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Agitation for right to bury

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So much has been said and continues to be vociferously propounded about the virtues of democracy, and the word “democracy” is being used and mis-used at will. It is also conveniently used as a cover when there is a lack of an impressive or convincing argument to defend a particular position or cause.

One of the basic tenets of democracy is that it stands for the “greater good of the greater, majority”. It works on the tripod of consultation, compromise and consensus; this principle was eloquently propounded by the late President Premadasa himself. The aforesaid attributes of democracy do not appear to have been imbibed by his son Sajith, as would be observed from his virulent campaign against the decision to cremate Covid victims. The decision to cremate was taken purely on scientific grounds and was not partisan. Prevention is surely better than cure! Nothing is certain and what is pronounced today can be wrong years ahead, while the damage done in the meantime cannot possibly be undone. Those responsible will be no more. We have the problem of kidney patients as a result of polluted/contaminated water.

Perhaps, Sajith P has taken a leaf from Shakespeare’s epic “Julius Caesar”, where Mark Antony took the stage to delve into the passions of the mob with insidious lingo. The government on its part, like Brutus, strains every sinew and nerve to try and convince in vain the Muslim community of its sole intention, to wit – not that it loves them less but that it loves the living and generations to come more! Not that they don’t understand, but the politically-backed agenda is different!

That the whole issue has been politicised is quite plain to see, and Human Rights groups whose silence was deafening when Gaddafi was killed, kept for five days refrigerated and dumped into the sea secretly, is now up to their usual game in Sri Lanka, as they did in Geneva over the LTTE episode! The ‘modus operandi’ could be the same as in the Easter Sunday failed attempt – this time with the active open support of bankrupt opposition groups which has to be defeated at all costs. Democracy needs to be saved from hysterics and blood-thirsty, power-hungry elements masquerading as democrats!

The Catholic/Christian Stance

There appears to be a sinister attempt to project the view that the Roman Catholic and recognised Protestant Churches are also irked by the decision. This is far from the truth. They are by no means fundamentalists. If the RC Church had held some antiquated ideas or stipulations, Vatican II had made it more progressive. The order of prayer accommodates burial or cremation (“ashes to ashes, dust to dust …”). We are yet to see any objections raised by these relevant authorities. They should not be made to appear as having boarded the band-wagon of hatred.

I.P.C. MENDIS



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Cabraal: Prez appoints members to Port City Economic Commission

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By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatta

The President of the country would always appoint members to the Colombo Port City Economic Commission, entrusted with running of that city under the proposed CPCEC Bill, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, yesterday, told the media, in Colombo.

State Minister Cabraal said that most critics of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill had not even read it.

“Sri Lankans don’t need to obtain a visa to enter the Port City as some claim. The Port City will be administered by the Colombo Port City Economic Commission and the Bill we have presented details how the area will be governed,” Cabraal said responding to a question posed by a journalist.

The State Minister said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had asked him to counter the misinformation and fake news that was being spread about the Bill. Once people have read and understood the Bill, most who criticise it would have to change their tune, the Minister said.

 

Journalists also questioned the State Minister on the allegations levelled by MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakse. The State Minister said that Rajapakse had not even asked a question about the Bill during the Parliamentary Group meetings.

“As I said earlier, the Port City will be administered by Colombo Port City Economic Commission. All members are appointed by the President. The Chairman of the Commission too is appointed by the President. The President can get rid of them anytime he wants,” Cabraal said.

The State Minister added that no one would be allowed to withdraw money or assets from Sri Lanka and invest in the Port City. “This is a special economic zone. We need to attract foreign direct investments. We need to have ease of doing business in this zone and we have to make it an important financial hub in the region.”

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Two hotels to be built obstructing elephant corridor in Sinharaja – MONLAR

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Forest land being cleared for the construction of a hotel

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Bowitiyatenna elephant corridor, used by elephants in Sinharaja to travel to Dellawa – Walankanda forest had been obstructed by two businessmen by clearing a section of the forest to build hotels, Sajeeewa Chamikara of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) said.

“One hotel is being constructed in the Dolekanda Grama Niladari area after clearing seven acres of forest land. The Kalawana Divisional Secretariat has approved the construction of the hotel ignoring environmental regulations. Right now, forests are being cleared, land is being prepared and buildings are being constructed using heavy equipment.”

Another hotel was being built at the Bowitiyatenna Elephant Corridor, situated in Godakawela Divisional Secretariat area by a businessman from Godakawela. He has cleared around eight acres of forest land, the environmentalist said.

The two hotels were obstructing the elephant corridors used by the remaining two elephants in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Now, the the people of Rambuka, Thanawela, Ellagama, Handiyekade, Kajugaswatte, Pothupitiya, Kopikella and Cypresswatte would have the elephans marauding their villages, the environmentalist said, adding that the residents of those villages would lose property and lives due to the hotels being constructed by obstructing the elephant corridors.

“Most of the forest areas surrounding the Sinharaja are to be annexed to the Forest Reserve because they are an important part of the forest network. These unscrupulous businessmen and politicians supporting them are attempting to carve out as much land as possible before these areas receive protected status. They are also doing their best to delay the declaration of these lands as protected areas.”

Chamikara said that the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) had the power to take action against those who carried out such illegal activities.

According to Section 23 (a.) (a.) of the National Environmental Act, when a project is carried out without environmental clearance, the CEA can produce such people before a magistrate’s court. If found guilty, a person can be fined up to Rs. 15,000 or imprisoned up to two years or subjected to both.

Chamikara said: “According to Article 27(14) of Chapter VI of the Sri Lankan constitution the state shall protect, preserve and improve the environment for the benefit of the community.” However, the CEA seems to have no interest in taking action against those who are building these hotels illegally. This is CEA’s attitude to almost all major environmental destruction that seems to be taking place these days.

“The government is silent when the Sinharaja forest is degraded and elephant corridors are closed by businessmen. The right to land seems to be a right reserved only for businessmen. We have the right to oppose these under article 28. (f) of the Constitution which states that we have a fundamental duty ‘to protect nature and conserve its riches.’ Article 28. (e) states that we also have a fundamental duty ‘to respect the rights and freedoms of others.’ Thus, we, the citizens have the right to oppose the illegal use of natural resources by powerful businessmen. If we do not oppose these moves as citizens, powerful businessmen will take over all our natural assets like they are doing at Sinharaja.”

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RDHS predicts Coronavirus spike in Jaffna over the weekend

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

There might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna this weekend, A.

Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday. Dr. Kethiswaran made the prediction after 26 new cases were detected in Jaffna.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported from Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be locked down, he said.

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