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Bodies of recovered fishermen poachers handed over to Indian coastguard



Northern Provincial GDP declines 1.4% due to Indian poaching

Bodies of four fishermen aboard the Indian fishing trawler that sank when they were poaching on Sri Lankan territorial waters were handed over to the Indian Coast Guard at the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) around 10.00 a.m. on Saturday.

The Navy launched a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Indian poachers after their vessel sank in Sri Lankan waters on 18 January 2021 following a mid-sea collision with a Navy vessel. The SAR operation led to the recovery of four corpses. At the autopsy, it was revealed that three corpses were of Indian nationals and the remaining one was of a person with Sri Lankan origin, who lived in India.

Subsequent to the legal proceedings initiated by the Magistrate Court of Mallakam, the corpses were formally handed over to the Indian Consulate General Office in Jaffna. The Consulate requested the Navy to hand over the corpses to India. The bodies were transported by a Sri Lanka Coast Guard craft and handed over to the Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Atulya at the IMBL.

All these measures were carried out adhering to strict safety and health guidelines stipulated by health authorities due to COVID-19 concerns.

The Indian boat sank in Sri Lankan waters about eight nautical miles within the IMBL northwest of Delft Island last week. At the time of the incident over 50 Indian fishing trawlers were poaching in Sri Lankan waters. One of the vessels collided with a Navy ship while attempting to escape.

The Navy said: “The collision also caused damages to the SLN Fast Attack Craft, which was subsequently brought to Kankesanthurai harbour safely for repair work.”

Researcher Oscar Amarasinghe has identified that between 2006 to 2008 Sri Lanka has lost around US$ 41 million or LKR 5,293 million per annum due to Indians illegally fishing in Sri Lankan waters. The annual direct monetary loss to each member of the fishing households in the Northern Province is LKR 28,848. Furthermore, the annual direct monetary loss due to poaching (LKR 5,293 million) was equivalent to 1.4 percent of the Northern Provincial Gross Domestic Product in 2015, which was LKR 390,689 million.

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Lawyers request CJ to decide if political victimisation PCoI report amounts to contempt of court



by A. J. A. Abeynayake

Four lawyers yesterday complained to Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, requesting an investigation to determine whether the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, which probed political victimisation under the previous government, amount to contempt of court.

The four petitioners, Senaka Perera, Achala Seneviratne, Namal Rajapaksa and Thambiah Jeyaratnaraja have, in their complaint, stated they are of the view that the final recommendations of the Commission, which probed the period from January 8, 2015 to November 19, 2019, amounted to contempt of court and were inimical to the judicial system.

The lawyers have also requested that the Chief Justice pay attention to the recommendation by the commission that R. Duminda Silva be exonerated from all charges against him and the recommendation that Attorney General request that a full bench of the Supreme Court conduct a judicial review of the death sentence passed on Silva.

The lawyers pointed out that if an accused is not satisfied with a judgement delivered against him, he could request for a fuller bench to hear his case, but a third party cannot request a review of the verdict. The petitioners have also said that the Commission with its recommendations has caused an affront to the dignity of the court, its independence and the trust of the people.

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Amaraweera plans to ban certain types of plastic, polythene



Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera examining some eco-friendly products that can be used in place of polythene and plastic.  Picture shows some such products.

Been there, heard that – environmentalists

By Ifham Nizam

The Environment Ministry yesterday reiterated that steps would be taken to ban the use of several types of plastic and polythene in the country from the end of this month.

Contacted for comment, environmentalists said that they had heard similar pledges to ban those products by previous Environment Ministers, but there had been no bans.

Previous Environment Minister Maithripala Sirisena, who even promised to ban asbestos besides harmful types of plastic and polythene had done absolutely nothing, they said adding that “He as the President of the country failed to ship back even the toxic garbage containers dumped here by the UK”.

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera yesterday said the items to be banned would include disposable polythene and plastic, PET bottles (Poly Ethylene Terephthalate), lunch sheets thinner than 20 microns, sachets, excluding Food and Drug packaging, cotton buds, and inflatable plastic toys.

Amaraweera said that the focus of businesses on new alternatives to plastics and polythene was seen as a way to protect the environment.

The release of excessive amounts of plastics and polythene materials into the environment caused environmental degradation, the Minister said.

The Environment Ministry is having discussions with various stakeholders to introduce eco-friendly alternative products.

Amaraweera last week had a meeting with several private sector entrepreneurs.

Some industrialists also presented to the Minister some of the eco-friendly products they were using.

Plans are afoot to prepare a list of several plastic and polythene products, to be banned from March 31. About 350 products would be banned before the end of the current year, the Minister said.

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Fishing cats victims of mistaken identify 



Villagers kill them as they resemble leopard cubs

By Ifham Nizam

The killing of fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) is on the rise countrywide mainly because they resemble leopard cubs. They also end up as road kill.

The Sinhala term for fishing cats–– ‘Handun Diviya’––gives the jitters to many villagers who fear that the animals are leopards and a threat to them, according to researcher cum conservationist Chaminda Jayasekara.

Following the death of a farmer in a leopard attack recently, fishing cats are also being increasingly targeted and killed especially in some parts of the hill country.

“In some parts of Nawalapitiya, children fear to go out when word gets around that ‘Handun Diviyas’ were lurking in the vicinity,” Jayasekera said.

The killing of fishing cats happen primarily because some people assume that they could harm them as the animals are often misidentified as leopard cubs. This happens especially in the tea plantation areas due to the lack of knowledge of the species, Jayasekera stressed.

A large number of reptiles, small mammals and birds continue to perish on roads because when highways and other roads are built, only the safety of humans is taken into consideration, according to Jayasekera.

Naturalist cum author, Rajika Gamage yesterday told The Island that when highways were constructed here unlike in other parts of the world green highway concept was ignored. “There should be tunnels to give safe passage for small animals,” he said.

More than dozens of fishing cats were being killed recently in road accidents or in attacks by villagers, he too said.

A dead fishing cat had been found last week near the Log Hill tea estate belonging to the Mayfield estate in Kotagala, Hatton, Dimbula Police said.

Police believe the animal may have died in a road mishap.



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