The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Monday, 17 March 2008

Bail denied for Maheswaran murder suspects

Chief Magistrate Raveendra Premaratna Monday denied the bail appeal submitted on behalf of Francis Sutharsan, the second accused charged in connection with the assassination of T.Maheswaran, Colombo district United National Party(UNP) and Member of parliament, legal sources in Colombo said. The magistrate instructed the police to continue to keep the suspect in detention until further notice. Maheswaran was shot dead on New year day within the premises of Ponnampala Va'neasvarar temple, Colombo.

Police arrested five suspects including two women in connection with the assassination of Maheswaran and have interrogated them. Three of the suspects except the first suspect, Johnson Collin Valentine and the second suspect Francis Suthersan, were released on bail on 7 March.

Both suspects kept in detention were produced at the courts during Monday’s bail hearing.

The attorney-at-law appearing for the second suspect submitted a bail appeal stating that his client has been kept in detention for a number of weeks and appealed to the Magistrate to release the accused on bail.

Crime Prevention Police present during the hearing objected to the bail appeal and said the investigations into the murder is not yet completed and is still being continued.

The magistrate accepting the objection raised by police ordered the accused to be continued to be kept in detention and postponed the case till 27 March.

Source: Tamilnet

Swamy concerned about LTTE camps in Kerala

Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy today said it was a matter of serious concern that the LTTE has established camps in Kerala.

In a statement here, he said the Union Government's confirmation that LTTE cells have sprouted in Tamil Nadu and Kerala confirmed his warning about the group's activities in both states in the last two years.

He alleged that political parties in Tamil Nadu, like the ruling DMK, Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Marumalarchi DMK (MDMK), Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and Dravidar Kazhagam were demanding the implementation of Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP), primarily to assist the LTTE.

The creation of the shipping channel would help the LTTE to navigate quickly from Jaffna to the Kerala coasts, without having to go around the island of Sri Lanka.

The SSCP should be scrapped forthwith since it posed a major national security risk for the integrity of the nation, he said.


Anura Bandaranaike's remains taken to Parliament(video)

Video 1

Source: sl2kassa(YOUTUBE)

Video 2

Deadline by CPC employees expires tomorrow

With the deadline to meet the demands put forward by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation employees, to expire at midnight tomorrow (18), employees warned that they will resort to strike action as planned on Wednesday if the demands are not met.


Hand grenade found in a school bus

A hand grenade was found by the Kahawatta Police, in a school bus parked near the Gankanda Central College Palmadulla, Ratnapura today. The bus and the driver were arrested by the Police


Anil Ambani's DTH(Big TV) to beam this month via 100 channels

Big TV Ltd, a fully owned subsidiary of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications (RCOM), will launch direct-to-home (DTH) services commercially by the end of this month. Budget 2008-09

It expects to offer DTH services to over 10 million subscribers across the country and feed to over 15 million households.

Big TV will offer set-top boxes (STBs) at Rs 1,000-Rs 1,500, along with a monthly subscription package of Rs 300, which will entitle them to watch the channels being aired; it will also provide subscribers Rs 100 worth pay-per view (PPV) movies. They will have access to 30 PPV channels showing Bollywood, Hollywood and regional films.

Sumit Chowdhury, CIO, Reliance Communications, said: "The DTH service will commercially launch before the end of March."

He declined to give the number of channels and other details but sources said that Big TV will offer around 100 channels initially. Later, the company is expected to increase the number of channels to 300.

Industry sources said the launch is likely only in May 2008 as the hardware is not yet ready, and the company will prefer the launch after school vacation commences on May 2008 though it was not independently confirmed.

Meanwhile, Chowdhury said Wimax technology isn't cost-effective at present due to spectrum shortage. Nationwide launch of Wimax services will depend on the availability of more spectrum, he said.

At present, the DTH market is dominated by two private players — Essel group's Dish TV and TataSky, which is a joint venture between the Tatas and Rupert Murdoch's Star Group.

Dish TV, the first DTH player in the country, has around 3 million subscribers, while TataSky has over 1.7 million. Apart from these, Bharti group and Sun TV will also launch DTH in by year-end. According to an estimate, the DTH reach in India is likely to expand from 2.5 million households now to 16 million by 2010.

Unlike cable, DTH is a more organised and a less-regulated business. With heavyweights foraying into the space, the DTH segment is set to outpace digital cable in the near term and become a 14 million home market by fiscal 2010.


Indian TV industry to cross $11.5 billion by 2012: MPA

A new survey featuring updated forecasts from Hong Kong-based Media Partners Asia (MPA) predicts that the Indian television industry will grow at an average annual rate of 16 per cent to generate more than $11.5 billion in annual revenues by 2012 versus $5.5 billion presently.

MPA predicts that the total TV industry revenues could ultimately reach close to $19 billion by 2017.

Subscription revenues could climb from $3.8 billion at the end of 2007 to reach $7.8 billion by 2012 and $12.3 billion by 2017. Key drivers include the increasing deployment of new digitised pay-TV distribution systems through direct-to-home (DTH) platforms and also through cable networks, as well as the continued expansion of analogue cable television distribution.

Digital pay-TV subscribers, including cable, DTH and IPTV could grow to 38 million by 2012 and 57 million by 2017.

Because of price regulation as well as intense competition on price, MPA models slow growth in average monthly revenue per subscriber with fees climbing from $4.1 in 2007 to $4.9 by 2012 and $6.3 by 2017.

MPA says TV advertising will be fuelled by economic growth and increased cable TV penetration but predicts TV’s share of the overall ad pie to come under threat in the long-term through the growth of out-of-home media, online and radio.

TV had a 42 per share of the advertising pie in 2007 with advertising growing by 19 per cent to reach $1.48 billion. MPA sees TV advertising growing at an average annual rate of 19 per cent between 2007–12 to reach $3.5 billion by 2012. TV advertising could ultimately reach $6.3 billion in net terms by 2017.

MPA has downgraded estimates on subscription revenues for TV channels by around $1 billion due to the effects of price regulation and the emphasis on lower content spend by emerging digital pay-TV platforms.

Currently, close to 15 per cent of the TV industry distribution pie is fed through to TV channels. The MPA sees this growing to more than 20 per cent by 2012 and 21 per cent by 2017, which still represents a robust revenue stream in the longer-term with channel fees growing from $0.5 billion in 2007 to reach $1.6 billion by 2012 and $2.6 billion by 2017.

At the same time, MPA has upgraded its estimates on advertising growth due to a robust economy and the long-term effects of an expanding subscriber base for cable & satellite television.

Advertising to still dominate broadcasters revenue: Broadcasters generated $2 billion in aggregate revenues in 2007, a big pie but one’s that fragmenting rapidly with the launch of hundreds of new TV channels including new offerings in key ad spend categories. Distribution costs are increasing along with marketing and content expense, lowering margins and earnings visibility not only for new entrants but also certain incumbents.

Nonetheless the MPA sees the broadcaster revenue pie growing rapidly to top $5 billion by 2012 and reach close to $ 9 billion by 2017. This will make India still the leading Asian market for pay-TV content suppliers and pay-TV channels. Around 70 per cent of channel revenues will still come from advertising in the long-term.

TV Distribution Market: MPA sees the market for pay-TV growing from 82 million homes at the end of 2007 to 137 million by 2012 and approx. 164 million by 2017. This means that household penetration could climb from 64 per cent in 2007 to 82 per cent by 2012 and 85 per cent by 2017.

Cable will have 67 per cent of TV homes by 2017; DTH pay-TV, excluding DD Direct, 17 per cent; and IPTV, 1 per cent.

MPA has recalculated its digital pay-TV distribution forecasts, based on net subscribers as opposed to gross numbers, which are currently being used by DTH operators. This calculation incorporates analysis of subscriber churn on both digital DTH and cable networks.

With this methodology, MPA estimates the total market for digital pay-TV (DTH, mandated Cas and voluntary Cas) at approximately four million subscriber homes (DTH, 3.2 million; cable, 0.8 million). MPA sees this digital base growing to 38.2 million by 2012 and 57 million by 2017.

This means that 30 per cent of television homes in India will have digital TV by 2017 with 55 per cent still on analogue. By 2017, 32.3 million homes will get digital pay-TV through DTH; 22 million through cable; and less than three million through IPTV.

China, MPA forecasts, will have 185 million digital subscribers by 2015. But the vast majority of Chinese digital homes will be subscribers to free-to-air TV channels through utility cable networks. China is expected to have only 43 million digital pay-TV subs by 2017, which means that India, with 57 million addressable digital subscribers, will remain the largest accessible pay-TV market for media owners, distributors and investors.

Cable: The long-awaited consolidation and digitisation of India’s analogue cable infrastructure is facing a challenging environment as financing for green-field distribution projects is becoming harder to source and the per subscriber valuations for last mile local cable operators remain high. Additionally, multi-system cable operators competing for acquisitions and subscribers in key overlapping areas, increase the price of valuations.

MPA further forecasts show digital cable subscribers growing to 12.5 million by 2012 and 22 million by 2017.

According to MPA, cable TV ARPUs (total) will be $5 by 2012 and $6.2 by 2017.

DTH : MPA believes that the DTH market will consolidate from six would be operators in 2008/9 to three platforms in the long-term. We expect aggressive subsidies and customer acquisition to drive the DTH proposition and see limits to ARPU growth in the short-term but no limits to losses. As a result, those comfortable with long-term balance sheets are likely to prosper: these include Reliance, Bharti and Tata Sky.

The company sees DTH growing from a net installed paying user base of 3.2 million at CYE December 2007 to reach 25 million by 2012 and more than 32 million by 2017.

MPA forecasts monthly DTH Arpus climbing only from $4 in 2007 to $4.3 by 2012 but thereafter model more significant price growth with ARPUs growing to $6.7 by 2012.

DTH operators will be generating $2.8 billion in annual revenues by 2017.


Asia-Pacific will Outpace Europe in IPTV Market Says New RNCOS Report

The global IPTV market is growing at an unprecedented rate worldwide as the number of broadband subscribers is rising, specifically in the Asia- Pacific region.

IPTV is a new age technology in which digital television service is delivered using the Internet Protocol (IP) over network infrastructure. The global IPTV industry is rapidly expanding with the rising penetration of broadband in households all over the world, says “Global IPTV: Market Analysis and Forecast to 2011”, a comprehensive market research report by RNCOS, a leading market research company.

The report has found that the global IPTV market is currently dominated by Europe but it is expected that Asia will emerge as a stronger competitor to Europe in coming years. The number of broadband subscribers will take long jump in the Asia-Pacific region and it is expected to grow at Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 91% during 2006-2011. RNCOS report has thoroughly studied the reasons that are promoting the IPTV market in the Asia-Pacific region with special focus on the implications of regulations, penetration of personal computers and quality of broadband service.

The report has also discovered that only six countries from the Asia-Pacific region, namely South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and Macao, came in the world’s top 20 countries, which had good broadband penetration in 2005, as measured by the International Telecommunication Union. But India and China, two fastest developing economies, will also be included in these six countries as the number of broadband subscription is rising in these countries, including rural areas. In fact, the rural areas of both the countries are offering enormous growth opportunities for the expansion of broadband. However, the Philippines is also expected to join the league soon.

Though the IPTV market is expected to grow at a high rate in Asia-Pacific region in coming years, there are many challenges in the way. The RNCOS report has deeply studied the forces that can obstruct the expansion rate of IPTV service in the region.

“Global IPTV: Market Analysis and Forecast to 2011” is a comprehensive evaluation of the past performance, current market trends and future prospects of the IPTV technology. It has analyzed the IPTV market trends in various parts of the world including Europe, North America, and Asia-Pacific region. Besides, the report also focuses on the global as well as regional IPTV subscriber base, broadband subscribers and service revenue.


RNCOS, incorporated in the year 2002, is an industry research firm. It has a team of industry experts who analyze data collected from credible sources. They provide industry insights and analysis that helps corporations to take timely and accurate business decision in today's globally competitive environment.


Twenty20 like `three-minute Maggie noodles': Ranatunga

Sri Lankan World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga thinks Indian selectors are right in axing Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid from One-Day Internationals (ODI).

He says the young Indian team "did extremely well", gave the Australians back in sledging to win the triangular series and are now top contenders for the next World Cup.

To Ranatunga, president of the Sri Lankan cricket board, Indian ODI captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been a revelation and Sachin Tendulkar can play till the next World Cup if he is "protected properly".

According to the Sri Lankan southpaw, Muttiah Muralitharan is on track to capture 1,000 Test wickets.

Ranatunga calls Twenty20 "three-minute Maggie noodles" and no cricket. Though the stocky Sri Lankan justifies the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in organizing the Indian Premier League (IPL) to earn money, he says the concept will harm the sport in the long run.

Ranatunga, who was in Toronto on a personal visit and felicitated by Canadian Cricket Association CEO Atul Ahuja Saturday, spoke at length with IANS.

Excerpts from interview:

Q: What do you think about India's just concluded controversial tour to Australia and their victory over the world champions in one-dayers?

A: I think the young Indian side did extremely well. They are a promising lot and can win the next World Cup. I am very impressed with Dhoni's attitude. He has turned out to be a good ODI captain. Frankly, I never expected him to do so well. He has become a different man, and people see that difference. He has cut his hair short and looks stylish (laughs).

Q: Do you think it was right to drop Ganguly and Rahul from one-dayers?

I think the Indian board made the right decision. They picked up the young team and made them play against the Aussies in Australia. Now that is not easy. But these young Indians have done so well.

Though I think Ganguly is still a great player, but he and Rahul have to go. The Indians are planning for the next World Cup and these two players don't fit in that plan.

In fact, we in Sri Lanka want to follow the same approach. Selections will be made keeping the next World Cup in mind.

Q: Do you justify Sachin Tendulkar's retention in the ODI team?

A: Sachin is a special case. He is totally different, and he can play till the next World Cup if he is protected properly. I think he should be played selectively.

Q: What are your views on the Harbhajan-Symonds controversy and the sledging in cricket?

A: Sledging should stop now. It has gone too far. I don't know whether they (the Australians) still overdo it, but they were the first to start it. Now that others have started giving them back, they are disturbed. But they should remember that it is a different world now.

Q: Do you think the Indians are right in having two captains - Dhoni for one-dayers, and Kumble for Tests?

A: As I said, the Indians are making the right moves. They entrusted the Test captaincy to Anil Kumble who is a senior player and respected in world cricket for his achievements. And Dhoni has come good in ODIs.

Q: With Shane Warne retired and Anil Kumble and Mutthiah Murlitharan at the end of their careers, do you see any great spinners on the horizon?

A: No. I cannot see a single proper spinner playing now, apart from Kumble and Murali.

Q: How long can Murali go?

A: He can play for the next four years. I am sure he will take 1,000 wickets easily if he doesn't get injured. He is a special case - he is like Tendulkar in batting. He is totally different and his commitment to cricket is huge. When he gets a ball, he can bowl for at least two hours without any problem. We will try to protect him till the next World Cup - he may play only a few games till then.

Q: What do you think about the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Twenty20 cricket?

A: I don't dispute that the Indian board has every right to earn revenue. After all, they have to pay for running the sport. My worry is not that the board is making lots of money; my problem is about players.

Yes, the seniors may not be a problem because they have gone through it. But why should a young player be bothered to play for his country if he can make so much money in just one or two months in IPL?

That's the issue. If players are given wrong values, the game will go to pieces. With IPL offering huge amounts of money, players' attitude to the game will change.

It may not be a major issue now, but it can become a big problem in two years' time.

You have to decide whether cricket is business or sport.

Q: So you don't agree with Twenty20 cricket?

A: It is like three-minute Maggie noodle. Bang, bang, and it is over. For me, it is not cricket. It is raw power. How can any great players fit in it?

Take Kumara Sangakkara. He is the greatest batsman in cricket now. But how will you judge him in Twenty20? ODIs are okay, but Test cricket is real cricket.

Q: Looking back, when you started your career in 1982, Sri Lanka were the minnows of world cricket. How did you transform within a decade to become world-beaters?

A: We changed our mind-set and commitment to the game. We became totally committed to the sport. Like when I took over, it was clear to everyone that they have to give me their 100 percent. Or they could walk away. I told them that I would be proud if they showed 100 percent commitment even if we lost the game.

So, total commitment to cricket was our first step.

The second step was transformation of our attitude. We have a problem in our Asian culture. We are taught to be submissive. We are not taught to hit back. But we decided that we would give back (to our opponents) as much we got. We went to Australia and started giving them back. The Aussies were unsettled as they have been against the Indians recently. Our philosophy was: don't leave an opponent when you are on top. Don't pull the knives out, but turn it around in your victim.

The third step was self-belief. We stared believing that we are better than our opponents, and it worked. I would tell myself that I am better than Wasim Akram or Sachin. That's how we transformed ourselves.

Q: And that's how you won the 1996 World Cup?

A: Here I think the turning point came when we lost the first Test within three days during the 1995-96 Pakistan tour. We vowed to win the next matches and immediately went to practice. We won the next two Tests and made history. That led us to the World Cup victory.


Major General Sarath Munasinghe dies

Former Deputy Speaker and Parliamentarian Major General Sarath Munasinghe has passed away at a private hospital in Colombo this morning. He had also functioned as an Army Media Spokesman. He was 59 years old at the time of his death.Major General Munasinghe enlisted into the Sri Lanka Army as a cadet on 15th February 1970 and was commissioned as an Officer in the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Sri Lanka Artillery and rose to the rank of Major General on 23rd February 1998.

During career of twenty nine years in the Army, he held many appointments. He was the Commanding Officer of 6th Regiment Sri Lanka Artillery, Commander 15 Brigade Group, Mannar, Commander 12 Brigade Group, Colombo, Coordinating Officer Welioya, Coordinating Chief Batticalao, Ampara, Polonnaruwa Districts, General Officer Commanding 51 Division and 54 Division in 1998 .

Major General Munasinghe was also the Army Director Psy Ops and Director Media Operations Head Quarters , Ministry of Defense and Director Media Army Headquarters whilst being the Army spokesman . Major General Munasinghe was educated at Maliyadeva College , Kurunegala . He leaves behind his wife and two sons. The funeral will take place in Kurunegala with full Military Honors .

Mr. Munasinghe, who entered the Parliament in the year 2000 as a member of the Peoples’ Alliance, representing the Kurunegala District, has been ailing for some time.


Socialists across the world declare solidarity with Sri Lanka's Tamils

The NSSP, the Sri Lankan section of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International, is campaigning to oppose the Sri Lankan government’s military onslaught against the Tamil people. As part of this, it has launched a statement now signed by thirty USFI and other socialist organisations across the world.

While maintaining our disagreements with the USFI, Workers’ Liberty has signed the statement, and we urge other socialist/revolutionary organisations in Britain to do likewise.

For more information, see the NSSP website.

Sri Lanka appeal

In the aftermath of the unilateral withdrawal by the Rajapakse regime from the Ceasefire Agreement, and the growing civilian massacres, destruction and absence of the rule of law, there can be little doubt that the government’s intention to impose a military solution to the Tamil question is bringing grief and suffering to huge numbers of civilians of all ethnic groups, not only Tamils but also the Sinhala and Muslim masses.

We have a collective duty of solidarity with peoples subjugated by oppressive regimes. That is why we defend the just cause of the Tamil people and demand justice and peace for them in their homeland where they have lived for centuries. The permanent risk to human life and the absence of productive life are condemning hundreds of thousands of Tamils to be refugees in their own homeland, without shelter, suffering from shortages of food, fuel, medical supplies and electricity. This brings untold suffering to the sick and needy, especially affecting women and children.

Since 1974 our comrades of the NSSP/Left Front have been campaigning for the recognition of the Tamil nationality, autonomy for their homeland and their right to self-determination. This constitutes the basis for the resolution of the chronic and deteriorating conflict in Sri Lanka.

In the present crucial moment we appeal to left and progressive organisations, trade unions, intellectuals and the progressive media all over the world to give their support to a solution based on the recognition of Tamil nationhood, their homeland, autonomy and the right to self-determination. We demand that the Sri Lankan government halt air bombardments and artillery shelling of civilian settlements, restore the ceasefire and abandon its attempts to impose its will on the Tamil people by military force.

Launched 4 March 2008

The signatories

Algeria - Socialist Workers Party (PST)
Basque country - Ezker Gogoa (EG)
Belgium - Socialist Workers' Party (SAP)
Bolivia - Partido Obrero Revolucionario. Combate
Brazil - Socialism and Freedom Party (P-SOL)
Denmark - Socialist Workers' Party (SAP)
Ecuador - Democracia Socailista (DS)
Ecuador - Refundacion Socialista (RS)
France - Revolutionary Communist League (LCR)
France - Europe Solidaire Sans Frontiere (ESSF)
Germany - International Socialist Left (ISL)
Germany - Revolutionary Socialist League (RSB)
Greece - Kokkino – Red
Greece - Organization of Communist Internationalists of Greece-Spartacus (OKDE Spartakos)
Italy - Bandiera Rossa Association (BRA)
Japan - Japan Revolutionary Communist League (JRCL)
Mexico - Revolutionary Workers' Party (PRT)
Netherlands - Socialist Alternative Politics (SAP))
Netherlands - International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE)
Pakistan - Labour Party of Pakistan (LPP)
Peru - Resistencia Global (RG)
Philippines - Revolutionary Workers Party - Mindanao (RWP-M)
Puerto Rico - Political Education Workshop (TFP)
USA - International Socialist Organization (ISO)
UK – International Socialist Group (ISG)
UK – Workers’ Liberty (AWL)
Sweden - Socialist Party (SP)
Switzerland – G Anticap
Turkey - Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP)
Quebec - Gauche Socialiste (GS)


Sri Lanka State Own Television - Rupavahini under Military Control ?

Sri Lanka state-owned television station - Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corperation (SLRC) is now running under the controller of military following the management declared a "holiday" overnight to avert a strike, union workers said.

The premises was barricaded and only a few selected staffers were allowed in, television workers said

According to sources, the Main Control Room of channel now controlled by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) personnels. Also a large number of military personnel including the anti-riot squad have been deployed at the SLRC premises.

Several Rupavahini workers including a female, have been attacked continuously following an incident where junior labor minister Mervyn Silva was held hostage by staff of the station after he stormed the newsroom and assaulted its news chief.

President Mahinda Rajapakse is to meet television worker unions later in the day.

All live programs of the channel were halted since Friday (14). The station now airing only pre-recorded programs.

International media rights bodies have said Sri Lanka is one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists after Iraq.


Maritime defence expo gets under way today

AT least 16 warships from nine countries have arrived in Doha as part of the 1st Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference, (DIMDEX 2008), getting under way today at Doha International Exhibition Center.
The exhibition, the first of its kind to be hosted in Qatar, will feature more than 80 manufacturers in the warship industry, from 14 countries.
HH the Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani will inaugurate the three-day event.
Giving this information yesterday, the organisers, represented by Qatar Emiri Naval Forces (QENF) and Qatar MICE Development Institute (QMDI), said the exhibition would feature at least 58 VIP delegations from 42 countries, including several world renowned naval experts.
Head of Maritime Studies Programme at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence (RUSI), Lee Willet, said the conference to be held alongside the exhibition was as important as the event itself for the participants as well as those interested in understanding the latest developments in the warships arena.
Working in the military sciences department at the UK’s RUSI, Willet has held several responsibilities related to military capability programmes and their research.
The inaugural exhibition will serve the strategic maritime security needs of the Middle East and North African (Mena) region, said Roger Marriott, managing director of Dimdex 2008. He said the event was modelled after a major exhibition like Imdex Asia series in Singapore. National pavilions from France, Germany, UK, USA and Sweden would be among the exhibitors, he added.
“The Mena region is one of the most strategically important maritime regions in the world and, as a result, one of the fastest growing marketplaces for naval procurements,” he said.
Naval expenditure over the next 20 years is forecast to reach $23bn, with some 300 new ships expected to be manufactured, together with associated naval systems and helicopters over the period, added Mariott.
Speaking later, Staff Colonel of QENF Khalid Yehya Alkhuzaei said that in the Mena region, there was no dedicated forum for the promotion of maritime systems and equipment. “As a result, our leaders and policymakers have decided to stage a major event in Doha, catering to the needs of the region,” he said.
QENF Staff Brigadier Mohamed N al-Mohannadi will host the VIP delegations at the event.
The conference will feature presentations from senior officers and policy experts on the theme ‘Challenges, capabilities and co-operation in maritime security’.
The programme includes 12 parallel sessions involving a total of 46 international speakers.
Bob Nugent, a senior naval market consultant was among those present at the briefing. Until recently, Nugent served as director of command and control programmes for the US Navy’s acquisition staff at the Pentagon. Also in attendance was Marc Holloram, an official of Dimdex 2008.
High ranking naval officials from Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Egypt, Eritrea, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Arab League, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, The Netherlands, Oman, Pakistan, The Philippines, Poland, Qatar, South Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK, USA and Yemen will participate in the event.


One Third of Sri Lanka will go under Water once India completes Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project

One third of Sri Lanka is to go under water once India completes cutting the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project. So far Sri Lankan Government has not protested to India for making arrangements to cut this Ship Canal Project, a catastrophic land subsidence program which would immerse one third of Sri Lanka under water?

The geological survey reveals that dredging the floor bed of the Gulf of Mannar, there is a grave danger of land subsidence and likelihood of sea overcoming several islands belonging to Sri Lanka in the western coast and Jaffna peninsula along with several areas in the Western portion of the mainland up to Anuradhapura getting inundated and gradually sinking into the ocean in the future.

But despite warning by numerous researchers on this project and even by the Committee appointed by the Foreign Affairs Ministry to go into this Canal Cutting project, Sri Lanka Government has not taken up this issue seriously to sent in its protest to India, urging to stop the canal cutting forthwith.

Land Subsidence

Since 1999, K.T.Rajasingham has pointed out, “.. When India begins the cutting of a canal in the Gulf of Mannar region, there is the possibility for many islands, nearly 85 islands from the north up to Galle in the south and a large portion of land mass in the west and northern coast to go under the sea.”

An Article written by K.T.Rajasingham, who was one of the pioneers who warned Sri Lanka about the dangers of this Ship Canal Project, cautioned the Sri Lanka Government way back in 1999, that if this Canal cutting is completed then “Jaffna peninsula could go under water once Miocene era lime stone reefs extracted away and its continuity forcefully terminated. It is deplorable that India has decided to implement a catastrophic land subsidence program without taking into account the serious environmental implications it might cause to its neighboring country. "

Rajasingham in his article further pointed out, “According to geologists, once a canal with a total length of 99.88 nautical miles is laid by dredging the sea-floor 35 to 40 feet below the present level, it would tend to break the continuous limestone formation, which would result in causing sudden tilt, drift, gravitational pull and numerous other violent process also might take place deep inside the floor-bed of Lanka and its islands.

He added, “It is also said that this process of land subsidence may not happen immediately, but there is likelihood of sea overcoming several islands belonging to Sri Lanka in the western coast and Jaffna peninsula along with several areas in the Western portion of the mainland inundated and gradually to sink into the ocean in the future.

Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project

Sri Lanka Government’s concern

Sri Lankan at one point of time showed serious concern about the proposed canal cutting to link Palk Strait with the Gulf of Mannar and the Bay of Bengal. Its epicenter was India's proposed 'Sethusamudra Ship Canal Project (SSCP)'. The groundswell resulting from it fuelled by massive media hype which was equally earth shattering on both sides of the Palk Strait.

Subsequently, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was compelled to issue a press release on 14 October 2004, to calm the rising tide of public concern over the proposed SSCP as follows:

"During the past weeks, there has been extensive public discussion regarding the perceived implications arising for Sri Lanka from the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project to be implemented by the Government of India".

The press release added that, "overall, the views expressed in the public domain in this regard have arisen because of the possible broad repercussions of the project on Sri Lanka in environmental and economic terms, as well as concerns arising from its proximity to the territorial seas and the landmass of Sri Lanka". It further informed the public that the government had taken these concerns on board and had appointed an Inter-Ministerial Committee to report on same, while simultaneously being engaged in a process of consultation with India. “

Subsequently Foreign Affairs Ministry appointed a Committee to go into this India’s Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project.

Even after the report has been presented by the Committee warning of the serious implication that will ensue, Sri Lanka Government has so far not protested to India to stop dredging the Palk Strait to avoid a major portion of the Island going under the water.

Environmental concern by the Ministry

RecentlyAsian Tribune contacted Champika Ranawaka Minister of Environment and Natural Resources.

The Minister said, “As far as the Sethu Samuthira Shipping Canal Project is concerned, I think that various aspects of the project have been taken into consideration for the benefit of India and Sri Lanka as well.”

He added, “The security aspects, the environmental aspects and few social issues are also taken in for consideration. As far as the Environmentalist are concerned there are concern about Maritime, biodiversity and various other things.”

“We have already informed our concerns to the relevant Indian authorities. Our concern is about maritime biodiversity that can be destroyed and they have taken into account and they have informed us that we prepare a comprehensive environmental impact assessment on that and these proposal have been send to the Indian Authority and they are yet to reply to us. At present, we are discussing how we could jointly implement various remedial measures to conserve our marine environment,” Minister Champika Ranawaka pointed out.

Asian Tribune: But I think that you have not taken up the geological aspect of the project. This concern was there even before you took up the environment ministry. Some people who have represented Sri Lanka Government has not fully represented the cause and concerns of Sri Lanka.

Minister Champika Ranawaka: There is a committee at the Foreign Ministry and our officials are also members of this committee and our concerns are very clearly identified and actually the proposal has now been clearly formulated. This proposal, the environmental impact assessment has been already submitted to the relevant Indian Authorities and we are discussing now what practical measures are needed to conserve the environment. As far as the commercial aspect is concerned there will be very little impact on our commercial ports.

However Asian Tribune learns that Sri Lankan authorities have failed to look into the geological impact of this project when more than 35 to 40 meters of the seabed floor of Gulf of Mannar is dredged.