power.
Podinilame also asked the Sabaragamuwa Educational
Authority to immediately initiate a transfer policy to
bring solace to all the teachers in the area. Unless we
build a bridge with them, aim of sound education cannot
attack on Elephant Pass
Fierce clashes were taking place in the general area
Elephant Pass, armed forces spokesman Brigadier Palitha
Fernando said last night.
Security forces yesterday afternoon abandoned some of
their positions north east and north of Elephant Pass.
"In the early hours of Saturday, terrorists
launched a major offensive against the troops defending
forward defence lines in general areas Iyakachchi and
Elephant Pass," Brigadier Fernando said around
10.40 last night.
Troops readjusted their defence lines north of
Elephant Pass, he said adding that during the day’s
confrontations 49 officers and men were killed in action
and 243 wounded. Approximately 150 officers and men had
suffered minor injuries.
He placed the number of terrorists killed in and
around Elephant Pass as around 150.
"The fighting is continuing in the area,"
LTTE’s statement disallowed
The LTTE yesterday evening issued a special statement
making certain claims. The statement was disallowed by
the Competent Authority.
The following story was submitted to Competent
Authority before fighting broke out in Elephant Pass.
A day after the newly appointed Overall Operations
Commander [OOC] Major General Janaka Perera arrived in
Palaly, Jaffna troops went on the offensive, trying to
block a major infiltration route to the peninsula.
Armour led troops moved in against strong enemy
groups operating at Ariyalai situated just across the
terrorist held Pooneryn as the field guns engaged
targets in the general area.
Major General Perera flew to Palaly late Thursday
 to re-organise the government war effort in the
peninsula after President Chandrika Kumaratunga demanded
an all out effort amidst a crisis situation triggered
off by terrorist attacks mounted two days before.
The presidential directive has been given from abroad
after authorities in Colombo got in touch with her after
(CENSORED) terrorist offensive threatened more
government held areas in Jaffna.
The sources said that the government has told the top
brass that they should regain control of the areas lost
to terrorists during the current bout of fighting since
The military said that action is being taken to do
whatever possible to prevent easy access to the LTTE
from the Wanni mainland to the Jaffna peninsula.
The LTTE regained a foothold in the general area
Ariyalai and Thanankilappu in December last year and has
been using these points to send in men and material to
mount operations in support of their main push that came
in late March in the Vadamarachchy east and
At least six terrorists were killed and dozens
wounded during initial stages of the ongoing operation,
the military said adding that later in day troops fired
at boats coming from Pooneryn on the Wanni mainland in
the direction of Ariyalai. "They were probably
coming to evacuate the casualties," a senior
officer said pointing out heavy security forces fire
forced the boats to turn back.
He said that a lot would depend on the army’s
ability to block infiltration points and go on the
offensive at the same time.
The Ariyalai operation came as the military on
Thursday  repulsed a series of fierce terrorist
attacks on their defences in Soranpattu area, an area
targeted by terrorists since last Tuesday.
During the initial stages of battles in this area and
neighbouring villagers last Tuesday, troops were forced
(CENSORED) take up new defences. Thursday’s attacks
were aimed at forcing the army to abandon their new
However, during Thursday’s battles, troops repulsed
three heavy attacks on their Soranpattu defences. The
military said that terrorists withdrew from some of
their positions from where they mounted assaults after
their third attempt failed to dislodge the army.
At least 30 terrorists were killed in Soranpattu
However, strong enemy groups operate in the area and
monitored enemy transmissions indicate that large groups
had been withdrawn from their positions for
re-deployment in the Jaffna theatre.
Meanwhile, troops on Friday  afternoon repulsed
an LTTE boat landing south west of Muhavil. The LTTE
regained the Vadamarachchy east in the last week of
March and has been sending groups across the narrow
lagoon to support cadres attacking the Main Supply Route
[MSR] particularly between Pallai and Mirusuvil.
The military said that the LTTE suffered heavy losses
when troops and Mi-24 helicopter gunships engaged the
boats moving to a location south west of Muhavil.
About 30 minutes after the Muhavil boat landings
failed, terrorists mounted the first of their three
major attacks on the army’s Iyakachchi defences for
the day. At least two soldiers were killed and 31
including four officers wounded, some of them seriously
during these confrontations. Troops believe that over 20
terrorists were killed during Iyakachchi confrontations.
The government while placing Major General Janaka
Perera incharge of the entire war effort in the North
and the East provinces, replaced Jaffna Security Forces
Commander Major General Chula Seneviratne with Major
General Sarath Fonseka, a veteran in ground battles.
Fonseka, wounded in action a number of times had been
also considered for the post of the OOC previously.
State Dept. pressure over international telephone
The dispute between Lanka Internet Services Ltd. (LISL)
and the telecommunication authorities here has been
taken up in Washington by senior State Department
officials with Minister G. L. Pieris at the recently
concluded IMF meetings, the company said.
The international telecom industry is bound to take a
very grim view of these developments," the company
said in a statement which among other things alleged
that the U.S. - Sri Lanka Investment Protection Treaty
had been "flouted openly." LISL’s principal
investor is a U.S. corporation.
According to the company statement, this dispute has
been raised with Prof. Peiris by Assistant Secretary of
State (South Asia), Carl. F. Inderfurth and Alan Larsen,
Under Secretary of State for Economics and Business.
LISL described itself as a licenced
telecommunications operator providing among others
enhanced voice services within the terms and confines of
its licence. But the Telecommunication Regulatory
Commission of Sri Lanka appeared to be taking the
position that these operations "infringe on a
non-existent monopoly of Sri lanka Telecom."
"Enhanced voice" has been defined by the
regulatory authority here as "voice transmitted in
the form of packetised data in a compressed form at a
lower bit rate." In effect, the dispute centers
round LISL allegedly undercutting SLT on international
phone calls for which SLT claims a monopoly until August
Lanka Internet which has rejected the allegations
levelled against it as unsubstantiated and without a
shred of proof says that if they are in any way
violating the conditions of their licence, there is a
procedure to be followed and they must be given an
opportunity of presenting their case.
The company which claims that three operators
including itself are authorised by their licence terms
to provide "enhanced voice services" accused
various state authorities’’ of resorting to
roundabout measures to pressure them to cease their
enhanced voice operations.
It further states that the CID has to date not filed
objections in the fundamental rights action they have
filed over this dispute end "appears to be dragging
its feet" in a case filed in the Fort
set up, scrapped and restored
In an unprecedent move, President Chandrika
Kumaratunga on Friday (21) reactivated the all powerful
post of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Joint
Operations Headquarters (JOH), a post she herself
scrapped on June 9, last year.
General Rohan De. S. Daluwatte who held that post for
less than a week in early June last year has been
reappointed to the CDS of the JOH.
The post was created by issuing an extraordinary
gazette on May 27 last year under Section 5 of the
Public Security Ordinance. The three service commanders
and the IGP were also placed under the Chief of the
Defence Staff of the JOH while making him a member of
the National Security Council (NSC) headed by the
According to the May 27 gazette, the NSC comprises
the President, the deputy defence minister, secretary to
the President, Secretary to the Defence Ministry, the
CDS, the service commanders, the IGP and the director
general of Internal Intelligence.
Seven days after the creation of the post, General
Daluwatte was appointed the CDS of the JOH by issuing
another extraordinary gazette notification. The gazette
dated June 3 said that "it is hearby notified that
in terms of Regulation 5 of the Emergency (National
Security Council) Regulations No 01 of 1999 General R.
De. S. Daluwatte, WWV, RWP, RSP, VSV, USP has been
appointed by the President to be the Chief of Defence
Staff of the Joint Operations Headquarters with effect
from May 31, 1999.
However, the government issued another extraordinary
gazette notification six days later, scrapping the post
of the CDS of the JOH. Informed government sources said
that the President ordered the scrapping of the post
saying that she had not been aware of the crucial and
far reaching changes in the command and control
structure of the armed forces.(SF)
to stop destruction of Ma-Oya valley
Text and pix. by Kuliyapitiya Corr.
There are many institutions, a ministry,
authorities and NGOs that deal with the conservation of
environment but the destruction of Ma-Oya valley goes on
unabated. So far there have been few calls to curb this
destruction of environment in the area.
There are more than a hundred tile factories in the
Wennappuwa Pradeshiya Sabha area, in addition thousands
of brick kilns in the Ma-Oya valley.
Hundreds of lorries come up to Giriulla to transport
sand, bricks and tiles to the different parts of the
Sand mining and clay mining are the main occupations
of the people residing in either side of Ma-Oya. It is
their livelihood, but the environmental destruction
caused by these occupations is tremendous.
Due to the largescale sand mining in Ma-Oya the bed
of the river is gone down more than 20 feet. The wells
in the close proximity of the river have run dry as all
the fountains that feed water into the river.
In the lower Ma-Oya area down Sandalankawa and
Dikwela no sand is found in the river bed, but only
At the same time the clay pits are so deep that there
is no clay but only sand is found.
Now the clay mining is done in the river bed and sand
mining is done in clay pits.
According to the by laws the North Western Provincial
Council passed and gazetted in 1998 on clay mining, the
clay pits should be filled. That is the law in the
gazette, but no authorities enforce that law. The pits
are opened so the Ma-Oya had changed its course.
Since the clay mining is done both in the river and
in the high land, the river bank is subject to erosion.
So the highlands in the Ma-Oya valley are gradually
It is said that thousand earn a living through clay
and sand mining. Tile factories and brick kilns too are
depending on the clay. Thousands work in them.
The argument is that if environment destruction is
taken into consideration and the work is stopped those
who are engaged in clay and sand mining and working in
tile factories and bricks kiln have to starve.
It is an argument true, but due to this largescale
clay mining the Ma-Oya will invade the highlands
changing its course one day or the other. Then those who
are engaged in clay mining in the area will not have a
place at least to live.
It is alleged that political protection is given to
those who mine clay. Even the politicians themselves do
The authorities engaged in environmental conservation
are blind to these environmental destruction. They only
hold seminars on environmental conservation, residents
Kidney transplant operation successful
KANDY: The second kidney transplant
operation at the Kandy General Hospital on Tuesday (18)
too was successful the hospital authorities disclosed.
The first was successfully carried out two days ago
at the Kandy General Hospital.
On Tuesday a kidney was replaced on a woman patient
Mallika Podimenike from Kegalle area.
The donor was her brother R. Dissanayake, hospital
The patient and the donor were doing well, Dr.
Keerthi Jayatilake Director, Kandy General Hospital
Dr. H. Hemachandra led the team of surgeons in
performing the operation on the directions of Dr. Tilak
Abeysekera sources said.