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Community supported elephant fence fence completed near Habarana



Villagers will maintain it

By Ifham Nizam

“For decades we didn’t have proper sleep, often with only one to two hours of continuous sleep each night for fear of elephants entering our homesteads and attacking us. Now thanks to this timely initiative we sleep well at night,” said senior citizen Subasinghe Dissanayake at the Launch of the Elephant – Human Conflict Mitigation Program at Bandi Wewa in Habarana recently. He said that villagers are happy to take on the maintenance work of the first fence erected.

 “They would take great care to maintain it properly as they can now at least sleep in peace. We will be happy if this program could be implemented countrywide,” Dissanayake said.The Bandi Wewa program would also ensure the safety of crops from wild elephants that are now kept away thanks to the fence, he said.

 Speaking on the occasion, former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said that Sri Lanka is now the world’s top human-elephant conflict victim. This is a 60-year problem that has worsened over the years. He praised the solution by way of installation of a community-based electric fence covering an area of 4.4 sq. kms. in the Bandi Wewa village near Ritigala as a model project in the Habarana area.

It is understood that the initiative for obtaining support for this project was taken by the former speaker.Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando – Chairman, Trustee and Scientist, Centre for Conservation and Research said that this electric fence is the most modern and strongest ever built here.

The program, which began in January 2022, is a joint project of the Conservation Research Institute, Cinnamon Hotel Group and TUI Foundation, with the coordination done by the Chairman of the National Movement for a Fair and Just Society, led by the former speaker. TUI is chaired by a former German minister who is very close to the Jayasuriya family. Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando and renowned Elephant Scientist, Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya, who have been researching this issue for over 30 years contributed resources to this project.

Jayasuriya said that if this model can be implemented throughout the country, it will be a great strength. He gained much mental satisfaction talking to the villagers benefiting from it. This is a unique tripartite effort between the TUI Foundation in Germany, under its TUI Wildlife Sri Lanka segment, the Center for Conservation and Research (CCR), (scientific advisors to the project), and Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts who have undertaken coordination and assistance to the TUI Foundation in Germany.

Under the expert guidance of Dr. Prithviraj Fernando, Chairman, Trustee and Scientist at the Centre for Conservation and Research and his team, the project was implemented at this selected village. It is an extension of Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts’ existing ‘Cinnamon Elephant Project’ which has been running for the past six years under the guidance of Dr. Prithviraj Fernando in the Minneriya – Kaudulla area.

 The project has already identified over 350 elephants and two matriarchs have been radio collared with the participation of the Department of Wildlife Conservation. Extensive data on herd movements has been thereby collected by Dr. Fernando and his team.According to Chitral Jayatilake, Vice President – Nature Trails Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, their total investment on the project is around Rs. 20 million.

 He added that this project strives to assist people of Bandi Wewa to protect their crops from wild elephants that frequent the area – often causing heavy damage to paddy and other crops. Village fences will also be erected to keep villagers safe in their homesteads as elephants often come in search of harvested crops and cause damage to houses.

Versatile paddy field fences are easy to erect and the farmers are taught how to make these by CCR and Cinnamon Nature Trails teams.The fences stay up until the harvest is taken and farmers can then remove them and re-erect them for the next cultivation season. Vimukthi Weeratunga – Wildlife Biologist Cinnamon Nature Trails also spoke on the occasion of the launch of the Bandi Wewa fence.

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Sabry denies China caused SL debt crisis



Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC, has dismissed assertions that China caused the current economic crisis here.The Minister made Sri Lanka’s position clear in an interview with WION’s diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal. Asked whether Minister Sabry believed that the current economic crisis is due to China, its policy of debt crisis, the Minister has said: No, I don’t agree with that, which is a western phrase. We don’t agree with that. The Chinese never came and forced us to take money. Actually, we have gone and sought funds and they have respected that and invested in our country. They are the biggest investor in our country, we don’t agree with that phrase. Having taken the money we have put them into proper use or who so ever we can get in return is the issue for Sri Lankans, therefore we don’t associate with that kind of phrase, actually Chinese have been good friends for us and they have been the biggest investor in the country post conflict.

Commenting on Sri Lanka’s ties with China, WION quoted Sabry as having said: “Our relationship with Beijing is very strong for a long period of time, they have been our close friend. This year we have celebrated 70 years of economic ties with them, beginning with the Rubber Rice pact, we exported rubber to them and imported rice. So ours is a strong relationship and basically it has been a commercial relationship, economic relationship where they have come and invested heavily in Sri Lanka during a difficult period of time for us and during the 26 years of the conflict, during the last few years, Chinese supported us with supply of arms to get rid of the threat from one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations, the LTTE and in order to bring back peace to our country. In that context we have had a very good relationship with them. Sri Lanka always follows the dynamic, neutral foreign policy where we would want everyone to be a friend of Sri Lanka and enemy to none. That is our foreign policy, that is our relationship, so given this dynamic, we would continue the same thing but taking India’s sensitivities and security concerns to heart because that is very important for us.”

WION: How has the talks been with the IMF and has India played a role in facilitating the talks? I believe this is the 17th bailout you are trying to secure.

Ali Sabry: I started the negotiations with them, and they have studied, and staff-level agreement has been reached, prior action before the EFF, extended fund facility, we have agreed on. We have agreed and implemented some of those things. The EEF facility is for 2.9 billion, and the moment the IMF gets involved, it infuses confidence in the system, ADB, World Bank all come on the table, and we probably will be able to return to the money market, so that is why it is so important. India, had actually provided us with a lifeline during the most crucial time of our history, in terms of economy and those credit lines kept us going for a long period of time. I remember, when I was in Washington, your Finance Minister Sitharaman led your group and supported us in our discussion with the IMF and they have continued to do so. So it is important and Indian support is very critical to us. India has played a great role in supporting the neighbour in the most difficult time of its history.

WION: Why didn’t China offer financial assistance, as India did, during the recent crisis?

Ali Sabry: The Chinese also supported us just before the particular period of time, they also provided us with some financial facilities and credit line, also they did provide us some soft arrangement to bolster our reserves at the central bank, apart from that some humanitarian assistance also. We hope China will step up in providing us with debt restructuring assurances, along with India so that we can go to the IMF and resolve the matter once and for all and get back to the recovery path. So, it’s important for all creditors and all investors that Sri Lanka recovers and recovers fast. The longer the debt gets suspended, the longer it takes to recover. It is bad for all the creditors and investors; everybody understands that, including China.

WION: Has China offered to restructure…

Ali Sabry: We are still in discussions for that, they have been cooperative and part of the common platform where we share information, recently in Washington. They also took part on the virtual platform. So China, India, Paris club, and Japan are all cooperating with us, so we are in the final stage of trying to get the debt restructuring and assurances. We are hopeful all countries and all our friends will not let us down.

WION: Have you asked for more Indian support.

Ali Sabry:Not really, right now our economy has stabilized to some extent and we should be able to manage ourselves. Right now, we have reached out to India and the rest of the world, it’s not for aid or any more loans but basically investments. We are working with Indians and Indian companies and the government to work together in various areas for mutual interests, so that investment comes into the country and it will be beneficial for both Indians and Sri Lankans.

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Electricity users threaten legal action if power tariffs hiked again unilaterally by Minister



CEB records Rs 6 billion profit in October

By Anuradha Hiripitiyage

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) recorded a profit of six billion rupees in October, Electricity Users Association (EUA) Secretary Sanjeewa Dhammika told the media yesterday.Dhammika said that if the CEB increased the price of electricity again, the EUA would take legal action.

“There are 6.5 million users of electricity and I urge the Minister of Power and Energy not to take them for granted. Minister Kanchana Wijesekera, on Thursday, told Parliament that they will increase the electricity tariff again,” he said.

The CEB made a profit of six billion rupees in October. Electricity was produced using water, coal, and renewable sources, he said.

“The average cost of electricity production was around five rupees. A unit of electricity was sold at around 32

rupees. The Minister says they are still making a loss. The Minister has no power to increase tariffs. The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) can only increase the tariff. The current Minister has said there is no need for a PUCSL. He wants to increase tariffs the way he wants, without oversight. We won’t allow that to happen. Apparently, he has asked the Cabinet to review tariffs, once in six months,” he said.

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Baglay reiterates India’s commitment in line with ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’



Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay on Thursday (24) reiterated their commitment to Sri Lanka’s capacity building endeavours in line with India’s ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’.

Baglay emphasized that training engagements between the Armed Forces have instilled a spirit of brotherhood and interoperability amongst the services and form the foundation of their abiding bonds. A large number of NDC India alumni in Sri Lanka have risen to the highest echelons of defence leadership, which testifies to the importance of nurturing these strong relations, according to a statement issued by the Indian High Commission here.

Baglay said so at an event to mark 50 years of association between National Defence College (NDC), India and Sri Lankan Armed Forces in Colombo. The special event celebrated the enduring bonds of cooperation, camaraderie and friendship between the militaries of India and Sri Lanka. Secretary of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff, Commanders of Sri Lanka Navy and Air Force along with other alumni and dignitaries from the Ministry of Defence and Sri Lanka Armed Forces graced the occasion.

Secretary of Defence, Gen (retd.) Kamal Gunaratne and High Commissioner Gopal Baglay jointly launched the webpage of the Alumni Association of NDC India in Sri Lanka at the event to facilitate closer and continued engagements between the two countries and the premier Indian defence institute. The webpage would be hosted on the website of High Commission of India ( and act as a medium for the alumni to stay connected with their alma mater and keep abreast with the latest on defence cooperation between the two maritime neighbours.

As part of India’s unwavering commitment to capacity building of Sri Lanka Armed Forces and focus on regional cooperation, NDC India has made valuable contributions towards enhancing regional peace, security and stability and such forums effectively enable fostering of cordial and warm relationships between the two countries.

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