Tuesday, April 30, 2013

கோமா நிலையில் சென்னைத் துறைமுக மருத்துவமனை



By -முகவை.க.சிவகுமார்-, திருவொற்றியூர்
சென்னைத் துறைமுக மருத்துவமனை நிர்வாகச் சீர்கேடுகளில் சிக்கித் தவிப்பதாக பல்வேறு தரப்பினரும் தொடர்ந்து புகார் தெரிவித்து வந்தனர். இந்நிலையில் தகுதிச் சான்று காலாவதியான பிறகும் கடந்த ஓராண்டுக்கும் மேலாக பயன்பாட்டில் இருந்த ஆம்புலன்ஸ் வாகனம் வாகனச் சோதனையில் திருவொற்றியூர் போலீஸரிடம் சிக்கிய சம்பவம் மருத்துவமனை நிர்வாகத்தின் அவல நிலையை வெட்ட வெளிச்சமாக்கியுள்ளது.
பழமையும், பெருமையும்வாய்ந்த மருத்துவமனை: 130 ஆண்டுகள் பழமை கொண்ட சென்னைத் துறைமுகத்தில் அமைந்துள்ள மருத்துவமனை 40 ஆண்டுகளுக்கும் மேலாக பல்வேறு சாதனைகளை நிகழ்த்தியுள்ளது. சுமார் 20 ஆயிரம் ஊழியர்கள் நலனுக்காக கட்டப்பட்ட இந்த மருத்துவமனையில் அவசரம், தீவிரம், கண், இதய நோய், மகப்பேறு உள்ளிட்ட துறைகளும், அதிநவீன அறுவைச் சிகிச்சைக் கூடமும் உள்ளன.
தனியார் மருத்துவமனைகளில் லட்சக்கணக்கான ரூபாய் கட்டணமாக வசூலிக்கப்படும் Open Heart Surgery, Bye Pass Surgery உள்ளிட்டவைகூட இங்கு சர்வ சாதாரணமாகச் செய்யப்பட்டன. ரயில்வே, பாதுகாப்புத் துறை மருத்துவமனைகளிலிருந்துகூட சிறப்பு சிகிச்சைக்காக நோயாளிகள் இங்கு இடம் மாற்றம் செய்யப்பட்ட நிகழ்வுகளும் உண்டு. 
திசை மாறிய மருத்துவமனை: 10 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்பு வரை ஊழியர்கள் இந்த மருத்துமனையில் மட்டுமே இலவசமாக சிகிச்சை பெற முடியும். இந்நிலையில் 2003- ஆம் ஆண்டில் ஆம்புலன்ஸ் வாகனத்தில் அழைத்துவரப்பட்ட தீயணைப்பு வீரர் சாந்தகுமார் என்பவருக்கு சிகிச்சை அளிக்கும்போது சிலிண்டரில் ஆக்ஸிஜன் இல்லாததால் அவர் உயிரிழந்துவிட்டதாகக் கூறி ஆயிரக்கணக்கான ஊழியர்கள் மருத்துவமனையை முற்றுகையிட்டுப் போராட்டம் நடத்தினர்.
இதைத் தொடர்ந்து நடந்த பேச்சுவார்த்தையில் மருத்துவமனையில் வசதியில்லாத நிலையில் சிறப்பு மற்றும் அவசரச் சிகிச்சைக்காக எந்த ஊழியரும் தனியார் பல்துறை மருத்துவமனைகளில் சிகிச்சை பெறலாம். இதற்கான கட்டணத்தை நிர்வாகமே செலுத்தும் என துறைமுக பொறுப்புக் கழகம் ஒப்புதல் அளித்தது.
இதன்பிறகுதான் முறைகேடுகள் நடைபெறத் தொடங்கின. இதனையடுத்து பெரும்பாலான நோயாளிகள் சொகுசு கருதி தனியார் மருத்துவமனைகளை நாடத் தொடங்கினர். அப்படியே துறைமுக மருத்துவமனைக்கு நோயாளிகள் வந்தாலும் அவர்கள் தனியார் மருத்துவமனைக்குச் செல்லவே பரிந்துரைக்கப்பட்டனர். நிர்வாகம் எடுத்த இம்முடிவால் ஆண்டுதோறும் கோடிக்கணக்கான ரூபாய் தனியார் மருத்துவமனைகளுக்கு கட்டணமாகச் செலுத்தப்படுகிறது.
உள் நோயாளிகளின் எண்ணிக்கை- 50: டாக்டர்களின் எண்ணிக்கை- 45: இம் மருத்துவமனைக்கு வரும் நோயாளிகளின் எண்ணிக்கை படிப்படியாகக் குறைந்து தற்போது உள்நோயாளிகளாக சுமார் 30 முதல் 50 பேர் மட்டுமே மருத்துவமனையில் தங்கியுள்ளனர். மேலும் ஆயிரக்கணக்கில் இருந்த வெளிநோயாளிகளின் எண்ணிக்கையும் நூற்றுக் கணக்காக குறைந்துவிட்டது.
ஆனாலும் தற்போது சுமார் 45 டாக்டர்கள் பணியாற்றுகின்றனர். இதே அளவிற்கு செவிலியர்கள் மற்றும் சுமார் 200 ஊழியர்கள், துப்புரவுத் தொழிலாளர்கள் பணியாற்றுகின்றனர்.
இருப்பினும் நோயாளிகள் வருகைக் குறைவு, போதிய மருந்துகள் இல்லாதது, உபகரணங்களை இயக்குவதில் ஏற்படும் சிரமங்கள் உள்ளிட்டவைகளால் சிகிச்சை அளிப்பதில் டாக்டர்களும் போதிய ஆர்வம் காட்டுவதில்லை.
ஒவ்வொரு மாதமும் நூற்றுக்கணக்கில் நடைபெற்று வந்த அறுவைச் சிகிச்சைகள் தற்போது ஒன்றுகூட மேற்கொள்ளப்படுவதில்லை என்கிறார் இயந்திரவியல் துறையின் ஊழியர் முத்துகிருஷ்ணன்.
விசாரணைக் குழு நியமிக்கக் கோரிக்கை: இந்தப் பிரச்னை குறித்து பி.எம்.எஸ். தொழிற்சங்க பொதுச் செயலாளர் சந்தானம் கூறியது: காலாவதியான ஆம்புலன்ஸ் பிடிபட்டது என்பது முறைகேடுகளின் ஒரு துளிதான்.
ஆம்புலன்ஸ் வாகனங்கள் சட்டவிரோதமாக வேறு பணிகளுக்குப் பயன்படுத்தப்படுகின்றன. பெருமைவாய்ந்த இந்த மருத்துவமனையில் மருந்து வாங்குவது உள்ளிட்ட பல முறைகேடுகள் நடைபெற்றுள்ளன.
இதற்கு துறைமுக உயர் அதிகாரிகள் பலர் உடந்தையாக இருந்துள்ளனர். எனவே கப்பல் துறை அமைச்சகம் நேரடியாகத் தலையிட்டு விசாரணை நடத்தினால் பல உண்மைகள் வெளிவரும். முறைகேடுகளுக்குக் காரணமானவர்கள் யார் என்பதும் வெளிச்சத்துக்கு வரும் என்றார் சந்தானம்.

காலாவதியான ஆம்புலன்ஸ் வாகனங்கள்
மருத்துவமனை வசம் உள்ள TN 04  AE 1217, 1224, 1243, 1246  பதிவெண்கள் கொண்ட நான்கு ஆம்புலன்ஸ்களின் தகுதிச் சான்று (FITNESS CERTIFICATE) 2012 பிப்ரவரியிலேயே காலாவதியாகிவிட்டன. ஆனால் இவையனைத்தும் ஓராண்டுக்கும் மேலாக தொடர் பயன்பாட்டில் இருந்து வருகின்றன.
இந்நிலையில் ஊழியர் ஒருவருக்கு திடீர் நெஞ்சுவலி ஏற்பட்டதால் TN04  AE 1217 என்ற ஆம்புலன்ஸ் மூலம் அவரை திருவொற்றியூரில் உள்ள தனியார் மருத்துவமனைக்கு அழைத்துச் சென்றனர்.
இந்த ஆம்புலன்ஸின் தகுதிச் சான்று காலாவதியானது குறித்து போலீஸôருக்கு ஊழியர் ஒருவர் தகவல் தெரிவித்ததையடுத்து மருத்துவமனைக்குச் சென்ற ஆம்புலன்ஸ் வாகனத்தை போலீஸார் பறிமுதல் செய்தனர்.

Monday, April 29, 2013

V.O. Chidambaranar Port– a gateway for growth in South Tamil Nadu


Source: http://www.sagarsandesh.com/interview/voc-port-a-gateway-for-growth-in-south-tn/

V.O. Chidambaranar Port, rated as one of the largest economic engines of Tamil Nadu and truly a gateway of growth for southern states in the country, continues to tread on the path laid down by the legendary leader and ‘Kappalottiya Thamizhan.’ Keeping in line with the name and fame earned over the years with its sustained growth on cargo handling, the VOC Port Trust management is now at a crucial juncture from where it is poised for a spectacular growth, given the increasing percentage of its captive cargoes like coal, garments, garnet sand, yarn items and machinery products.

In a free-wheeling interview with Sagar Sandesh, Mr. S. Natarajan, Chairman of VOC Port Trust, explained the past, present and future of the port in crystal clear terms.

Excerpts of the interview

Question: Tell us about the port, its history?
Answer: The proposal to construct a deep-sea harbour at Tuticorin was first thought of in 1914.The first proposal was by Sir Wolfe Lyster Barry and Partners to examine the prospects of development of the port. Though a few other proposals came and abandoned due to financial constraints during those days, it was in post-independence (1954), when the Government of India appointed Mr. Chatterjee to examine development of Tuticorin Port. After various developments over the next 10 years, in 1964 then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri inaugurated the construction work of the new port. In 1979, the erstwhile anchorage port and Tuticorin New Harbour were integrated and declared as a 10th Major Port of our country.

Q: What are the advantages the port has when compared to other ports in the region?

A: Besides strategically located very close to the East-West international sea-route with 12.8 metre draft, VOC Port is well connected by broad-gauge rail and road with all major cities and all ICDs. Even during the time of economic downturn, there is a continuous and steady flow of exports and imports through VOC Port due to its efficiency, vision and market orientation.
During the financial year 2012-13, the port has handled its highest ever volume of 28.26 Million Tonnes, which is about one per cent higher than the volume handled during the previous fiscal.

Q: Will the modernized VOC Port throw a direct challenge to Colombo Port, which has been rated as best trans-shipment port in the region?
A: We are a fast developing port located in the southern tip of India (close to Colombo) and investing more and more on modernizing the facility to take up all kinds of challenges in future. Once the proposed Outer Harbour facility finds its place by 2019, 
VOC Port would surely throw a direct challenge.

Q: What are the cargoes that are being imported or exported via VOC Port?

A: Products like thermal coal, steaming (non-coking) coal (I.coal), copper concentrate, rock phosphate, logs, lime stones, LPG, naphtha, urea, potassium sulphate (mop, sop), palm oil, iron and steel materials, furnace oil and finished fertilizers are being regularly imported via VOC Port.
Likewise, ilmenite, garnet sand, sulphuric acid, stone dust, maize, stone aggregate, granite, phosphoric acid, salt, sugar (raw), sugar in bags, caustic soda lye, cement in bags, iron ore, furnace oil and machinery are being exported via our port to different countries.

Q: Will the Tamil Nadu Government’s proposal to develop ship building activity near VOC Port boost growth in the region?

A: The proposal to develop a shipyard near VOC Port would definitely help the region. It will attract more auxiliary companies to establish their operations in Tuticorin, which would ultimately help the port with export and imports.
In 2006, VOC Port did a study for setting up a ship yard inside the port premises. Though we cornered a space for the project, all those lands earmarked for the project were moved to other essential and important projects of the port one by one.

Q: What are the projects that are in the pipeline for development of VOC Port?

A: We have various projects for the development of the port. A few have already been awarded and a few are yet to be awarded.
A 1000 MW thermal power plant is under construction by Neyveli Thermal Power Limited, a joint venture of NLC & TNEB JV at a cost of Rs. 4,500 crores. So as to facilitate handling of coal, a captive berth ‘North Cargo Berth-I’ has been constructed at a cost of Rs. 49.50 crores under deposit terms with a capacity of 6.30 MTPA.
Facilities like shore unloaders and conveyor will be provided by the captive user M/s NTPL. Berth construction work has been completed and M/s NTPL has proposed to operationalise one 500 MW unit by December 2013 and the remaining 500 MW unit by June 2014.
Likewise, construction of North Cargo Berth-II at an estimated cost of Rs. 332.16 crores has also been awarded to M/s Tuticorin Coal Terminal Ltd. (an SPV of M/s ABG-LDA Bulk Handling Private Limited & Louis Dreyfus Armaters SAS France), who offered  a gross revenue share of 52.17 per cent to the port. About 30 per cent of berth construction work has been completed and the facility is scheduled to be commissioned by June 2014.
Construction of North Cargo Berth-IV at an estimated cost of Rs. 355 crores has also been awarded to M/s. Transstroy – OJSC Consortium, Hyderabad, for handling thermal coal and copper concentrate. The gross revenue share that would be offered by the concessionaire will be 30%. The construction of the berth is expected to be completed by June, 2015.
Besides other projects, construction of shallow draught berth for handling cement at an estimated cost Rs. 85 crores has also been awarded. The facility would have a capacity of 2.67 MTPA. LOA was issued to M/s. Transstroy – OJSC Consortium in December 2012 and it would be offering a gross revenue share of 22 per cent to the port. The project is expected to be completed by June 2015.

Q: What are the plans the VOC Port has to have captive cargo for its sustained growth?
A: Everybody knows that several power projects are coming up in the vicinity of VOC Port and all their coal requirements are ostensibly have to be met through our port only. We forecast that the combined coal need for those power plants would be around 30 Million Tonnes by 2019-20 and our dedicated coal-handling facilities would deliver it.
Besides, VOC Port is a favourite destination for export of garments and machinery products and import of raw cashew. So, we have ample captive cargo to sustain our double-digit growth.

Q: Does the port have plans for capturing the ever-growing container market from the region?
A: We have ambitious plans to capture the containerized market, which is going to grow rapidly in the coming years. During the financial year 2012-13, the port has handled a throughput of 4, 75, 599 TEUs.
Since container traffic is likely to improve in the country as a whole and the capacity of the existing container terminal has reached a saturation point, V.O. Chidambaranar Port has proactively planned to convert Berth No.8 into a container terminal with an additional container handling capacity of 6 lakh TEUs. The project was awarded to M/s. Dakshin Bharat Gateway Terminals, Mumbai, at an estimated cost of Rs. 312.23 crores during September 2012. The terminal, which would be fully operational by June 2014, will have a quay length of 345.50 metres.

TCC EXIM AWARDS: Vasan dishes out more mega port projects


Source: http://www.sagarsandesh.com/news/vasan-dishes-out-more-mega-port-projects/
Union Shipping Minister Mr G K Vasan, Dr K Rosaiah, Governor of Tamil Nadu and award-winning chairmen of three major ports in Tamil Nadu at the TCC Exim Achievement Awards Function, organised by the Tamil Chamber of Commerce and Chozha Naachiar Foundation in Chennai, on April 26. Seen (from left) Mr S Natarajan, Chairman of VOC Port Trust, Mr Atulya Misra, Chairman, Chennai Port Trust, Mr Chozha Naachiar Rajasekar, President, TCC, Mr SSR Rajkumar, honorary secretary of TCC and Mr. M A Bhaskarachar, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of Ennore Port Ltd (EPL).

Ms.Srividhya Priya, MD , Streamline Forwarders - receiving award for securing third place in No. of Shipping Bills Filed - Exports

Armed with the success of awarding record number of 32 port projects in 2012-13, Union Shipping Minister G. K. Vasan has announced that his Ministry has finalized an ‘Action Plan’ for the year 2013-14 where it targets to award 30 port development projects.

Addressing an elite gathering of EXIM fraternity from South India during the TCC Exim Achievement Awards Function on April 26, organised by the Tamil Chamber of Commerce and Chozha Naachiar Foundation in Chennai, Mr. Vasan said: “We have already finalized action plan for the year 2013-14 with a target of 30 port development projects. These projects will bring additional capacity of 288.48 Million Metric Tonne per annum at an estimated investment of Rs. 24, 633 crores.”

Banking on the success of port sector over the years, he stated: “The steps taken by the Shipping Ministry in the past few years are showing excellent and positive results. As a result of various efforts that I have outlined here and with the active participation of private sector, I hope that Indian port sector would grow stronger and stronger.”

Cautioning the EXIM fraternity to remain vigil, Mr. Vasan remarked: “Ports are the gateway for EXIM trade and any deficiency will greatly affect the country’s EXIM trade and competitiveness for industries.”

Recalling the Government’s role in nation building, he observed: “For improving efficiency of our ports, the Government has been paying constant attention on construction and development of deep draft berths, navigation channels, development of cargo facilities, mechanization of berths, installation of modern cargo handling equipment and construction of multi-lane concrete roads.”

For augmenting capacities of the Major Ports, the Government has been encouraging private sector participation in the port development, he added.

The maritime agenda formulated by the Ministry of Shipping in January 2011 has identified priority areas and gives a road map for achieving the target in terms of creation of world class port facilities in the country,” the Minister further added.

Addressing the gathering after presenting the TCC EXIM Achievement awards awards to various winners, Dr. K. Rosaiah, Governor of Tamil Nadu, who was the Chief Guest of the function, said: “Today, shipping has become a global industry and its prospects are closely tied with the level of economic activity.

A higher level of economic growth leads to higher demand for industrial raw materials, which in turn boosts imports and exports, hence the ports play a major role in imports and exports, he added.

The Governor also complimented Mr. Chozha Naachiar Rajasekar for putting in great efforts to encourage and motivate the exporters, importers and shipping fraternity by instituting awards for their outstanding performance.

Earlier, Mr. Chozha Naachiar Rajasekar, President, TCC, who welcomed the gathering, traced the significant role played by Shipping Minister G. K. Vasan in developing port sector in the country.
Mr. S. S. R. Rajkumar, honorary secretary of TCC, proposed a vote of thanks.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Paramount Shipping hits another milestone

Source: http://www.sagarsandesh.com/news/paramount-shipping-hits-another-milestone/
It was a day of jubilation for Paramount Shipping Services, Chennai, on April 25 when it crossed another milestone in its forward journey.


On this day, Paramount Shipping Services custom-cleared for exports of 175 CBUs of HONDA BRIO to South Africa which were flagged off by Mr. M. A. Bhaskarachar, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of Ennore Port Ltd (EPL), in the presence of top officials from Honda Car India, Ltd. Greater Noida, and various other dignitaries from logistics and shipping industries.

This car export event assumes greater importance for the fact that Honda Car India Ltd., a North India-based company, deciding to choose a South India-based port for exporting its vehicles.

According to Paramount Shipping Services sources, the export was made possible by the able assistance of Ennore Port management’s proactive approach to get more and more car export through its port transport service providers – Axis Carriers & Logistics Ltd., NYK Autologistics, Ground Handling Agents: MOL Auto Logistics India Pvt. Ltd., Chennai, Ennore Automotive Logistics Ltd., K-Line India Pvt. Ltd. and Honda Car India CHA – P.V. Cargo Carriers Pvt. Ltd and its South India-based counterparts – Paramount Shipping Services, Chennai.

The successful roll-on of 175 CBUs of HONDA BRIO v-Tec for export to South Africa was the culmination of an excellent team work, officials from Paramount Shipping Services told Sagar Sandesh.

It may be noted here that in the car export segment among the Indian Major Ports, Chennai Port holds the top position and Ennore Port is fast catching up to the position through its various initiatives to tap more and more export of cars via its facility.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

CONCOR to link Kongu region with New Mangalore Port soon


Source:http://www.sagarsandesh.com/logistic/concor-to-link-kongu-region-with-new-mangalore-port-soon/

If the appeal made by the New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) Chairman, Dr. P. Tamilvanan, to Kongo region EXIM players and CONCOR is taken in the right sprit, the region would get rail connectivity for ferrying containers soon.
Addressing the gathering of exporters and importers during the Logistic Summit and B2C Connect 2013, organised here on April 20 by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the NMPT Chairman made the fervent appeal to the regional players to use New Mangalore Port, as the multi-cargo facility recently launched has a direct service to Dubai.
It may be noted here that most of the cargo from the region destined for Dubai is now exported via Cochin Port due to better connectivity on road as well as rail (through CONCOR).
Quickly reacting to the proposal put forward by the NMPT top brass at the meet, Mr. N. Sreekumar, CONCOR’s Chief General Manager for Southern Region, (during his presentation later in the day) announced that CONCOR will not hesitate to launch a service between Coimbatore and the New Mangalore Port Trust if demand arises.
Speaking to Sagar Sandesh most of the participants at the Logistics Summit expressed that the service would be a real boon for the trade from the Kongu region which normally depends on three ports – Chennai, Tuticorin and Cochin – for all export and import needs.
However, a few participants voiced apprehension that such a service may not be a reality given the CONCOR’s failed commitment for regular services to Cochin and Chennai ports from Coimbatore in the past.
During the general interaction of EXIM players with the officials that followed after the inaugural session, one of the participants asked the CONCOR official to come clean on their commitment for fixed services from the region, so they can plan their export accordingly.
Clearing misconceptions and compulsions on CONCOR among the trade, Mr. Sreekumar said: “We indeed had regular fixed services to Cochin and Chennai from Coimbatore in the past. But, CONCOR was forced to make it as on-demand service after poor patronage that led to loss of amount to the tune of several crores.
He also tried to drive home the message among the regional EXIM players that CONCOR means business and sought their patronage to convert the existing on-demand services to regular fixed services with assured containers.
While Mr. Sreekumar tried his level best to explain the prevailing situation and the options before CONCOR, participants remained skeptical and appealed to him to first begin regular services (even though it makes losses) to get captive cargo from the region.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The (Lankan Ethnic) War May Be Over But The Idea Lives On ... from Tehelka


Source: http://tehelka.com/the-war-may-be-over-but-the-idea-lives-on-2/?singlepage=1

By REVATI LAUL

Disguised as a tourist, Revati Laul travelled through the country’s most war-ravaged districts. She spotlights a story that is rarely told

-The idea of a separate Tamil nation is not dead in Sri Lanka.


There was a time when this was espoused with brutal violence by the dreaded LTTE. That violence has been leached out now to be replaced by a kind of limitless — and perhaps more potent — despair. There are reasons why the idea of a separate Tamil nation refuses to die.

The chilling story of the LTTE and its lethal suicide bombers is well-known. The horrific retaliatory killing of its cadres and thousands of Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan Army towards the end of the war is also now an emerging story. But this is a report on the silent war that continues till this day against the Tamils, an insidious and systematic violence they call a “structural genocide”.
There are two overriding images that greet you when you drive from the peacock- blue-themed Bandaranaike International Airport into Colombo city. Giant cutouts of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, beaming, arms outstretched to bless the people; and statues of the Buddha. For tourists, who are pouring in swelling numbers into Sri Lanka, the 30-year civil war was definitively finished in 2009. Sri Lanka is back to being an idyllic island of peace; the LTTE has been exterminated. There is, in fact, a shiny triumphalism in the air to match the new Buddhist statues smiling at you from every street corner. However, at the other end, far away from Colombo, the army is still out on every street.
Four years after the civil war ended, the Vanni — a small forested stretch of land in the north, held by the LTTE till their chief V Prabhakaran was killed by the army in 2009 — is nothing but a slice of scarred earth. A smooth post-war spruced-up highway from Jaffna town speeds to the four districts in the Vanni: Mannar, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Kilinochchi. The military presence here rises sharply. Uniformed men, covered waist-high in plastic sheets, are clearing landmines on either side of the road. Red skull and crossbow signs everywhere ask you to be careful.
The silence of the Tamils is deafening as you reach the last mile of the war — a village called Mullivaikal in Mullaitivu. In 2009, as the LTTE was pushed back by an advancing Sri Lankan Army, 3 lakh Tamils collected in this village to escape the mortar shells and bullets raining from the sky. This is the village where Channel 4 videos show Sri Lankan soldiers stomping on the naked breasts of a dead LTTE woman; where carcasses were piled in heaps as Tamil civilians were caught the crossfire of the Sri Lankan Army and a dwindling but still combative LTTE guerrilla force.
Journalists are still not welcome in these parts; we are there masquerading as tourists. Although the heaped bodies are now gone, the hollowed-out sand bunkers where people ducked the bullets and mortars are still there. The torn remains of what was once a purple sari. The plastic remains of a TV set. An open suitcase. Even a bunch of white plastic roses. And, in the midst of these torn-out buildings, pockmarked with bullet holes, the odd family. Trying to live in the land of the dead.
It is impossible to speak with them. As we step out of our van, we are ordered out of the area by two men in military uniform. They follow us on their bike for some distance.
Nearby, a ship that was once carrying 2,000 tonnes of paddy, lies rusted on a beach. The date of its capture by the Sri Lankan Army is painted on its body in Sinhala to drive home the point. It’s now a tourist spot for a busload of visiting Buddhist monks in bright orange robes.
With the war over, things have gone back to usual. Contrary to Rajapaksa’s famed 13th amendment, promising autonomy to the provincial councils in the north for the Tamilsthis means a return to State policies from the 1950s that systematically and deliberately excluded them from cultivable farmland and prime fishing waters. The exclusion that sparked the Tamil resistance and war in the first place is back with a bang.
In Mullaitivu, a few streets away from the rubble, 53-year-old Thurairasa Ravikaran — once the head of the district fishermen’s union — points proudly at his chocolate-and-yellow-tiled house. Before the eruption of hostilities, the north was so good for fishing he had built his entire brick house for LKR 4 lakh (Rs 1.73 lakh), earned from the catch of just two prawn seasons. But those days are long gone. The Sri Lankan government, he said, had snatched the sea from the Tamils.
This phenomenon has manifested itself in waves. The first trigger came in 1983 with the anti-Tamil riots called Black July. The fishermen of his village had to leave overnight because of the violence. The exodus led to 300 Sinhalese fishing families moving into the area. According to Sri Lankan law, fishing permits are only given to permanent residents. But the rules were overlooked for the Sinhala fishermen. These fishermen used large trawlers with high-voltage search methods that Ravikaran claims are illegal to employ in the shallow waters of the north. This turned the fishing economy on its head. 
The Sinhalese fishermen with their big trawlers scooped out all the fish, leaving practically nothing for the Tamil fishermen. It reduced their income from an average of LKR 5,000 a day to LKR 500. The LTTE domination of the area provided some reprieve. But now, according to Ravikaran, the area domination by Sinhalese fishermen has begun again. 
“Coming back here is like living in a cemetery,” he says. “Our livelihood is completely destroyed.”
It seems this phenomenon is repeating itself in fishing villages across the region. As journalists are not officially welcome, it is impossible to independently verify Ravikaran’s claims.
Ground Views, a Colombo-based civil society group, however, published a report in March 2012 that said, “The fishing industry, one of the main sources of livelihood of a large number of people in the Jaffna Peninsula, was severely affected by 30 years of ethnic civil war.” According to this report, before the war, Jaffna was the largest fishing production district in Sri Lanka. Prior to 1983, it contributed about 48,000 metric tonnes per year, one fourth of total national production. By the end of the third Eelam war, this was reduced to 3-5 percent.
The report goes on to say, “Severe restrictions have been placed on members of the Tamil fishing communities, resulting in a drastic impact on their means of livelihood…” 
Disturbingly, it adds, “several Sinhala fishermen in the area have received direct permission to fish in this area from the Ministry of Defence.”
TRINCOMALEE IN the east, a long and beautiful stretch of coastline once held by the LTTE, is now back on the tourist map after it was recaptured by the army in 2006. But Trincomalee is overrun with soldiers at every street corner. Every passenger on every incoming bus to the north and east is checked by the military. Every time you board a bus, you have to write your contact numbers, purpose of visit and passport details.
A report in the Economic and Political Weekly on 14 July 2012 claimed the ratio of army to civilians in these parts is as high as 1:5. If that’s true, it’s at least four times more than the troops on ground in Afghanistan where a war is still on. 
Sri Lankan Army spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wannigasooriya calls the figures preposterous. According to him, not more than 6,000 personnel are deployed in Trincomalee. For instance, the reason they check each bus, he says, is “in case former LTTE cadre are carrying weapons on them”.
In Thennavanmarapuady, an ancient Tamil village in Trincomalee, the underlying reasons for the seemingly irreparable hostility between Tamils and Sinhalese becomes even more apparent. The village traces its antecedents to the 9th century, when a Pandian king conquered the area. The Pandian dynasty ruled large parts of Tamil territory in ancient India and northern Sri Lanka. In the 1980s, this land became the theatre of conflict between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government. Its people, therefore, fled to a camp in Mullaitivu in the north. From here too, they moved many times; some fled to India.
After the civil war ended in 2009, these farmers wanted to return to their homes and the 1,200 acres of paddy fields they had left two decades earlier. After many difficult rounds of negotiation with the local government, families began to get permits to come back in batches. But they returned to find their land overrun by the army. Nearly 150 families are back in the area now but they live in temporary camps built by the UNHRC in 2011. Instead of 1,200 acres, they are now collectively left with a mere 150 acres to cultivate. An additional 150 acres is now occupied by Sinhalese farmers. Complaints to the police have led nowhere. The head of the society they have formed has written directly to President Rajapaksa as well as every bureaucrat in between, to no avail. A farming community that, at the time of fleeing their land in 1984, made the equivalent of LKR 50,000 a month now earns not more than LKR 2,000, which for a war-inflated economy is barely subsistence level.
In another camp in the east — local guides did not wish it to be identified — a frail 53-year-old woman stepped out of her mud hut to greet us. She dashed her daughter off to get us a sweet red drink from a store nearby as her eyes slowly shifted to a faraway place. She now lives entirely in the past. Every waking moment is spent thinking of the home they fled in 2006; the two cows she had to sell, named Neerum or water and Neeruppu or fire. “Even if I don’t get back my farmland, I will live with that. All I want, even if it’s just a small hut, is to get back to my homeland,” she said wistfully.
At yet another camp in the north, a fisherman’s eyes brimmed over. Living in a camp for more than 22 years is no life, he said. In the 1990s, he left the camp to live in the Vanni, the LTTE heartland, where he felt protected and thought the Tamils would have a future. Now, at the age of 60, with that dream getting more and more blurred, he confessed, “I think I should just end it all now and walk into the sea.”
The refusal to be named or identified is commonplace among the Tamils. Their fear is palpable.
The Sinhala-Buddhist majority in Sri Lanka makes up 75 percent of the population; the Tamil minority — 32 lakh people — make for 11 percent.
According to the government, most Tamils dislocated by decades of civil war — and the last devastating push by the Sri Lankan Army — have been resettled. But an NGO working with displaced people explains what “resettled” really means. Farmers who once had one-acre plots are “resettled” on pint-sized slices of land measuring 0.125 acres. “It’s part of a State sponsored design to resettle Tamils at below subsistence levels so they can never regroup and fight,” the NGO explains.
Reliable figures for the thousands of people displaced by war and still living in camps are hard to come by. Tamils here say, like everything else, the flow of information is tightly controlled by the government and scripted to suit the story they want the world to hear. The scale of displacement and dispossession, therefore, can only be hazarded from reports like this one, based on patchwork anecdotes from the ground.
The real scale may be missing, but the architecture is clear. Tamil MP Gajendra Ponnambalam describes why the north and the east became the land of the Tamil Eelam; why Tamils in Sri Lanka almost universally supported the idea of a separate nation. His own family history makes for a telling account. 
Gajendra’s grandfather, GG Ponnambalam, was an Oxford-educated lawyer and a liberal who, till the 1950s, believed in the idea of a syncretic nation where Tamils and Sinhalese could co-exist. He founded the All Ceylon Tamil Congress. By 1976, however, he had begun to back the idea of a separate nation for the Tamils. Things had begun to curdle as far back as 1956 with the Sinhala Only Act. This replaced English with Sinhala as the State language, to the exclusion of Tamil. This was further exacerbated by tussles over land, fishing rights and proportion of government jobs.

In the 1970s, when it became officially mandatory for Tamil students to get 15 marks more than Sinhalese to qualify for university, the ground was laid for the rise of the LTTE. Gajendra’s grandfather eventually lived his last days abroad, broken by the idea of a Lankan nation whose identity was solely Sinhala and Buddhist.

Gajendra’s father, Kumar Ponnambalam or GG Jr as he was known, was educated at Cambridge. He became a lawyer and took on the State for its anti-Tamil stance. He paid for that by being assassinated in 2000. Gajendra — the third-generation lawyer to be educated in England — finally returned to Tamil politics in Sri Lanka. He feels Prabhakaran, despite the many mistakes he made, was the most effective leader the Tamils ever had. The time for political reconciliation with the Sri Lankan government is long over, he says. In 2010, he broke away from the Tamil National Alliance — an umbrella body of Tamil parties — over this issue. “When you face such blatant oppression, you end up focussing fundamentally on what you need to do to keep your identity alive,” he said.
Despite the contemporary devastations the Tamils have faced, the tragic story of chauvinism and racial domination in Sri Lanka is not one-sided. In keeping with the imperial games it played elsewhere, while Sri Lanka was a part of the British Empire, the British clearly favoured and nurtured the Tamils over the Sinhalese.
This meant the Tamils ended up better educated, often returning with degrees from abroad; they had a greater share of the few plum jobs in the colonial civil services; they bought the biggest properties in Colombo.
Rajiva Wijesinha, whose Liberal Party is an integral part of the Sri Lankan government, articulates this alternative side of the history of Sri Lankan discontent. The discriminatory politics that began in the 1950s with the Sinhala Only Act, he says, was really an attempt by the Sri Lankan government to unshackle the country from its colonial past. This is why English was replaced by Sinhala as the official language. 
“It’s unfortunate that this eventually took on the colour of majoritarianism in the years that followed.” It was corrected, he pointed out, in 1987, when Tamil was included as an official language. But by then, of course, the LTTE had already emerged as a guerilla force to assuage the anger of the Tamils.
BACK IN the north and east, this historical perspective offers no comforts. Sureka (name changed), 31, sits in a quiet backyard overlooking the sea. Her bright yellow frock with its frills and silver buckle contrasted painfully with her adult face and puffy eyes.
“I don’t want to live anymore,” she said. “But if I kill myself, people will think I’m ending it all because I have been raped by the CID or the army and I don’t want that to be the story people carry around after me. So I’m in limbo. I can’t live and I can’t die.”
Sureka was once a regular young girl in a village in the east, but the war between the LTTE and the army caught up with her. It killed her mother, leaving her orphaned. She had no siblings; her father had died a few years earlier. Soon after, soldiers began to turn up at her house regularly to torment her. They poured boiling water on her head once and hit her on the back with sticks. It’s what drove her to join the LTTE in 2000. 
Prabhakaran was someone she looked up to like an elder brother, she says. For the nine years she was in the LTTE, she was happy. Then in 2009, the war was over. She was back to living alone, but now in a land where the State and army was even more hostile, especially with former members of the LTTE.
A week before we met her, an unknown Sinhalese man had entered Sureka’s home in the dead of night. She shouted and fought and called the police. They took three hours to come and refused to register a complaint. Since she was a former LTTE member, she was just a troublemaker, they allegedly told her. She wonders each night if the man will return.
We met our next contact ducking in a paddy field to avoid his being seen by the rest of his village, potential informers or the army, Easwaran (name changed) displayed his right wrist with two round blotches of raw skin. Evidence, he said, of electrodes inserted to torture him after the war. Like Sureka, Easwaran was orphaned in the 1990s when his parents were killed by the Sri Lankan Army. His father, an electrician, had dared to refuse to work for free for the soldiers. They paid him back by entering his house some days later and killing him and his wife. Easwaran was eight when he saw this happen. He and his two siblings screamed for help but fear had paralysed the neighbours into silence. He joined the LTTE to avenge his parents’ death, he says.
When the LTTE was pushed back from Trincomalee, Easwaran’s past caught up with him and he was arrested. The nightmares from the time he was tortured still continue. “All I wanted is a safe place for Tamils to live,” he now says, fear spreading across his face. He once had three acres; but now he has been living in a refugee camp for the past eight years.
For still others like Vengadesh (name changed), the horror has visited him many times over. He had provided logistics support to the LTTE in the early 1990s. He was picked up by the Sri Lankan Army for this and sent to the infamous Fourth Floor, their version of Abu Ghraib. According to Vengadesh, his head was immersed in petrol fumes; he was strung upside down and suspended from just his two thumbs. He was released eight months later. 
He married, had children and began what he thought was a regular middle-class life. But when the civil war ended, he was picked up by the military and sent to the Fourth Floor again.
The torture, however, has not taken the idea of the Tamil nation out of him. Even as he spoke with us, he smiled as he looked back on what he calls his “contribution to the Tamil cause”. He would do it again, he says. For now though, he lives with the constant fear that torture may revisit him any time.
Looking at these stories of torture as merely a humanitarian crisis, however, is to miss the big picture. It makes activist lawyer K Guruparan very angry. “A simple human rights discourse doesn’t help,” he explains. It merely forces people to weigh one set of atrocities against another — those by the Sri Lankan Army in 2009 against those carried out over the past 30 years by the LTTE, which had one of the deadliest guerrilla armies and suicide squads in contemporary history. “Without the history of Tamil oppression and the ongoing structural genocide, the story of the Tamils has almost no meaning,” says Guruparan. “You have to look at the longstanding process of disenfranchisement from which the LTTE emerged.”
The language of terror paints absolutist pictures that remove the possibility of context and history. Despite the barbaric scale of Tamil civilian killings — 40,000 in the last six months of the army push in 2009 is the official estimate — it allows the Sinhalese majority to revere President Rajapaksa. It also allows international actors like the UNHRC, the US and Indian governments to take ambivalent positions on what happened.
Consider the UN’s pussyfooting on the war, for instance. In March 2011, a report from the UN Secretary General’s office said: “Between September 2008 and 19 May 2009, the Sri
Lankan Army advanced its campaign into the Vanni where the army used large-scale and widespread shelling, causing a large numbers of civilian deaths.” The report further spelled out how the army had shelled no-fire zones, UN hubs and hospitals and internally-displaced Tamils.
Two years later, however, on 19 March this year, when the UNHRC drafted a resolution on Sri Lanka, it seemed to have developed amnesia about this report. The resolution was gentle in its censure of the government for what happened in 2009 and even praised it for the work done since — “welcoming and acknowledging the progress made by the government of Sri Lanka in rebuilding infrastructure, demining, and resettling the majority of internally displaced persons”.
It is this refusal to take in the whole narrative that allows Rajapaksa to tell the world all is well now with the Tamils in his country.
IN 2011, a document called ‘The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Report’ was published. It was deemed independent but conducted by people appointed by the Sri Lankan government. It listed that the security forces had lost 5,556 personnel between July 2006 and May 2009 and 28,414 were injured. The LTTE, on the other hand, had lost 22,247 of its cadre. It spoke of the “principle of proportionality” and cited instances of war crimes from the Bosnian war to make the point that the blame for atrocities against Tamils in the war was a relative question.
Among all the Sri Lanka’s living dead that TEHELKA met, perhaps the most difficult to face were those whose families have gone missing since the end of the war. The war over statistics and narratives is even starker when it comes to the missing. For instance, a group of pastors sent a report to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission that put the figure of those missing from two districts in the north, where most of the Tamils had converged at the end of the war, at 1,46,679. They said they had used government data to arrive at this number, based on the population count in October 2008 and May 2009.
Not surprisingly, the army spokesperson rubbished the figures. He cited figures compiled by government schoolteachers and village-level officials. This report puts the figures of “those untraceable” across four districts of the north from 2005 to 2009 at 4,156.
Neither statistic comforts Ponamma Kandasamy and her husband. They are searching for their daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, all of whom are missing. Her son-in-law was an LTTE member who, after the war, joined the ranks of thousands of surrendered militants. Since then they have disappeared into a void, putting Ponamma and her husband’s life permanently on hold.
Around the same time, the husband of Bawani (name changed) also surrendered as a member 
of the LTTE’s political wing. She has tried everything to trace him and says all she wants from her life is to see her husband.
A pastor, who is actively working to help Tamils find their missing relatives, says the plight of women like Bawani is particularly bleak. His effort is to gently break it to them that four years on, they cannot sit by the door waiting endlessly. They have to try and start working and paying attention to their children that are still living.
Catholic priests in the north and east are faced with the fact that their church is divided straight down the middle. With Catholic Tamils on one side — the victims. And the Sinhalese Catholics on the other — who have thrown their weight behind the rest of the Sinhalese — the victors.
Another priest revealed how many of his parish are losing their minds. One family’s story was particularly chilling. The couple saw their two young girls die in army shelling. And a third child — their boy — lose both his arms. While the daughters lay dead and the son’s arms were bleeding, the father went mad. He just kept running round and round in circles, unable to deal with the situation. The boy has since then been sent to India to have two prosthetic arms fitted and is currently undergoing training in computers.
Priests have stepped in to help victims walk with fear every day. They take different routes while travelling, delete call history from their cell phones and despite that, receive regular calls and threats from the CID.
The Tamil media is equally under threat. At the crack of dawn on 3 April, Aramugham Ponaraja, the office manager at the Udayan daily in Kilinochchi, was getting ready to distribute the first batch of newspapers when six masked goons attacked him 17 times with cricket stumps.
Tamil MP Sivagnanam Sritharan’s office was attacked just a few days before that by similarly masked goons. Under normal circumstances, the string of attacks may have been completely unconnected. In the times Tamils live in now, all attacks point only to one place — Sinhalese mobs asserting power over the vanquished.
Liberal Party leader Wijesinha says one must not read too much into the activities of the fringe mobs. “The majority of the Sinhalese want a political solution to the Tamil problem,” he insists. “However, there are some bad elements within the government that are causing trouble.”

It’s the kind of perspective that almost deletes the history of Tamil oppression leading up to the LTTE. It’s the view that paints them as an aberration, as if terror suddenly arrived in the 1980s out of nowhere. However, every single Tamil we met has exactly the opposite story to tell. If you were a Tamil in Sri Lanka and lived through the 1980s and ’90s, they say, you were either in the LTTE or a supporter.

THE COLLECTIVE memory of injustice is what made Suvendran (name changed) join the LTTE in 1991. He is now missing one leg from laying grenades. After surrendering, he is left with nothing to say or feel. Just like him, his comrade had no particular trigger for joining the LTTE or for that matter for leaving it. It’s just what Tamils did in the 1990s. He also has an injured leg. The north is full of people with missing limbs and no will to live.
Thivagar (name changed) was just 15 when he joined the LTTE. It was an atmosphere charged with the possibility of a new beginning for Tamil youth. That’s when he fell in love with a fellow comrade. “We had to meet clandestinely since men and women lived in separate camps. It was a typical romance where we snatched five minutes to share an ice-cream together,” he recalled. Like many LTTE romances, it didn’t last. Thivagar left the LTTE in 2005 but his lover stayed on with them. After the war, he has a regular middle-class job, but has to be silent about much of what he saw and experienced. As a surrendered LTTE cadre, he has to constantly watch his step and live in fear.
The final days of the war are firmly embedded in ghoulish detail in the minds of fleeing Tamils — Tigers and others. Indrakumar (name changed) was in the LTTE’s publicity division and continued reporting right until the end, even while he and his family were on the run.
In one such attack in August 2007, 13 schoolchildren were killed and many others injured. There were no vehicles to take them to hospitals. Indrakumar remembers lifting two bleeding kids onto his bike to take them to the nearest hospital 16 km away. He was riding as fast as he could when he saw the head of one of the kids roll off. Neither survived.
As TEHELKA drove through these stretches of former war country with these former LTTE members in tow, the horrors were relived. Thivagar’s face went white when at one point we were chased away by the army. He was silent for a long time and then remarked absently: “The government has wiped out all evidence of the atrocities.”
Indrakumar had one final nightmare to share. He was running from one area of attack to relative safety and then when that became the new theatre of war, he fled again with his wife and child. And then his nine-month-old baby died. It was 9 April, the day of the Tamil New Year. The boy had severe pneumonia. No medicine was available, which Indrakumar claimed was part of the Sri Lankan government’s strategy to flush out the LTTE.
The UN report in 2011 described similar situations, but TEHELKA had no way of independently verifying this claim. Either way, what is indisputable is that Indrakumar’s son died.
At this point he and his wife contemplated suicide. That’s when they arrived at the camp populated with 3 lakh Tamils. Suddenly they were in a sea of horrors. Everyone had lost a child or two. It brought a macabre sense of brotherhood and made Indrakumar and his wife stay alive.
NOT EVERYONE in Tamil country was equally smitten by Prabhakaran and the LTTEEspecially not people like Thiruneelakandan Saroja in Kilinochchi. Under the dim light of a lantern in a tiny hut, Saroja spoke bitterly of how her 22-year-old son was forcibly taken by the LTTE as cadre. He is now missing. “We live with our mouths shut,” she said in anger. Silenced by the Sri Lankan government, the LTTE and the loss of her son. But even her individual anger is subsumed by the larger sea of collective Tamil anguish. She added paradoxically that despite everything, she supported the cause of a separate Tamil nation.
It’s a sea inside that with all its repression and terror the State has been unable to obliterate. Soon after the war, Rajapaksa had declared to the Tamils that he would forge a political reconciliation by providing administrative autonomy to the provincial councils in the north. The news was celebrated in India and announced by all political parties as sign that India had put pressure on Sri Lanka to arrive at a political settlement for the Tamils. Two years later, Rajapaksa publicly went back on his word.
While addressing the people on Independence Day (4 February 2013), he took back that promise, saying that Sri Lanka was a nation with “no racial or religious differences” and therefore there was no need for greater autonomy in the Tamil majority provinces. 
The speech was delivered in former LTTE-held Trincomalee and the semantics of it were all too clear. 

The Tamils are a people without a nation, much like the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Tamil activists and MPs say there is reason for the rest of the world and India, in particular, to sit up and pay attention. Activists like Guruparan point out that the Tamil predicament is shared by many ethnic groups across the world. Whose only hope has survived in the support generated from the Tamil diaspora.
The Tamil diaspora is large, well-funded and spread across Europe, North America and Australia. Much of the lobbying and publicity for the cause and help for displaced Tamils come from these quarters. They are now saying their long-term vision is to be able to put pressure on the international community to force Sri Lanka to carve out territory for the Tamils that is administered internationally.
Like how East Timor separated out of Indonesia in 2002, after the intervention of the UN, to become Timor Leste. The intervention was the result of incessant lobbying by the East Timorese and a truth and reconciliation commission. The territory was administered by the UN from 1999 until 2012, when it was finally handed over to an independent government. The Tamils are now trying to get their version of the truth out. And given the history of violence and broken promises, most say, reconciliation is not an option.
They say their window of hope for now is twofold: India and the US — two countries that should be scared at the increasing proximity of the Sri Lankan government with China and Pakistan. Does India want the strong presence of Pakistan and China less than 5 km away from its southern coast, they ask. And they hope that the US will have similar fears and decide to back their cause. For now, that is their only recourse.
Former Tamil MP Ponnambalam puts it simply: “I think it’s dangerous for us to think about what is possible. If we start thinking about that, it only means assimilation. We must stop talking Tamil, we must give up our religion. We must be Sinhalese and Buddhist.”

OVER AND above the geopolitics and domestic Tamil politics that directly affects India, the Sri Lankan Tamils’ story raises a disturbing question. Can the desperate and continuing plight of a people be explained away by terrorism alone? For now, more than 22 lakh Tamils within Sri Lanka and an estimated 10 lakh in the diaspora, are asking this universally perplexing question. As their story also serves as a warning to other displaced people without a nation — while the world and the UN plays a double game, your idea of nationhood could be the next to disappear.
But even in the aftermath of the terror and genocide, the Tamil idea of nationhood has not disappeared. If India does not want another cycle of violence at its doorstep, it cannot afford to be indifferent to the voices of the Lankan Tamils.
revati@tehelka.com