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Prelates launch legal battle against New Fortress

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by A. J. A. Abeynayake

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera yesterday filed a fundamental rights petition before the Supreme Court against the transfer of shares of the Yugadanavi LNG Power Plant in Kerawalapitiya to a US energy firm.

The petition seeks an order preventing the US firm New Fortress Inc. from obtaining the LNG supply contract.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, other members of the Cabinet, West Coast Power Limited, the owner of the 310 MW Yugadanavi Power Plant, the US-based company New Fortress Energy and the Attorney General are among the 54 respondents named in the FR petition.

The petition requests the court to issue an order to nullify the Cabinet decision on transferring state-owned shares of the Yugadanavi power plant to the US company.

The petition states that the decision taken by the Cabinet of Ministers to transfer 40% stake in the company owning the Yugadanavi Power Plant to the US firm in question was not justified. It also says the Cabinet failed to focus on issues such as the national economy and national security before taking the relevant decisions.

The petitioners have requested the Court to declare that their fundamental rights as well as the rights of the entire citizenry and their future generations guaranteed to them under Article 12(1) of the Constitution have been infringed and/or are continuing to be infringed and/or are in imminent danger of being infringed by the actions of the Respondents with regard to the Yugadanavi deal.

They have requested the Court to quash the decision of the Cabinet authorising the procurement of LNG from the 53rd respondent – the New Fortress Energy.

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Integrated solid waste management initiative coupled with tree plantation launched at Hambantota Port

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The ceremony to mark the programme was held at the port premises under strict health and safety protocols, with a limited number of staff attending.

 Hambantota International Port launched its first integrated solid waste management initiative on Monday 11th on the Company Day of China Merchants Group (CMG), the parent company of CM Port. The initiative is a strategic approach to sustainably manage biodegradable solid waste. The process covers the source, generation, segregation, transfer, sorting, treatment, recovery and disposal of waste in an integrated manner.

 “The idea is to collect all biodegradable material including garbage from vessels calling at the port that can be converted into compost, and process it.  The processed product will be used as manure for trees that will be planted within the Port and Industrial zone,” says Jeevan M. Premasara, Senior General Manager HR & Admin at HIP.

Members of staff at Hambantota Port planting trees.

The launch of the sustainability drive under the theme ‘Healing the Environment’ coinciding with CMG’s company day, was done under the leadership of CEO Johnson Liu. The program also includes the planting of 500 trees of different varieties, recommended by the Hambantota dry zone Botanical gardens. Twenty-five trees were planted as part of phase 1 of the project, and the port plans to grow and nurture endemic trees that will enrich the biodiversity of the industrial zone and port premises.

“As we launch the first phase of this tree planting and waste management/recycling projects, we will take into consideration planting different types of endemic plants that will thrive in the sandy soil of the Hambantota area in the next phases of the project.  Apart from that, we understand the importance of proper waste management systems and hope to partner with the district’s main waste recycling projects in the future.  As we expand into various industries in the zone, we hope to make our surroundings greener and environmentally friendly, bringing us closer to our goal of becoming an entirely green port,” added the Senior General Manager HR & Admin.

 HIP’s global partner CMPort’s parent company, CMG’s company day commemorated 149 years of sustainable operations this year.  CMG, which is involved in numerous projects to protect and sustain the environment, spreads its sustainability mission across all its members, partners and associate organisations. The ‘Healing the Environment’ project undertaken by HIP is an extension of their international partner’s sustainability drive.

 The ceremony to mark the programme was held at the port premises under strict health and safety protocols, with a limited number of staff attending.

Members of staff at Hambantota Port planting trees.

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Financial crisis so acute teachers’ demands cannot be met – SLPP Chairman

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300,000 entering schools for first time this year among those victimised

By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP Chairman and Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday (18) emphasised that the worsening financial crisis experienced by the country was so acute the government wasn’t in a position to grant the salary increase sought by school principals and teachers.

Prof. Peiris, who served as the Education Minister till August this year said that the public realised the government lacked the wherewithal to meet the striking teachers’ demands. The academic said so at the weekly SLPP media briefing at the party office in Battaramulla.

Responding to media queries, Prof. Peiris stressed that the government expected the striking teachers to facilitate re-opening of schools on a staggered basis beginning Oct 21 (Thursday). The Minister indicated that striking unions shouldn’t expect to settle the salary issue on their terms as the government lacked the means even if it wanted to do so.

Referring to the rapid deterioration of public finances in the wake of Covid-19 eruption in early 2020, Prof. Peiris said that Budget 2022 was presented amidst an extremely difficult time.

The top SLPP spokesperson reiterated the government’s commitment to grant strikers’ demand in two stages as announced by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at a meeting with striking unions at Temple Trees. Premier Rajapaksa on Oct 12 told a delegation of striking unions that the government would pay one third of the increase through the Budget 2022 and the remaining two in the following year’s budget.

The Premier’s Office quoted him as having told the delegates that the sharp drop in government income deprived the administration of an opportunity to grant the increase. Striking unions want the government to settle the issues immediately in one go.

Prof. Peiris appealed to those who have been on strike for 100 days to resume teaching. The student community really suffered due to the Covid 19 eruption and further delay in resuming studies would be catastrophic, Prof. Peiris said, underscoring the importance of restoring normalcy as about 300,000 would go to schools for the first time in their life.

Prof. Peiris said that schools that conduct classes from Grade 1 to 5 and those with less than 200 students would be re-opened on Oct 21. According to the minister, approximately 3,800 schools would be re-opened as scheduled.

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