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Relief material sent for Tamil refugees in Lanka

[Express Buzz, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 07:02 No Comment]

Over 800 tonnes of relief materials, lying at Colombo harbour since July 9, will be cleared in a few days with customs procedures initiated from Tuesday. The materials are for the 280,000 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in various camps.

Suren Peiris of the Sri Lankan Red Cross (SLRC) told Express here on Monday, that the Indian Red Cross (IRC), which had dispatched the cargo on behalf of Mercy Mission of the UK, had paid the Chennai-Colombo freight charge and the shipping company had agreed to hand over the cargo to the SLRC even without a Bill of Lading from the IRC.

“Today we agreed to begin the customs procedures. They will start the process tomorrow,” Peries said. The Lankan government has powers to exempt goods from import duties and to restore sezied goods. Similarly, the collector of customs has the discretion to waive rent and other dues on goods not removed within the specified period. The Sri Lankan government waived the customs duties and other taxes. The use of discretionary powers has helped in the cargo being cleared in the next few days.

For the last three weeks, SLRC had been appealing to the IRC to send the relevant documents and payments, and urging the Indian High Commission to step in and help release the goods.

Lankan forces lost 25,000 personnel: The Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said here on Sunday, that the country’s Security Forces had lost over 25,000 personnel in the fight against Tamil militants in three decades.

“Over 25,000 brave men had laid down their lives during the past three decades, while 5,000 were permanently disabled,” Rajapaksa told a gathering at the Nalanda College here.

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