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Baglay suggests how to utilize USD 15 mn grant

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Promotion of Buddhist ties

Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay has suggested that USD 15 mn grant made available recently for the promotion of Buddhist ties between India and Sri Lanka could be utilised for construction/renovation of Buddhist monasteries, capacity development, cultural exchanges, archaeological cooperation, reciprocal exposition of The Buddha’s relics, strengthening engagement of Buddhist scholars and clergy.

The following is the text of the statement issued by the Indian High Commissioner following HC Baglay’s meeting with Most Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawansa Thera recently: “High Commissioner of India Gopal Baglay called on Agga Maha Pandita Most Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawansa Thera, Mahanayake of Amarapura Nikaya and sought his blessings for prosperity of people of India and Sri Lanka and strengthening friendly relationships between them. High Commissioner recalled his arrival in Sri Lanka in the Holy Week of Vesak and stated that he felt particularly fortunate to be seeking the blessings of Most Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawansa Thera on this Vap Poya Day,

“Most Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawansa Thera recalled his many trips to India and conveyed that his blessings were always with the people of Sri Lanka and India for their peace and prosperity.

“The Mahanayake conveyed his wished for enhanced people-to-people contact between the two countries and increased regional connectivity for the ease of Buddhist pilgrims to visit the various holy sites in the Indian subcontinent.

“High Commissioner Baglay noted that the Government of India had recently declared the Kushinagar Airport in India, the place of Lord Buddha’s Mahaparinibbana, as an international airport, to allow Buddhist pilgrims from around the world to visit the revered site associated with Lord Buddha with ease. He also mentioned that given the pre-eminence of India Sri Lanka Buddhist ties, both countries agreed that the first inaugural flight to this airport will be from Sri Lanka.

“High Commissioner also discussed the implementation of the USD 15 million grant from India for promotion of Buddhist ties between India and Sri Lanka. The Grant was announced by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during the Virtual Bilateral Summit held between India and Sri Lanka on 26 September, 2020. High Commissioner noted that this is a first of its kind grant announcement by India and stated that the grant may be utilised for construction/renovation of Buddhist monasteries, capacity development, cultural exchanges, archaeological cooperation, reciprocal exposition of The Buddha’s relics, strengthening engagement of Buddhist scholars and clergy

High Commissioner also noted that Buddhism is one of the strongest pillars connecting the two nations and civilizations from the time when the Great Indian Emperor Ashoka sent his children Arhat Mahinda and Theri Sangamitta to spread the teachings of Lord Buddha at the request of King Devanampiya Tissa of Sri Lanka.”



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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