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Ambassador Teplitz announces first grants through US Clean Cities, Blue Ocean Programme

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U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz and Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe at the ceremony to announce the first grants awarded through the U.S. government’s Clean Cities, Blue Ocean programme

U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz announced the first grants awarded through the U.S. government’s Clean Cities, Blue Ocean program on Thursday totaling $345,000. These grants to Sri Lankan organisations will fund projects that help protect Sri Lanka’s cities and marine resources from plastic pollution.

 Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe joined Ambassador Teplitz at the event, the US Embassy in Colombo said.

“National and local coordination, enduring partnerships, community engagement, and localized solutions are key to reversing the impact of pollution and environmental degradation,” said Ambassador Teplitz.

She said: “The Clean Cities, Blue Ocean programme incorporates the principles and will help Sri Lankans build sustainable solutions to protect the precious ocean that surrounds us.”

In line with Sri Lankan government and grassroots efforts, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Clean Cities, Blue Ocean programme will fund pilot projects to minimize the flow of plastic pollution to the ocean. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Public Interest Law Foundation received funding to develop, test, and implement new models to enhance solid waste management and promote reducing, reusing, and recycling practices.

Grantees will also build awareness of the negative impact of plastic pollution on the ocean. 

Working in Colombo, Galle, and Jaffna districts, grantees will collaborate with local and national government entities to manage solid waste more effectively. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce will pilot a public-private partnership approach that encourages manufacturers to take responsibility for the environmental impacts of the production and disposal of their plastic products. The Public Interest Law Foundation will help to create guidelines for the disposal of non-hazardous plastic waste from hospitals, draft proposals to strengthen local solid waste management, and advance reforms that support recycling and disposal of plastic waste.

The Clean Cities, Blue Ocean programme will provide technical assistance and conduct site-level research to understand specific challenges in solid waste management and enforcement and barriers to private sector investment. 

The Clean Cities, Blue Ocean programme is the U.S. government’s flagship program to respond to the global crisis of ocean plastics pollution. This is one component of the longstanding partnership between the American and Sri Lankan people to support self-reliance and promote economic growth. USAID’s programme in Sri Lanka, totaling more than 350 billion LKR ($2 billion) since 1961, promotes a healthy, educated, and employed population.

 

 



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Crisis over fuel price hike: SLPP constituents crank up pressure on party General Secretary

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Eight lawmakers representing political parties affiliated to the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) have urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to take action against SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, for challenging the government decision to increase fuel prices.

The group consists of National List MP Ven. Athureliye Rathana (Our Power of People Party), Wimal Weerawansa (National Freedom Front), Vasudeva Nanayakkara (Democratic Left Front), Prof. Tissa Vitharana (LSSP), A.L.M. Athaulla (National Congress), G. Weerasinghe (Communist Party), Tiran Alles (United People’s Party) and Asanka Nawaratne (Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya) in a joint letter, dated June 14, have appealed for the immediate intervention of the President and the Premier in this regard.

Prof. Tissa Vitharana and Alles are among 17 appointed to Parliament on the SLPP National List.

They warned that failure to take tangible measures against such actions would result in the deterioration of public confidence in the government. The SLPP parliamentary group comprises 145 MPs.

The group of lawmakers was responding to SLPP National List MP Kariyawasam’s controversial call for the immediate resignation of Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila over the sharp increase of fuel prices at midnight on June 11.

They issued the statement consequent to a hasty  meeting called at Minister Weerawansa’s official residence on Sunday.

Noting that the Presidential Secretariat, too, on Sunday confirmed that the decision to increase fuel prices had been taken on June 09 at a meeting chaired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and attended by Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, the group of MPs accused the SLPP General Secretary of causing a wholly unnecessary problem. The group alleged that MP Kariyawasam’s actions had caused suspicion among the electorate whether a clique was in operation in the SLPP.

Minister Gammanpila, embroiled in simmering controversy has refrained from signing the petition though he called another press conference today (15) to explain the developments.

 The group said that in view of the financial crisis that had been caused by the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic the government was forced to increase fuel prices in spite of it being an unpopular measure.

Political sources pointed out that in February this year MP Sagara Kariyawasam caused a media furore when he asked Minister Weerawansa to apologise for suggesting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should be accommodated in the SLPP decision-making body. The group that has thrown its weight  behind Minister Gammanpila also clashed with a section of the SLPP lawmakers over the government bid to allow Indian investment at the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo port.

MP Kariyawasam did not answer his mobile phone.

In addition to MP Kariyawasam, MP Jagath Kumara (Colombo District) too strongly condemned the fuel price hike.

The SLPP MPs demanding action against Kariyawasam assured that they would soon submit a comprehensive proposal to President Rajapaksa to provide support to low income groups.

The Presidential Secretariat said that the price increase was necessitated by the financial crisis caused by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) being heavily indebted  to the Bank of Ceylon  and the People’s Bank to the tune of Rs 737 bn. Of that sum, CPC owed Rs 652 bn, the biggest single amount in any of the state sector enterprises.

The Samagi Jana Balavegagaya MP Mujibur Rahman said that Minister Gammanpila owed an explanation why he made the announcement as regards the fuel price hike as the matter came under the purview of the Finance Ministry.  Rahman pointed out that Minister Gammanpila himself subsequently admitted that only the Finance Ministry could decide on this matter. The former UNP MP said that the government’s much touted claim that the decision to increase fuel prices had been finalized on June 09 at the Cost of Living Committee was nothing but a joke. “We thought the Cost of Living Committee was meant to provide relief to the people not to increase their burden,” MP Rahman said.

The SJB spokesperson ridiculed the statement issued by a group of eight MPs. He alleged that the SLPP was staging a drama to divert the attention of the public. Their parliamentary group should take up responsibility for the current crisis having promised to transform the country overnight. Those who had voted for the 20th Amendment in October last year as well as the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill last month were engaged in a futile campaign to save the government, the SJB MP said.

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Basil R wouldn’t have allowed fuel price increase – MP

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Gampaha District SLPP MP Nimal Lanza yesterday said that if Basil Rajapaksa had been in the country, he wouldn’t have allowed the fuel price increase. He said that he strongly opposed the decision as it seriously affected the people, particularly the fishing community.

 

 

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1198 lockdown violators arrested

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By Norman Palihawadane

The Police had arrested 1,198 people countrywide for violating lockdown regulations in the 24 hours that ended yesterday morning, police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said.

A total of 32,593 persons had been arrested on the relevant charges since Oct 30, last year,  he said.

DIG Rohana said that special police teams had been deployed to continue the operations today as well to nab lockdown violators.

During the same period 3,051 persons travelling in 1,757 vehicles were inspected at 14 entry and exit points in the Western Province. Of them, 160 persons travelling in 100 vehicles were sent back for attempting to cross provincial borders for non-essential purposes, violating travel restrictions.

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