coke unit shut: The Maoist labour union in Nepal has shutdown the country's only Coca-Cola bottling company, Bottlers Nepal, due to an ongoing dispute regarding employment of contract workers. The unit's two bottling plants in Kathmandu and Bharatpur in Chitwan district were forcibly closed to force the management into re-hiring contract workers. Media reports claim that the removal of 55 workers, hired on a contract basis, had led to this impasse between the trade union and the management. Providing permanent jobs to seasonal or contractual workers is a contentious issue in the country. Recently, the rival Pepsi bottling unit too faced a similar situation.
pak dam by year-end: The height of the controversial Mangla dam, built across the Jhelum river near Haripur, will be raised by December 2007, said Pakistan officials recently. Tahir Iqbal, the minister for Kashmir affairs and northern areas, says that this will submerge 800 houses in Mirpur in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Residents of the city have been opposing raising the dam height, which will cost around US $1 billion, fearing loss of lands and forced displacement. Officials claim some anti-state elements were creating hurdles in the way of the project. "The residents affected by the raising of the Mangla reservoir will be rehabilitated in new Mirpur city,' said Iqbal. The government has said it will build 8,080 houses at a cost of about half a million (US).
No more two-strokes: The Sri Lankan ministry of environment has sought cabinet approval to stop the import of trishaws, a two-stroke engine-driven rickshaw, due to the air pollution caused by the vehicle. Besides this, the vehicle also causes noise pollution. The proposal has drawn flack from thousands of trishaw drivers who make their living through these vehicles. Meanwhile, following the cabinet move, the major trishaw importer David Pieris Motor Company Ltd has promptly introduced four-stroke three wheelers at a price that is only a few thousands rupees above the two-stroke vehicle.