Twenty four government and opposition MPs have taken wing to several countries on tsunami early warning system study tours unaccompanied by a single official or expert on natural disasters, parliament sources said yesterday.
These MPs split into four groups left for Germany, Japan, Australia and Turkey on NGO- funded excursions, while a team of experts and officials sanctioned by President Chandrika Kumaratunga will be representing the country at a regional meeting later this week on establishing an early warning system.
The majority of the MPs who left over the weekend are members of the recently appointed parliament disaster select committee, while a few MPs who are reportedly not linked to the mission have also joined the foreign trip, the sources said.
Environment and Natural Resources Minister A.H.M Fowzie yesterday charged that the select committee which was set up to study the lack of national preparedness during the December 26 tsunami, had no right to go abroad and study tsunami early warning systems.
`The committee was appointed to assess the shortcomings the country faced when the tsunami struck`, he said.
The Minister said though he was the minister in charge of matters relating to natural disasters, it was disappointing that he was not consulted by the parliamentarians who went on the mission.
Meanwhile, an official Sri Lankan delegation appointed by President Kumaratunga will leave for Mauritius on Thursday to take part in an official UNESCO regional meeting on the setting up of a tsunami early warning system.
The team comprises Minister Fowzie, Science and Technology Minister Tissa Witharana, Chiefs of the Meteorological department and the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau, a representative of the National Aquatic Research Agency and a Foreign Ministry official. "