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Bodies of recovered fishermen poachers handed over to Indian coastguard

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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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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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