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Airman Roshan appointed brand ambassador to fight plastic pollution



By Ifham Nizam

Leading Aircraftman Roshan Abeysundera, who recently set a record by swimming across the Palk Strait, has been appointed an environmental brand ambassador in recognition of his outstanding contribution.

The SLAF officer received a commemorative gift and the letter of appointment as the brand ambassador from Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.

Abeysundera, speaking at the event, said that he would like to express his gratitude to the Ministry of Environment for organising such a reception in appreciation of the world record he had set.

“I set a world record after a long training session. When I was training in the Southern Seas as well as the seas around Mannar, I saw things like polythene and plastic bags floating in the ocean. Sometimes, plastic bottles and shopping bags hit my face while I was swimming.”

Abeysundera said he was saddened to see plastic and polythene being carried towards our country by the waves.

“That’s why I asked everyone to work to make our ocean a place free of polythene and plastic. I will continue to contribute to the endeavor,” he added

Amaraweera said he would request President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to allow Abeysundera to participate in environmental programmes. “I also requested the Defence Secretary to pay attention to this matter,” he added.

Speaking at the ceremony, Amaraweera said that Abeysundera’s request that no plastic and polythene be dumped into the ocean should be heeded by the entire world.

“The World Earth Day falls on April 22. The main theme of this year’s World Earth Day is ‘Restore our Earth’, Amaraweera said.

Abeysundera is expected to participate in the launch of programmes on the occasion of World Earth Day.

Abeysundera set a new record by swimming across the Palk Strait. Earlier that record was set by Sri Lankan swimming champion Kumar Anandan.

The Minister also said that he had issued a gazette notification banning several types of polythene and plastic products used here. That law had come into effect on 31 March, he said.

Reports indicated that the production of sachets had come to a halt, the Minister said.

Companies had confirmed that the sachets currently in the market would sell out in another three or four months. “By the end of 2021, the sale of sachets in Sri Lanka will come to a complete halt. I have informed the Central Environmental Authority to strictly enforce that law.”

Air Commodore Senaka Fernandopulle and Additional Secretaries to the Ministry were also present on the occasion.

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AG says no legal impediment to Bathiudeen attending Parliament



Public Security Minister: Those detained under PTA shouldn’t be allowed in

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, says there is no legal impediment to Opposition MP Rishad Bathiudeen attending Parliament while being detained in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

The CID arrested the leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) in the early hours of April 24 for aiding and abetting the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombers.

Multiple blasts in different locations killed 270 people and wounded about 500.

The AG set the record straight in the wake of the CID failing to arrange for MP Bathiudeen to attend Parliament on May 4 and 5.

The Island learns that Police Headquarters recently consulted the AG as regards the legality of the Vanni District SJB MP attending parliamentary sessions and the SJB, on his behalf, requested the Speaker to facilitate the arrangements.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. Its parliamentary group comprises four, including Bathiudeen.

The police sought the AG’s advice after having received a missive from Serjeant at arms Narendra Fernando in that regard. The AG has advised the police that MP Bathiudeen could attend parliamentary sessions.

However, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera has advised the police against the ACMC leader attending Parliament. The Minister has issued instructions in this regard having requested the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to prevent those detained under the PTA from attending parliament.

MP Bathiudeen has been detained for a period of 90 days pending investigations. His brother Riyajj too has been detained under PTA for 90 days.

 Minister Weerasekera, in Parliament yesterday (5) defended his decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament. Dismissing concerns raised by SJB MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran about the ACMC leader being deprived of his right to attend parliament sessions, Minister Weerasekera emphasized that he was responsible for public security.

Minister Weerasekera reminded Speaker Abeywardena that he had requested him not to allow anyone detained under PTA to attend parliament pending conclusion of investigations.

Weerasekera said that the CID wouldn’t have detained the MP concerned without valid reasons.

Perhaps, Field Marshal Fonseka had no concerns for public security, the former Navy Chief of Staff said, emphasising that the government wouldn’t conduct investigations the way the former Army Commander and the TNA spokesman desired.

Bathiudeen earlier served in the Cabinets of President Mahinda Rajapaksa (2010-2014) and President Maithripala Sirisena (2015-2019). The ACMC switched its allegiance to SJB at the 2020 August parliamentary election after having backed Sajith Premadasa’s candidature at the 2019 presidential.

Bathiudeens’ lawyer Rushdhie Habeeb told The Island that the decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament was political. Habeeb said that the issue at hand would be raised vigorously, both here and abroad, and a media briefing would be called soon to explain the situation.

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MONLAR draws attention to ticking COVID time bomb in plantations



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of estate workers had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and given the generally congested living environment and lack of health facilities on plantations, the entire estate sector was a ticking time bomb, Moderator of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) Chinthaka Rajapakshe said yesterday.

Rajapakshe told The Island  that the latest outbreak on the estates had occurred after the return of some persons from Colombo during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

“We had warned that this would happen. People kept on returning home although the preparedness of the plantation economy to face a COVID-19 outbreak was non-existent.”

 “If one person gets it, the entire line will get it, and therefore urgent steps should be taken to minimise COVID-19 spread,” Rajapakshe said, adding that such an eventuality would not only destroy lives but also cripple the plantation sector, causing an enormous loss to the state coffers.



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Clandestine dealings of fishers will precipitate spread of deadly Indian variant here – Expert



By Rathindra Kuruwita

There was a risk of the deadly Indian COVID-19 variant spreading to Sri Lanka as well, Chief Epidemiologist of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera told the media yesterday in Colombo.

Dr. Samaraweera said that Sri Lankan fishermen continued to interact with their Indian counterparts in mid-sea and therefore it was only a matter of time before the Indian variant entered Sri Lanka.

“We must be extremely vigilant. We have seen the devastation caused by this variant in India. These mid-sea interactions by the fishing community must be stopped.”

Dr. Samaraweera added that although the Dambulla Economic Centre

had been reopened for business yesterday morning, health officials had been compelled to close five shops as their owners violated the Covid-19 protocol.    

“This is a commercial hub where people from all parts of the country converge. So, if there are COVID-19 cases here, then it will spread across the country. Therefore, people have to act carefully and responsibly.”

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