Multiple moves end blackout for Avurudu By Sandun Jayawardana Power crisis not yet over; experts shed light on urgent and long-term measures View(s): View(s):A combination of emergency power purchases, repairs to existing power plants and low demand during the Sinhala and Hindu New Year enabled the authorities to lift countrywide power cuts from Wednesday. The Power and Energy Ministry had earlier turned down a CEB request to announce scheduled power cuts. Consumers experienced daily four-hour power cuts — three hours during the day and one hour at night — for almost three weeks, leading to severe inconvenience. The economic cost of more than two weeks of scheduled power cuts is yet to be assessed. As per the proposal that was approved, electricity will be purchased from these companies at unit prices ranging from Rs.
Where have all the flowers gone ? By Oshani Alwis View(s): View(s):The scarlet Erabadu flowers in full bloom during the season of Avurudu are an unmistakable metaphor of the festival. The brilliant scarlet flowers of the true Katu Erabadu originally associated with the Avurudu season is a rare sight these days we are told. Elaborating on this phenomenon, Monica Wickramasinghe, Assistant Director, Gampaha Botanical Garden explained the reasons behind the scarcity of the majestic Katu Erabadu trees. Further the Katu Erabadu leaf is deltoid, rounded and somewhat resembles a ‘Bo leaf.’The Katu Erabadu leaves itself are rich in medicinal value as well.
Cycling far from the madding crowd By Kumudini Hettiarachchi A French couple, Pete Jarvis (72) and Pat Knowles (70) who were here on a two-week bicycle tour share their adventures View(s): View(s):Morning’s peak traffic time at Kaduwela junction! It was a “good ending” for a memorable trip on two wheels in this island-nation for husband-and-wife duo, Pete Jarvis (72) and Pat Knowles (70). Their meals they grabbed on the way and many are the tales they regale the Sunday Times with. “We bought our food from small boutiques,” says Pete, who loves spicy rice and curry which they could get for Rs. 100 per plate, while stopping over at little guest houses or enjoying home-stays which Pat describes as “wonderful”.
Anantha, the lord of the Naga world who had protective powers later brought it back from the Naga world to Earth. Betel leaves are also used for ‘ganudenu’ or transactions during the New Year and children receive a coin enclosed in betel leaves. They also arrange three betel leaves with two plantains or ½ a coconut as a special religious offering. “Betel leaves are a vital part of our New Year and other religious and cultural celebrations and we still use them frequently,” he stated. She says that in her family they worship their older relatives with betel leaves.
Voice of Praise service for Holy Week View(s):The Passion of Christ, a service for Holy Week will be sung by Voice of Praise Chamber Choir, directed by Denham Pereira, on Wednesday, 17th April at 6pm at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Polwatte. The worship service will be aided by readings from scripture and other works of poetry and prose..Among these are extracts from ‘The Coming’ by R.S. The choral works include ‘Crucifixus’ by Antonio Lotti, ‘Surely He hath borne our griefs’ from Handel’s Messiah, and O Vos Omnes by Pablo Casals. Organ solos before and after the service include Works by Peter Hurford and J.S. Voice of Praise is a chamber choir which specializes in sacred choral music.
More buses, more trains for the holiday season View(s):Additional buses and trains have been deployed for the convenience of commuters travelling to and from their homes during and after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. The Road Development Authority (RDA) is also taking measures to minimise traffic congestion at entry and exit points along the Southern Expressway. Sri Lanka Railways has deployed an additional 62 long distance special trains, Railways General Manager Dilanth Fernando told the Sunday Times. Accordingly, instead of system generated tickets, officers at toll gates will be issuing printed tickets by hand to minimise delays. The public can also call the expressway hotline on 1969 to check about traffic congestion along exit points, he said.
Fishing industry rogues blowing up marine habitat By Asiri Fernando View(s): View(s):Blast fishing, commonly referred to as dynamite fishing, an illegal and destructive form of fishing, is on the rise in Sri Lanka and is a serious cause for concern, experts warn. Once the the new habitat attracts a shoal of fish, dynamite is used to harvest the fish. In spite of risks and the marine damage, some fishermen are bent on making a quick profit. Dynamite fishing has been illegal for a long time and there are adequate laws to deal with it, Mr Perera pointed out. Dynamite fishing is one of five methods of sea fishing proscribed under the Fishery and Aquatic Resources Act of 1996 and its amendments.
A bumper paddy harvest brightens the New Year View(s):Today is a day of celebration. The bad weather that afflicted the country for three years ended and last year’s Yala harvest and this year’s Maha harvest are bumper ones. This year’s national New Year is brightened by the record Maha bumper paddy harvest. YalaThe 2018 Yala harvest of 1.9 million metric tons and the estimated Maha paddy crop of over 3 million tons is more than double the last harvest. The bumper Maha harvest that comes on top of a bumper Yala harvest means that the country is self-sufficient in rice this year.
Every time he travelled on work around the country, he would take his camera with him. It showcased a selection of photographs that illustrated the beauty and strength of Sri Lanka through peace, prosperity and tragedy. As he is leaving the country in a week, Hoang tells us that ‘Celebrating Ceylon’ was his last opportunity to showcase his love for the land and its people, through photographs he has taken during his four-years here. “I hope I have given a small snapshot of Sri Lanka from a different angle, and I hope people can see my passion and love for the country, ” he says. “This is the most beautiful country I’ve been in,” he tells us, and he hopes to give back to the country this way.
Cigarettes, liquor and passports View(s):There are a few commodities that are targeted quite often in preparing revenue proposals of the government budget. Traditionally, both traders and consumers anticipating tax increases on cigarettes and liquor, begin to respond even before the day of the Budget Speech. Owners of the boutiques and liquor shops, on the other hand, used to pile up stocks and hide them, pretending to their customers that cigarettes and liquor were all sold out to panicked customers. What is so common between the commodities like cigarettes or liquor and passports? Social attitude towards cigarettes and liquor as “bad and harmful” provides an additional justification for higher taxes on these commodities.
An evening of ‘many gems’ This year’s Gratiaen Prize shortlist was announced at an event at the British Council that also saw lively conversations with the long-listed authors View(s): View(s):This year, the lot of the Gratiaen judges was more unenviable than it had been in years past (though it must at the same time have been highly rewarding and thrilling). It was quite a large haul- in fact 42 entries- but even more overwhelming has been the quality of the work. A glance at the longlist suffices to affirm that this year’s yield is indeed ripe and rich- with, as Gill Caldicott said, ‘many gems’. The Gratiaen Prize 2018 will be awarded at a final awards ceremony, sponsored by Sarasavi Bookshop Private Limited, on June 9. The judges are Sumathy Sivamohan, filmmaker and academic; Saumya Liyanage, dramatist, actor and academic; Charulatha Thewarathanthri, writer; and Esther Surenthiraraj, university academic.
National minimum wage to be increased View(s):Sri Lanka’s national minimum wage per month for private sector workers is to be increased to Rs.12,500 from the current Rs. This assurance was given by Labour Minister Ravindra Samaraweera at a special meeting on Tuesday of the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC). Thus, once the gazette is issued giving legal effect to the proposal, private sector workers will be entitled to a minimum monthly wage of Rs. Trade union leader Palitha Athukorala, present at the discussion, said that this move will mostly benefit the informal sector while formal sector salaries are normally higher than this level. The Minister said he hopes to set up in future a tripartite Wages Commission for the private sector.
Seasonal colours By Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne View(s): View(s):During the Sinhala and Tamil New Year in April and continuing to May, cities such as Colombo witness a great flowering of trees, with roads literally carpeted with flowers. Here are some of the beautiful trees that grace Colombo, providing shade, carbon sequestration and colour. In a leaf with say five lobes, the two leaflets on the sides will be stalkless and the three central leaflets will have long stalks. Queen’s Flower -LagerstroemiaspeciosaIt can grow into a large tree, although the trees in Colombo for example are never very big. The tree has long, cylindrical pods up to a metre long.
Avurudu blues View(s):The air is fresh, as I step outside to absorb the silence. n Factories close sometimes for a week, which makes the villages and towns where they are located calm and tranquil. This situation could have easily been avoided if the authorities had approved several small power plants, solar power installations and other renewable energy options. Everyone knows that there are fewer showers during this time of the year to run hydro power plants,” asked Kalabala Silva. Prepare for a long period of politicking and bitter, verbal duels among political parties in preparation for elections this year.
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