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Big boost for ‘1990 Suwaseriya ambulance service’

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Prez, Sudarshini receive SJB MP’s appreciation

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Dr. Harsha de Silva has praised Epidemics and Covid Disease Control State Minister Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle for proposing to strengthen the ‘1990 Suwasariya ambulance service’, gifted by India, during Ranil Wickremesinghe tenure as the Prime Minister.

Dr. de Silva, who spearheaded the Suwaseriya project, said that Dr. Fernandopulle couldn’t have made her move at a better time as the country battled the increased threat posed by the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

The former UNP non-Cabinet Minister appreciated President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for high level support the incumbent government extended to the Suwaseriya project.

The Colombo District lawmaker was responding to an announcement made by Dr. Fernandopulle’s Ministry as regards President Gotabaya Rajapaksa approving her proposal to procure an additional 112 ambulances to strengthen the service.

Declaring that decisions should be taken for the betterment of the country, regardless of political differences, MP de Silva said. The lawmaker, blamed the pathetic situation today on those who gained power and allegedly did away with projects launched by the previous administration, regardless of the consequences. The changing of policies, following national level elections, was the bane of the country, the top SJB spokesperson said.

Recalling fierce attacks on the Suwaseriya project, MP de Silva said that the then Joint Opposition slammed the Indian gift as it was launched. Some alleged that the Suwaseriya ambulance service even posed a security threat and people with vested interests could operate in any part of the country, MP de Silva said.

Some alleged that Suwaseriya would suffer a natural death once the ambulances supplied by India became unusable. However, Suwaseriya would shortly receive a big boost with the acquisition of 112 new ambulances.

The SJB MP also appreciated the role played by the then Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe and Indian leader Narendra Modi for making such a valuable donation.

Dr. de Silva emphasized the pivotal importance in the government and the Opposition reaching consensus on vital matters or, in other words, pursuing a national agenda instead of politics of destruction.

Epidemics and Covid Disease Control State Minister Dr. Fernandopulle also holds the primary healthcare portfolio.

The State Minister’s Media Secretary Thusitha Jayewardena said that the Ministry submitted two proposals, including the one on  Suwaseriya expansion for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s approval. The Ministry also asked for Rs 5,727.36 mn for the payment of ‘Senior Citizens Allowances’ to 238,640 persons awaiting inclusion into the beneficiary list maintained by the National Secretariat for Elders.

The ‘1990 Suwaseriya ambulance service’ and the National Secretariat for Elders come under the purview of Dr. Fernandopulle.

Against the sharp surge in Covid-19 cases, the ‘1990 Suwasariya ambulance service’ received as many as 5,300 calls a day and moved about 1,000 persons on a daily basis, the Media Secretary said.

The ‘1990 Suwasariya ambulance service’ comprises 1,393 workers and 297 ambulances, deployed in all parts of the country.

The Media Secretary said that the Suwaseriya established during the previous administration with USD 22 mn Indian grant today provided services free of charge, courtesy the government of Sri Lanka.

The Ministry would soon submit the proposal to acquire 112 new ambulances to the Cabinet of ministers.

The acquisition of new ambulances would facilitate and augment the services provided in the provinces, the aide said.

Lawmaker de Silva said that he was overwhelmed by the success achieved by the Suwaseriya project, launched by him, in spite of heavy opposition as well as personal attacks. “The project couldn’t have become what it is today if not for the support extended by Suwaseriya Chairman Duminda Ratnayake, Ms. Sandya Salgado, Director and CEO Sohan de Silva”. Responding to another query, MP de Silva insisted that they weren’t paid or provided facilities as all of them worked on a 100 per cent voluntary basis.

MP de Silva said that he was able to allocate money required to establish sub stations in support of the Suwaseriya project during the previous administration. The former non-Cabinet Minister said that a project to set up the first sub-station was launched during the previous administration. The work was brought to a successful conclusion during the ongoing pandemic.

The Indian grant greatly strengthened Sri Lanka’s capacity to meet an emergency, Dr de Silva said, recalling the deployment of Suwaseriya ambulances in the immediate aftermath of the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks



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At least 17 killed after explosion in Peshawar mosque

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(picture from twitter)

BBC reported that at least 17 people have been killed in an explosion at a mosque in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

The blast happened when the mosque was packed with worshippers and more than 90 people were injured.

A section of the building was destroyed, and officials say people are buried under the rubble. Several others are being taken to local hospitals.

The cause of the explosion is unclear.

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More heavy rain ahead for New Zealand’s largest city

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Auckland experienced an unprecedented amount of rainfall on Friday (picture BBC)

BBC reported that residents in flood-hit northern New Zealand are bracing for more heavy rains as officials issued severe weather alerts.

At least four people have died and a state of emergency was declared in Auckland, which on Friday experienced its worst downpour on record.

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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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