Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Flexible tariff system for all ports on the cards: Sinha


CAPTION: Union Shipping Minister G. K. Vasan (Centre) during the release of knowledge paper on maritime sector at the inauguration of India Maritime -2012, held at Panaji, Goa. Also seen (from left) are: FICCI Advisor Rajan Kohli, Mormugao Port Trust Deputy Chairman Biplav Kumar; Union Shipping Secretary P. K. Sinha; Ernst & Young's Soumitra Pandey; Essar Port CEO Rajiv Agarwal and Goa Chamber President Manguirish N Pai Raiker.
Source: www.sagarsandesh.com

PANAJI:
Strongly advocating for a level playing field for all-round growth in the shipping sector, Union Shipping Secretary P. K. Sinha has announced that the Shipping Ministry is in the advanced stages of introducing flexible tariff determination system for all ports.
Delivering the key-note address during the inaugural session of India Maritime - 2012, jointly organized by the Shipping Ministry and FICCI at Panaji, Goa, Mr. Sinha said: “The Government has to create a friendly regulatory environment particularly relating to tariff determination in the port sector.”
He further stated: “We have already started moving in that direction, we are in the advanced stage of  formulating a new very simplified TAMP guideline. We have started consultation with the Planning Commission and we have sought comments of all the stakeholders including the ports and IPPTA. Based on your comments we would simplify it in the first phase and in the second phase, we will try get rid of tariff determination by any authority, so that the port or the operators themselves fix tariff determined on market conditions.
Elaborating about the key challenges in port development, Mr. Sinha stated: “There are two main challenges like port connectivity gap and dredging, which are affecting the growth of ports.” “As far as the port connectivity gap is concerned, there are several gaps still exist in terms of port connectivity, road connectivity or rail connectivity. We are working on that and have set up a committee, which is identifying precisely the gap that remains in both major and non-major ports so that we can take them up with NHAI or Railways and put them on the fast track of development,” he added.
Speaking on the second major challenge, Mr. Sinha observed: “Dredging is the one area which continues to remain weak in the country. Need for dredging is tremendous as the draft in our ports has still to be increased on par with international level. In the case of maintenance of dredging, a lot has to be done every year. Therefore, we collectively need to do something about increasing the capacity.”
Speaking in black and white about the sector, which is headed by none other than him, Mr. Sinha voiced concern: “Shipping sector has not really kept pace with the growth of the economy. Today only about 8 to 9% of the total EXIM cargo of the country is carried by Indian tonnage (Indian vessels).This is not a happy situation at all. If you look at any other developed country, you will find that by and large, the country’s cargo is carried by their own vessels.”
Mr. Sinha deplored: “If you see our share in Indian tonnage in global terms, it is only one per cent. So, the shipping industry has clearly lagged behind. When we tried to understand what are the reasons, why they are not happening and what are the challenges we are facing, the first thing that comes to mind is that we need to create a level playing field.” 

Minister allays fears of port users in Goa



CAPTION:Union Shipping Minister G. K. Vasan and Union Shipping Secretary P. K. Sinha jointly cutting the ribbon to mark the inauguration of the India Maritime-2012 exhibition at Panaji, Goa,  on Oct. 17, as Chairmen of Goa, JNPT and Chennai ports look on.

-Vasan injects a new lease of life
-Goa Port is passing through difficult times for some time, as arrival of its main cargo items - coal and iron ore - had been stopped abruptly 
-In future the port will handle container also.
Source: www.sagarsandesh.com
PANAJI:
In an attempt to keep the stakeholders of shipping and export-import fraternity in Goa happy, who were facing uncertain future due to sudden stoppage of coal and iron ore handling at Goa Port, Union Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan has announced that his Ministry is taking efforts to convert the port into a multi-cargo handling port.
Making the much-anticipated announcement during the inauguration of the India Maritime-2012, organized at Panaji, Goa, Mr. Vasan said: “Shipping Ministry is making sincere efforts to utilize Goa Port facility as multi-product handling port.”
It may be noted here that the Goa Port is passing through difficult times for some time, as arrival of its main cargo items - coal and iron ore - had been stopped abruptly due to various reasons. Because of the sudden stoppage, EXIM fraternity in Goa is in jitters over financial commitments and counting the losses day by day.
The Minister stated: “We are aware of the difficulties faced by the Goa Port. It has to depend on a few cargoes like iron ore and coal. We are making efforts to diversify the cargo needs of the port to achieve some success in utlising the port for wheat export by Food Corporation of India (FCI) and also export and import of medicine
In future the port will handle container also, he added.
Facing uncertain future due to the sudden stoppage of both the cargo, EXIM fraternity and the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) had represented the issue to various agencies, including the Shipping Ministry, for early solution to tide over the crisis.
Speaking to Sagar Sandesh, Mr Manguirish N Pai Raiker, President of Goa Chamber, said: “Mining is one of the main industries in Goa and majority of the people here are linked to the mining operations one way or the other. Sudden stoppage of coal and iron ore had made our lives uncertain.”
“Until the crisis ends, we appeal to the Government and the concerned departments to take action to ease financial burdens faced by the industry,” Mr. Raiker pleaded. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Burundi, Eritrea, Haiti top 2012 global hunger index


By Katie Nguyen
LONDON (AlertNet) - Twenty countries have "alarming" or "extremely alarming" levels of hunger with Burundi the worst affected, followed by Eritrea and Haiti, according to this year's Global Hunger Index which examines the problem of producing more food with fewer resources.
Demographic changes, increases in income, climate change and poor policies are worsening a shortage of natural resources like land, water and energy that threatens food production, the accompanying report said.
"It is an absolute must that we start now to produce more food using fewer resources and to use the harvest more efficiently. But we also face the reality that decades of effort and rhetoric have so far failed to eradicate hunger," the foreword to the report said.
Progress in reducing the proportion of hungry people in the world has been "tragically slow" and 20 countries are experiencing "alarming" or "extremely alarming" hunger levels, the report said.
About 12.5 percent of the world's population, one in every eight people, is chronically undernourished, according to new figures unveiled by the United Nations' food agencies this week.
The U.N. agencies said 868 million people were hungry in 2010-2012, down more sharply than previously estimated from about 1 billion, or 18.6 percent of the global population, in 1990-92.
South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa continue to face the highest levels of hunger, the Global Hunger Index report said.
But because of  time lags in obtaining data, the report does not reflect last year's hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa or the unfolding food emergency in West Africa's semi-arid Sahel region.
The index, now in its seventh year, combines three indicators – the proportion of the population that is undernourished, the proportion of young children who are underweight and the mortality rate for under-fives.
Among its recommendations, the report calls for:
  • smallholder land and water rights to be secured
  • subsidies for fuels and fertiliser to be phased out
  • technical solutions that conserve natural resources to be scaled up
The report, compiled by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Welthungerhilfe, and Concern Worldwide is released ahead of World Food Day on Oct. 16.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

China’s Real Boost in Sea Power Isn’t A Rinky-Dink Aircraft Carrier


By Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson
Now that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has commissioned its first aircraft carrier and may be looking to assemble one or more carrier groups over time, what about the rest of the fleet?
One development that carries broad implications for the enhancement of Chinese sea power is the recent launch of the first editions of the new 6,000-ton Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyer, which marks a new stage in the PLAN’s prolonged period of experimentation with different destroyers.
The Type 052D represents an evolution of the existing Type 052C Luyang II-class destroyer. The latter are now in mass production, with 8 hulls in service, the first commissioned in 2004. At least six 052Cs have been launched since the end of 2010, according to Chinese media reports, of which two are reportedly in service at present. Beijing appears to have decided that the Type 052 series, a rough analog of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers that form the backbone of the U.S. Navy, is the latest class of warship whose design is good enough to justify large-scale production.
While China mass-produced lower-quality Romeo- (Type 033) and Ming-class (Type 035) submarines and Jianghu-class (Type 053) frigates in an earlier era, today’s large-scale warship production meets much higher standards and is geared primarily to replacing older vessels entering mass obsolescence rather than expanding the fleet numerically. That said, it is well within China’s shipbuilding capabilities to both boost the quality of the fleet and boost its numerical strength, should the country’s leadership decide to do so.
If China fielded 10-15 advanced destroyers like the Type 052D, it would, holding other numbers constant, become the second-largest surface combat force in the Asia-Pacific region after the U.S. Navy. Given the rapid ramp-up of Type 052C production in the past several years, we think the prospect of similar mass production of the Type 052D is quite possible. As a mass-produced vessel class, the Type 052D may now be joining China’s 60+ Houbei-class (Type 022) missile catamarans, 16-19 Jiangkai II-class (Type 054A) air defense frigates, 13 Song-class (Type 039) and 8-9 Yuan-class (Type 041) conventional submarines, and 3 Yuzhao-class (Type 071) amphibious assault ships.
Why mass production of the Type 052D matters strategically
The Type 052D’s emergence suggests that China’s naval shipbuilding capability is maturing further, with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) ‘s new shipyardon Shanghai’s Changxing Island becoming a capable facility for constructing modern surface combatants. It offers further evidence that China can produce warships quickly using modular construction techniques and perhaps other advantages such as lower cost labor than its competitors can access. Series production tends to reduce unit costs because shipyard workers and suppliers find ways to increase efficiency as they spend significant time and energy on the same tasks and improve their operational practices.
Analysis by RAND demonstrates that doubling the procurement rate of warships in the U.S. decreased unit costs by 10%. Given that Chinese shipbuilders are still building up their modern naval construction industrial base, the efficiency gains in China are likely to be larger as domestic efficiency increases and Chinese manufacturers displace foreign parts that may cost more.
The modular construction capabilities now on display in CSSC’s yards took time to develop, but now China’s warship builders are creating a wide and deep base of expertise in the area. CSSC has been employing such techniques on the Jiangkai series frigates, the first hull of which was commissioned in 2005, as well as the Type 052C and now the Type 052D. This shows that at least three different Chinese shipyards are now able to mass produce advanced surface combatants, which demonstrates that China’s military shipbuilding institutions are clearly becoming “learning organizations.”
The 052D differs significantly from its predecessor the Type 052C in several important ways. It has a completely different type of vertical launch system (“VLS”), with missile canisters instead of what look like revolvers; a different gun system; and what appear to be bigger phased-array radar faces. The VLS system is potentially the biggest development. The 052C’s likely complement of 64 VLS tubes with a more advanced surface-to-air missile (“SAM”) will offer strong area air defense capability, which can enhance the combat effectiveness of other PLAN surface ships and submarines by protecting them from enemy strike and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
Meanwhile, China’s long-established cruise missile industry is producing a wide range of extremely capable anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs). China’s record to date of developing advanced ASCMs gives every reason to believe that new variants of even greater capability will continue to emerge and be outfitted on PLAN vessels like the Type 052D.
Strategic questions moving forward
A host of important questions remain regarding the Type 052D, the answers to which would help military planners and policymakers outside of China better understand the impact that the ship is likely to have. The answers to many of these questions–for instance, how good shipboard electronics systems are and how well crews can use their ship to fight modern battles–will become clearer over time as the PLAN makes decisions regarding operational approaches and training intensity and more Chinese sailors gain experience through both tours in the Gulf of Aden and exercises closer to home.
The Type 052D appears to be a very modern warship that, with continued improvements in China’s maritime surveillance and targeting infrastructure and more intensive training of crews, can help make the PLA Navy even more formidable throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Regional neighbors such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea are likely to respond by augmenting their own navies and reaffirming diplomatic and security ties with the U.S.
Andrew Erickson is a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and a research associate at Harvard’s Fairbank Center. Co-founder of China SignPost, he blogs at www.andrewerickson.com.
Gabe Collins is co-founder of China SignPost, founder of ChinaOilTrader.com and is a J.D. candidate at the University of Michigan Law School.
(c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Menik Farm Lie: ‘Who says we are resettled’ asks an IDP


Source: http://www.lankastandard.com/2012/09/the-menik-farm-lie-who-says-we-are-resettled-asks-an-idp/

By Nirmala Kannangara 

“As you know the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) will take place in Geneva in November, 2012. It is through this the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) will examine the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. The government wants to score marks by announcing that they were able to re-settle all the IDPs who were in Manik Farm. That was why wide publicity was given about this ‘resettlement’ during the past few days. Only we know as to how the last batch of IDPs were ‘resettled’ in this Suriyapuram camp,” – military personnel at the Suriyapuram camp  

Reporting from Puthukkudiyiruppu and Nandikadal in Mullaitivu:


In order to win over the international community and window dress itself before the crucial Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council coming up this October and November, the government has been engaging in a series of cosmetic gestures. The most recent being the closure of the Menik Farm internment camps which once held over 300,000 detainees.
Displaced and then displaced again
However the Government’s claim to have resettled the last batch of IDPs, who were in the Kadiragamar and Ananda Kumaraswamy relief villages at Menik Farm over the past three years, is just another whitewash.
Although the government maintained that the remaining IDP’s who from the Kepapilaw Grama Niladhari Division and Manduwil area have been re-settled in their respective villages, they are still in small tents at the Suriyapuram camp.
Suriyapuram camp – Media not allowed 
Suriyapuram camp which is situated in close proximity to the Security Forces Head Quarters in Mullaitivu is guarded by a group of army personnel and the media is not allowed to visit the IDPs, in fear of the facts being reported.
Media told to get permission
When The Lankastandard visited Suriyapuram camp in Nandikadal on Wednesday September 26, 2012 to report on the efficacy of the ‘re-settlement’ programme of the IDPs and the progress thereof, the army stops us in our tracks. The military personnel at the check point told us we could not proceed unless we had either the permission of the District Secretary Mullaitivu or the Civil Affairs Officers of the Security Forces Headquarters Mullaitivu Col. Bandara or Col. Fernando at 59 Division.
Pillar to post
Though we tried to get through to Col Bandara on the phone his phone was switched off.  We then visited Col. Fernando at his office of the 59 Division but was  again told we now needed to  contact the District Secretary (DS) Mullathivu.
“Col. Bandara is in charge of all the security arrangements and is on leave for five days. Since he is not available get the DS Mullaitivu’s permission,”  Col. Fernando told us.
Though we asked to speak to someone of a higher rank in order to get the permission to visit the IDPs he was unable to provide this information.
“I am at the 59 Division and do not know who the second in command at the Security Forces Headquarters in Mullaitivu is. I’m sorry I’m unable to help you,” Col Fernando added.
However DS Mullaitivu, Mr. Nagalingam Vedanayagam when contacted was surprised by these blocks and informed us we could proceed as media as he had certainly not imposed any restrictions as claimed by the army.
Passing the buck
Realizing that the army officers were stalling and buying time by passing the buck from one person to another until late evening so that it would become difficult for us to travel and speak to people once night fell, we decided to return to the army makeshift post once again to attempt to find out what the real reason for this elaborate push back in not not allowing us to go to the camps was.
The great stage play
One of the younger army officers at the Security Forces Headquarters, Mullaitivu now decided to open up having first looked around to check none of his comrades could hear him. Having observed how we were trying to get permission to enter the Suriyapuram camp he told us it must raise concerns as to why the media is not allowed in.
“Why can’t the army allow the media to visit this camp? The media personnel should understand the secret behind this move,” he said refusing to give his name or rank in fear.
Few facilities
According to him, the last batch of IDPs was not re-settled but sent from the Kadirgamar and Ananda Kumaraswamy camps to ‘another’ camp with very few facilities.
“As you know the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) will take place in Geneva in November, 2012. It is through this the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) will examine the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. The government wants to score marks by announcing that they were able to re-settle all the IDPs who were in Manik Farm. That was why wide publicity was given about this ‘resettlement’ during the past few days. Only we know as to how the last batch of IDPs were ‘resettled’ in this Suriyapuram camp,” he added.
“President Rajapakse was here yesterday (September 25th) opening new offices but even he did not think of visiting the camp,” this young officer said shaking his head.
According to this officer who had  visited the IDPs in Menik Farm’s Zone No: 2 and 3 – namely the Ramanadhan and Arunachalam relief camps and in his opinion they lived a comfortable life even in those camps compared to the camp the last batch of IDPs are now being housed in order to show the world that the Menik Farm is closed.
“They were in tin sheet huts with cement floors but now live in ramshackle huts with only a camp cloth above their heads,” he added.
Two IDPS tell us their story
Although the army tried to prevent the real issue being highlighted in the media, we were able to speak to two IDPs who have come out of this camp to visit their families.
Marimuttu Periyasamy an IDP from the last batch said they are suffering immensely after shifting from Kadirgamar relief camp to Suriyapuram camp.
We are not resettled. Who says we are resettled?
Manikkam was yet another person whom we met on our way beck. He too is an IDP in the Suriyapuram camp. “We were not given anything. Who says that we have been re-settled. We were taken out from the Manik Farm and bought to the Aranaganwila school day before yesterday (Monday September 25). There we were asked to go anywhere we wish to which we opposed. Then we were brought to this camp. We do not have proper drinking water facility or sanitation facility. It was better if we were allowed to stay at the Manik Farm without ‘re-settling’ us under the trees,” said Manikkam
Resettled under trees
“We were not given anything. Who says that we have been re-settled. We were taken out from the Manik Farm and bought to the Aranaganwila school day before yesterday (Tuesday September 25). There we were asked to go anywhere we wished to which we were opposed. Then we were brought to this camp. We do not have proper drinking water facilities nor sanitation facilities. It was better if we were allowed to stay at the Manik Farm without ‘re-settling’ us under trees,” said Manikkam.

Saraswathi’s story

from Thimbili, Puthukkudiyiruppu
Sarasthwathi had to leave Kumaraswamy relief village on September 18 and is trying hard to earn a living for her family.
“I am not married and looking after my sister’s daughter. When this girl was away in school, a shell fell on to my sister’s house killing her and the son on the spot. I decided not to get married so I could look after my niece who is now in grade 9,” Saraswathi told us.
According to her, the government only provided cooked meals during the first few days at Kumaraswamy camp but it was an NGO that provided dry rations after that until she left.
“It was the NGOs that brought us here and gave us camp cloths for the roof. The tin sheets that covered our ‘houses’ in the camp were given to us. We were told that the NGO will provide us dry rations but so far we have no received this,” she added.

Indrani’s story

Indrani is a single mother of two who had came from the Kadirgamar camp on August 8, 2012.
She too said that she got the tin sheets and the camp cloth for her house but added that she was starving for two days.
“I am a heart patient and cannot engage in hard work. Earlier I collected pieces of aluminum and sold that to feed my children. But there are no more aluminum pieces only metal pieces. But the army is not allowing us to even collect them. However men collect those secretly. I do not even have a glass of tea from yesterday,” she said.
Indrani’s husband too was a victim to a shell. On January 2, 2009 a shell fell on our house and he died because we could not take him to the hospital.
Indrani found it hard to tlak to us for long lying on the ground at one time as she felt faintish.
“This morning I drank medicine after having a cup of water. My whole body is lifeless now,” she explained.

Manjula’s story

Manjula too is a single mother who undergoes severe difficulties. She lost her husband on April 15, 2009 in Wellimulla Waikkal.
“We had a good life in Kumaraswamy camp. Now we are suffering immensely. No food, no proper drinking water or  a decent hut to live with my children,” she said.

Sangeetha’s story

Sangeetha too had come from Arunachalam camp and said that her husband was taken away by the army but did not return.
“I met my husband during school days. My husband was later conscripted by the LTTE forcibly. When my child was two and a half he was taken away by the army and he never returned,” she said.

Ranjani’s story 

Meanwhile Ranjani narrated a different tale of woe. She complained that their lands had been taken over by the army and not returned to them.
“We came to Puthukkudiyiruppu from Paranthan in 1995. This was a thick jungle and was under attack from both LTTE and army. However we cleared the jungle and got a house built which was along the main road. We had to drive away the wild elephants to protect our cultivations. But now we were not given our lands claiming that they have to be developed. However that land has now been given to two families known to the Land Registrar at the Divisional Secretary’s office she alleged. There is no one to stand by us. We are harassed from all quarters.
Nothing without Defence Ministry approval
All attempts to get the exact details about the last IDP batch from Captain Suminda at Ananda Kumaraswamy relief village and Major C. Abeykoon at Kadirgamar relief village were not successful. According to them, details of the last batch of IDPs have to be given only with the Defence Ministry approval.
Some families resettled
However a reliable source at Kadirgamar relief village on condition of anonymity said that 56 families who hail from Kepapilaw Grama Niladhari Division and 121 families who hail from Manduwil were re-settled on September 24.
Menik farm
“In this Manik Farm there were a total of eight relief villages set up. They were from Zone 0-7. Zone 0- was the Kadirgamar relief village, Zone 1- Ananda Kumaraswamy relief village, Zone 2- Ramanadan relief village and Zone 3- Arunachalam relief village. All these zones were named after distinguished Tamil leaders. THe rest of the zones from 4-7 did not have names but were identified from the zone numbers,” he explained to us.
No comment on where the IDPs were taken
Although he furnished details about those who left the camp on Monday September 24, he did not wish to make any comment as to where the IDPs were taken.
“Extremely sorry cannot comment on that,” he said.

Journalist and Photographer threatened

My photographer and I  who were in Mullaitivu on Wednesday and Thursday were stopped from entering the Suriyapuram camp in Nandikadal by the army officers on guard. This was the camp where the last batch of IDPs from the Manik Farm was brought to although the government claimed they were re-settled in their villages.
Not only did they stop us from entering the Suriyapuram camp, they threatened us not to write anything detrimental to them.
One of the army officers who were inside the makeshift camp shouted at me to leave the area immediately and warned me not to write anything against the camp and the IDP grievances but to ‘mind my own business’.
Worst job
“You people are paid by the NGOs and what ever they ask, you are prepared to dance to their tunes. Journalists job is the worst found in this country. They are trying to make a living from reporting detrimental issues, which is not right. Get out from here if not we know what to do,” he warned.
Meanwhile my photographer  took out his camera and captured a series of photographs as the threats were being made.
Realizing they were now on camera more than 15 army personnel surrounded our photographer armed with assault riffles pointing at him, he was manhandled and attempts were made to pull his camera. However he was brave enough to stand by his feet firm shouting ‘if my camera is taken I will give wide publicity to this harassment over the independent media and see what will happen next,” he said.
Even the driver of our vehicle was not spared. He was not allowed to turn the vehicle to go back but forced to reverse to the main road which was quite a long distance. Meanwhile seeing the danger we were all in at the moment I decided to have the pictures deleted and on my request, our photographer deleted the pictures in front of these army men so they would be satisfied and feel less threatened. Meanwhile they also wanted him to delete the pictures he has taken earlier to which he did not heed.

District Secretary says YES army says NO

District Secretary Nagalingam Vedanayagam when contacted to get permission to enter the Suriyapuram camp said that there are no restrictions for any visitor to enter the camp.
“I have not imposed any restrictions. Who said that anyone who wants to enter this camp area has to get my approval? This is not true. Tell them that I told you that restrictions have not been imposed,” he said.

Cannot give details over the phone send me the questions in an email says Lakshman Hullugalle

Director General Media Center for National Security Lakshman Hullugalle wanted us to forward all questions regarding the final batch of IDPs to his email promising to respond. However we have yet to receive Hullugalle’s response the questions.

We were dragged to this camp when we wanted to protest- Marimuttu Periyasami

Periyasami was one of the IDPs who was ‘resettled’ on Monday September 24 at the Kaiveli Ganesha Vidyalayam (School) in Puthukkudiyiruppu. We met him on our way back after our  unsuccessful attempt to enter Suriyapuram camp.
When we stopped our vehicle at a small junction in Nandikadal to ask for directions to Mullaitivu town, Periyasamy approached us speaking in Tamil. We were lucky enough to have a Tamil speaking driver who talked with Periyasamy.
In fact Periyasamy had witnessed the altercation we were a part of at the army check point and had seen how we had been threatened by the army personnel who were guarding the Suriyapuram camp. He had then decided to seek us out to talk to us.
“At Kadirgamar relief camp we lived a comfortable life – in cement floored tin roofed tents. But now we are being pushed from pillar to post. We were taken to Kaiveli Ganesha Vidyalayam in Puthukkudiyiruppu and then we were told we could go to our native villages. This is unfair. We don’t have anywhere to go. If we don’t have any place to go where have we to get back to?  That was why we decided to protest against this ill-treatment. We were then brought here because President Mahinda Rajapaksa came to Mullaitivu yesterday,” said Periyasamy.
According to him the disabled are well looked after by the army but the rest of the people do not get much attention.

Sri Lanka: Time for Action, Not Action Plans


Masters of prevarication, the Sri Lankan Government is once again stalling the UN's attempt to ensure an open assessment of the brutal final stages of the country's civil war. The regime is probably hoping interest will fade, but every day it refuses a fair examination of some 40,000 civilian deaths is another small step away from reconciliation between the Sinhalese-dominated state and Tamils, and toward the next ethnic conflict.
Colombo's contempt for the international community seems to know no bounds. Six months after the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) requested that Sri Lanka address its culture of impunity and badly damaged rule of law, the regime has taken no concrete action.
The HRC's March resolution on 'Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka' requested the government 'address alleged violations of international law'. It also called on the country to prepare a 'comprehensive action plan detailing the steps that the Government has taken and will take to implement the recommendations' of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), the Government-appointed body that looked into the military's crimes at the end of the war.
The Sri Lankan Government's recently announced 'national action plan' purports to implement the LLRC's recommendations, but in fact, it rejects that commission's central finding: the need to initiate independent investigations and restore the independence of the judiciary, police and other public bodies.
The action plan proposes only flawed inquiries into alleged war crimes and other serious human rights violations, generally relying on the very institutions accused: the police and the military. It does nothing to establish independent institutions able to hold to account state agencies, President Rajapaksa (pictured) and his family, or the increasingly powerful military.
For example, where the LLRC recommends establishing 'an independent permanent Police Commission...empowered to monitor the performance of the Police Service and ensure that all Police officers act independently', the action plan simply claims that an 'Independent Police Commission has already been established'. This flies in the face of the LLRC's findings and the 18th amendment to the constitution, adopted in September 2010, which removed many of the Commission's powers and gave the president the job of appointing all its members.
The action plan rejects the LLRC's call for an 'independent' analysis of the well-known Channel 4 video to 'establish the truth or otherwise' of the executions of naked and bound prisoners it appears to depict. The action plan promises only to 'assess the current processes being pursued...by the Army' and names the defence ministry and the presidential secretariat as the 'key responsible agencies' to 'take follow up action as appropriate'.
As for all the other 'vast number of credible allegations' of war crimes cited by a UN panel of experts, the 'action plan' promises only that the military will 'complete ongoing disciplinary process being conducted in terms of Armed Forces statutes' and 'upon conclusion, take follow up action to prosecute, where relevant'. No information has been released about which incidents or military personnel may be under investigation. The Government gives itself five years to complete the process.
Sri Lanka's human rights problems did not end with the war either. There have been scores of disappearances and political killings even since the LLRC report in December 2011, and prospects for reconciliation are further away than ever.
Despite Government claims to have reduced the role of the military in the Tamil-majority north and east (a key demand of the HRC resolution) reports from the ground confirm continued military control over virtually all aspects of life. By refusing to restart negotiations with the main Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), or allow elections to the northern provincial council, the Government is fueling anger among Tamils and weakening support for the TNA's moderate, pro-engagement approach.
The international community, especially member states of the Human Rights Council, must now demand action, not action plans. Sri Lankans of all ethnicities need independent and effective bodies to investigate the many serious human rights violations they have endured during the war and in the years since. They need independent police, judges and prosecutors, freed from the control of the president and the ministry of defence. Provincial council elections and demilitarisation in the north are crucial first steps to sustainable peace, and international development institutions, including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, should condition assistance on both processes.
 Alan Keenan is Sri Lanka Project Director at the International Crisis Group.