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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Friday, March 16, 2007

Organic fertiliser as an option for coconut growers

Daily News: 16/03/2007"

The escalating prices of petroleum based fertiliser in the international market have impacted the agricultural sector including the three main commercial crops of tea, rubber and coconut, President- the Coconut Growers Association (CGA) Nimal Samarakkody said.

He said that CGA having recognised the urgent need for an immediate solution, initiated a programme to popularize the use of organic fertilizer as a supplement to chemical fertiliser.
At present coconut growers have to pay Rs. 42,000 for a ton of urea or chemical fertiliser, which resulted in many growers refraining from applying fertiliser for their plantation.

This would directly impact the total coconut output which is around three billion nuts an year on average, he said. Unlike in the case of tea and rubber, coconut lands have sufficient interspaces that will allow intensive cultivation of leguminous plants to provide bulk of the required organic matter.

Further, since the coconut triangle is in close proximity to urban areas an opportunity exists to use organic urban waste if they are composted.

Although some steps have been taken by a few local bodies this has to be pursued with greater vigour at national level that will result in not only providing the organic fertiliser requirement but will further eliminate the existing health and environment issues affecting the nation.

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USAID rehabilitates 39 tsunami damaged schools: USAID rehabilitates 39 tsunami damaged schools

The Island: 16/03/2007"

The tsunami had a particularly devastating effect on residents of Hambantota District.
In addition to loss of life, countless buildings, including the district schools, were damaged. Schools were further damaged later after temporarily housing displaced people.

USAID has renovated 18 and re-equipped 21 of these schools in Hambantota District, 10 of which were inaugurated on March 9. Renovations included a new library at Al Akbar School, permanent teacher’s quarters at Bundala School, and a new roof for the science lab at St. Mary’s College where, nearly 80 students and the principal lost their lives.

The projects, supported by the USAID Transition Initiatives Program, brought together zonal educational officials, teachers, parents and students from the ethnically diverse communities to collaborate and jointly identify priorities and work together.

"One of he great joys in life is shared labor," said John Rigby, a special advisor from Washington D.C. for the Transition Initiatives program, who dedicated the facilities at the Al Akbar, Bundala and St. Mary’s College schools. "This project has brought diverse people together to improve the quality of their education, which is important for all, regardless of ethnic backgrounds."
Among the major renovations was the restoration of the science lab at St. Mary’s a longtime fixture in the heart of Hambantota that serves 1,500 Sinhalese, Tamil ,and Muslim students. The buildings at Al Akbar were renovated and its damaged library restored. The staff quarters at Bundala were reconstructed to help ensure that skilled, qualified teachers remain at the school. Bundala also benefited from the USAID-supported renovation of nearby Kirinda Harbor, which restored access to the sea for the fishing community.

"We are grateful to USAID for this work," said Y. K. Piyasena, the Zonal Director of Education for the district. "Many agencies would fix the school and leave. This project involves and unites the community, and expands their cooperative activities. It’s not just about a building — it creates something that endures."

At the dedication ceremony, Mr. Rigby quoted an old adage that only a well planted tree can resist the wind. "A well planted tree has strong roots," he said. "The children are the roots of these communities. Their living and learning together in harmony is their hope for the future."

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Celltel completes Rs 180 million tsunami relief programme

Daily News: 13/03/2007"

Relief programme: Celltel Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd. has invested Rs.180 million to rehabilitate the Gramodaya Health Centres along the tsunami affected western, southern and eastern coastal belt.

"We believe that rehabilitation is one important and necessary area of the social structure," said CEO Celltel, Dumindra Ratnayaka.

In these circumstances, after discussions with the Ministry of Health, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in March 2005 between the Government of Sri Lanka to rebuild and develop these centers.

The first Gramodaya Health Centre, for which construction commenced last year was completed and opened on 14th January 2006. The balance were built and completed, thus bringing the total now in operation to 32. Twelve of these Health Centres are in the Eastern province. These clinics are provided with furniture, fittings and hospital equipment.

Last August the company undertook to build the final Gramodaya Health Centre under this programme in Thambuluvil, which is about 20 kms north of Pottuvil. This is an area that was very badly affected by the tsunami and much in need of a strong health infrastructure.
"With the construction of this Health Centre at Thambuluvil, Celltel Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd covered the entire tsunami affected coastline, extending from Panadura to the North of Batticaloa".
When fully completed and functional there is no doubt this project will bring much joy and satisfaction to all those who participated in making it a reality. Gramodaya Health Centres are a boon and indeed bring much relief to those folk who live in difficult conditions in extreme rural areas, and also to those in the tsunami affected areas of this country.

Exactly two years after signing the agreement with the ministry of healthcare and nutrition Celltel Lanka (pvt.) ltd completed and handed over 32 Gramodaya health Centres to the people in the tsunami affected areas whereas most others are still struggling to serve, genuinely or not.
The company has in the true sense of the word, made this gesture to alleviate the suffering of the people in these areas by improving and developing a vital requirement for human survival - the health infrastructure." Dumindra Ratnayaka - CEO, Tigo.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

SLT in Internet push

Daily Mirror: 2/03/2007" SLT launches volume based broadband Internet package

Sri Lanka’s premier communication service provider, Sri Lanka Telecom announced the latest addition to its growing portfolio of high-speed Internet solutions with the Entrée package on ADSL technology. It provides the latest technology for broadband Internet access and comprises a downloading capability of 512Kbps and an uploading capability of 128Kbps as well as a volume of 1 GB free every month. The monthly rental is priced at an affordable Rs1000/= with one time joining fee of Rs500/= and Rs250/= being charged for an additional 250MB.
The key feature of the new ADSL entrée package is its volume-based service for Internet usage. SLT’s island wide Broadband network enables high-speed Internet access to the suburbs and rural areas of Sri Lanka. Existing ADSL customers have the option to migrate from the package they are currently using to the new entrée package. Also new services such as ADSL 2+, IP TV, Video on Demand (VoD) and security services are also in SLT’s product pipeline in the very near future.

SLT invested in the development of broadband infrastructure with a view of making Sri Lanka a broadband island, as well as in recognition that it is an important vehicle in achieving the government’s vision of e-Sri Lanka and e-Society. SLT’s ongoing 100000 ADSL expansion project also allows SLT to offer triple play services such as broadband voice based services, which includes VoIP, IPTV, Video on Demand (VoD), e-Learning, security services and gaming, with local content providing cutting-edge services. Globally 500% growth of broadband, which is a vital utility for both business and residence entities, is recorded and SLT ADSL shows the same trend in Sri Lanka, growing to over 100% per annum during the past three years.
Commenting on new broadband package, SLT’s Chief Corporate Officer, Mrs. Pat Abayasekara stated: “Today SLT offers ADSL to major cities. Currently we are involved with making ADSL available in other regions of the country. It is important to increase the IT literacy in rural Sri Lanka with sufficient applications on Internet focusing on them in order to make broadband viable for expanding in to regions. We are grateful of TRCSL's speedy approval, granting us the opportunity to launch this customer friendly package in a short period of time. This is happening today with all the ICT initiatives with the Government support and we will see promising technology transfer in to rural Sri Lanka soon.”

SLT ADSL allows the computer user at home or office to access the Internet at a faster speed, downloading information faster than it uploads, which is more useful when browsing the Internet. Using standard copper wires a telephone uses, it takes the user off the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), connecting onto the Internet or any other connected data network online. Providing real time connectivity, it is more reliable than analog and ISDN access, allowing the user to serve information and e-mail services directly.

Today, the ADSL technology has evolved in to new enhanced versions like ADSL2 with a maximum speed of 15 Mbit/s and ADSL2+ with a maximum speed of 24 Mbit/s. In terms of broadband service, ADSL supports a downstream bandwidth of up to 8 Mbit/s and upstream bandwidth of up to 800 Kbit/s. Such broadband Internet service is what today’s business require to achieve measurable productivity gains in e-business.

Significant among its features is that it not only preserves regular phone service without installing new copper wires for Internet access, but also enables the use of the same line to make or receive phone calls simultaneously, without interference. Splitters on either side will split the telephone voice carried on the same twisted pair line. It also enables the existing copper based wire line network used for the telephone to provide high-speed Internet access and other voice, with video services based on DSL technology.

Sri Lanka Telecom (www.slt.lk) is one of the country's most valuable blue chip companies with an annual turnover in excess of Rs37 billion. The SLT Group has a customer base of over two million including multinational corporations, large and small corporate, retail and domestic customers. Today with NTT Communications of Japan as a strategic partner, SLT provides facilities and services: voice, data, video and mobile to its customers, which are unmatched in scope. These services range from domestic and international voice, advanced data transmission services which include internet services on leased lines, broadband [on ADSL] and dial up, data circuits, frame relay solutions to IP services such as IP-VPN based on IP-MPLS technology, total corporate solutions of multiple services, satellite uplink services and mobile telephony through the fully owned subsidiary Mobitel.

SLT is in the process of introducing the necessary infrastructure in the form of NGN [Next Generation Networks] using optical fibre backbone and broadband services such as IMS, IPTV etc. SLT also provides high speed global connectivity to countries in the South Asian region through its investments in international submarine cables such as SMW3, SMW4 and the Bharat Lanka submarine cable [between India and Sri Lanka] and Dhirragu-SLT submarine cable system between Maldive Islands and Sri Lanka. Newly incorporated SLT Hong Kong Ltd, a fully owned subsidiary of Sri Lanka Telecom is fully geared to provide services such as IP transit, IPVPN, IPLC and International voice traffic transit services to global telecom operators and corporates in Hong Kong.

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