The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Friday, 21 March 2008

Mannar claymore blast on army bus

Two soldiers were killed and 11 others sustained serious injuries when a suspected LTTE claymore mine exploded targeting an army bus in South Bar area Mannar in the evening.


India set to relax limits on foreign DHT ownership

The regulator TRAI has recently suggested that India should relax its tough limits on foreign ownership and inward investment into DTH broadcasting.

At present foreign investors are limited to owning just 49% of an investment in DTH broadcasting, pay-TV operations and teleport Earth stations.

In an unprecedented move reports from New Delhi have stated that these limits are set to be raised to 74%. This limit is also set to apply to satellite radio operators. This could potentially help WorldSpace to expand its presence in India.

Nonetheless cable TV foreign ownership limits will stick at 49%. This has incensed that sector who wanted limits to raise to 74% on par with telecoms companies. Foreign ownership of Indian news and current affairs TV channels is set to stay at an even lower 26%.


Anil Ambani group to launch 20 TV channels

The Reliance Dhirubhai Ambani Group is set to launch 20 TV channels in the country as part of its plans to expand the reach in the fast-growing broadcast entertainment business, top company officials said.

The group, which has Reliance Entertainment as a subsidiary, is foraying into the broadcast business through two companies Reliance Big TV Entertainment and Reliance Big TV News, the officials added.

"We are at the planning stage. So we are not revealing the details of the media project right now. At the appropriate time - very shortly perhaps - we will make a formal announcement," a spokesperson for the group told IANS.

"The first of these channels will go on air probably in July-August this year. We have already applied for approval of these channels from the information and broadcasting ministry," the spokesperson added.

Two separate companies are being floated since the government imposes restrictions on foreign direct investment in the news media sector and the group is proposing two general news and two business news channels in Hindi and English.

The group wants to remain open to the idea of roping in an international player in the entertainment TV segment, officials explained.

Although the other 16 channels have not yet been finalised, the idea is for two TV channels catering to Hindi entertainment and regional movies. Besides, plans also include channels for children and on lifestyle and leisure.

The Rs.130-billion Reliance Entertainment Ltd has interests in the production, distribution and exhibition of films, besides foraying into FM radio, Internet and television content.

The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, through its subsidiaries, also has equity stakes in a number of media and entertainment companies. The group also markets music and movies under the labels of Big Music and Big Flicks.

In 2005, the group had also acquired Adlabs Films, which is among the largest entertainment companies in India with interests in film processing, production, exhibition and digital cinema. Through it, the company has forayed into FM radio under the Big 927 FM banner and has licences for 45 stations.

It already runs 12 stations across the country with more planned in the ensuing months.

Source: NDTV

Price of wheat flour to be increased by 10 rupees

Prima Company (Private) limited, the monopoly in wheat flour trade in Sri Lanka has requested a price hike by 10 rupees per one kilo of wheat flour.

According to the company sources, a written request has been made with this regard to the Consumer Services Authority to which the approval is yet to receive.

The company says that the increasing of wheat prices in the global market and the shipping costs are the reasons for this decision.

Two months earlier, the company increased the price of one kilo of flour by 13 rupees. The retail price of one kilo of wheat flour is 75 rupees in the present market.

Poor weather conditions in wheat producing countries have resulted in shorter supplies of wheat flour and higher grain prices.

Source: colombopost

Maruti most preferred imported car in Lanka

Country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India has emerged as the most preferred 'imported car manufacturer' in neighbouring Sri Lanka.

The company said that according to recent import statistics released by the Sri Lankan government, it has been declared the most preferred "imported car manufacturer".

This is the fifth year in succession that MSI has bagged the position, it said in a statement.

The company has so far exported over 3,600 units to Sri Lanka, it added. Cumulatively, Maruti has exported over 26,000 units since it started operations in Sri Lanka in 1989-90 with a first batch of 10 vehicles.

The car maker's most popular model Maruti-800 alone accounts for over 16,000 units in Sri Lanka, besides Alto and Swift being the other popular models. It exports all the models to Sri Lanka, but SX4.

According to the import study by the Sri Lankan government, MSI said there had been a shift in consumer's choice from second-hand imported vehicles to new cars.

Sale of new car in the island nation spurred after its government incentivised new vehicle purchases over used or refurbished, which a senior Maruti official termed as "a positive development".


Twenty-one rebels killed in confrontations in northern Sri Lanka

At least 21 rebels were killed in sporadic confrontations in northern Sri Lanka as government troops continued military operations to recapture rebel held areas, a military spokesman said Friday. Fighting was reported from the Welioya area, 280 kilometres north- east of the capital, in Vavuniya, 240 kilometres north of the capital, and in Mannar, 320 kilometres north of the capital, on Thursday and Friday.

Government troops used rocket-propelled grenades and small arms to attack rebel targets in the areas as rebels also carried out attacks on the forces.

The military spokesman said that no deaths were reported among soldiers, but at least 10 of them suffered injuries.

The incidents came as the government moved the majority of the police commandos deployed in the east to the front lines in the northern province in an apparent move to step up operations against the rebels.

The police commandos, known as the Special Task Force (STF), will be mainly deployed to protect villages vulnerable to rebel attacks.

Military commanders have declared that they want to recapture rebel-held areas in the north before the end of the year.

Earlier, troops recaptured rebel-held areas in the north and local elections were held. Nominations have been called for provincial elections in the east for May.


STF withdrawn from 10 camps in East

Sweeping changes in Police Dept., new chiefs appointed to CID, STF

By Sunil Jayasiri

With heightened military activities in the North, the Defence Ministry has decided to withdraw the Special Task Force from more than ten camps in the East and Mannar, in order to deploy them in LTTE threatened areas in Welioya, police sources said.

A top Police official said that the Army would take over those camps in the East and Vavuniya areas. “The Ministry has decided to withdraw the STF from some camps in the Ampara and Akkaraipattu areas and deploy them in LTTE threatened villages in Welioya, including Kebithigollewa, shortly,” the police official said.

He also said that the Army would take over security in the Ampara and Akkaraippatu areas, where the STF was present. “The process will start next week,” he added.

Meanwhile, confirming the report, Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that the Ministry had taken a decision to withdraw STF personnel from camps certain areas in the East as well as the Vavuniya area.

“The decision has been taken in order to facilitate future military operations,” Brigadier Nanayakkara said. He added that the STF personnel would be deployed in some areas in the Welioya sector.

“Only the STF camps in some areas will be withdrawn, others in the Eastern region will remain,” he added.

At present there are several STF camps in the Mannar and Vavuniya areas in addition to those in the East. Following the recapture of the entire Batticaloa District by the military, STF personnel had taken over the control of the district in order release the Army for the operations in the North.

The STF are responsible for the recapture of the Kanchikudichchiaru area from the LTTE after launching several military operations.

Meanwhile, days after appointing ten new Deputy Inspectors General, sweeping changes have been made in the Police service, including yesterday’s removal of the STF Commandant and the CID Chief.

According to the new orders, approved by the National Police Commission, CID Chief D.W. Prathapasinghe has been transferred to Sabaragamuwa and DIG Sisira Mendis appointed as the new CID Chief. DIG Mendis will be also in charge of the Terrorist Investigation Department and the Disappearance Investigation Unit.

Deputy Inspector General Nimal Lewke, who was the STF Commandant, has been replaced by Senior DIG K.L.M. Sarathchandra. DIG Lewke will continue as DIG Operations of the Western Province.

The other new appointments are as follows: DIGs A Gunatilake as DIG Moneragala Operations Range, P. Nanayakkara as DIG North-Western Range, Puttalam, R.P.S.K. Rajapaksa as DIG Ampara, H.M.D. Herath as DIG Eastern Range Central, Batticaloa, A Jayasinghe as DIG Training and Exams, S. Michel as DIG Recruitments, W.P. Dayaratne as DIG Ombudsman, J. Abeysiri Gunawardane as Central Range, East Nuwara Eliya, U. Hewagae as DIG Crimes, Police Headquarters.

Early last week, ten SSPs were promoted as DIGs.


Lanka agrees to play ODI series

Sri Lanka has agreed to play an unscheduled five-match one-day series in Pakistan from April 23 to May 5, official sources confirmed here on Thursday.

Pakistan invited Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to play bilateral one-day rubbers after security apprehensions prompted Australia to postpone its tour of the country for a full series which was due to start from March 29.

“Talks between the Chairmen of the Pakistan and Sri Lankan boards, Nasim Ashraf and Arjuna Ranatunga, were successful and the Lankans will tour from April 23 to May 5,” a Pakistan Cricket Board source said.

Bangladesh had earlier given its nod for a one-day series from April 6 to 22.

The PCB source said venues for the series against Sri Lanka had been decided and would be announced later


Roshan Mahanama named Match Referee for India-SA series

Sri Lankan Roshan Mahanama will be the Match Referee for India's three-match Test series against South Africa starting in Chennai next week.

Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf and New Zealander Tony Hill will officiate in the Chennai Test (Mar 26-30) while Hill will be joined by Jamaican Billy Doctrove for the second Test in Ahmedabad from April 3.

Rauf will team up with Doctrove for the third Test in Kanpur (Apr 11-15), according to an International Cricket Council (ICC) release here on Thursday.

ICC also named Chris Broad as the Match Referee for Sri Lanka's tour of the West Indies comprising two Test matches and three one-dayers.

Simon Taufel and Billy Bowden will officiate in the Test series. Taufel will stand in the entire ODI series as well along with local appointments.