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Conservation zones designated to protect river system:

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Squatters to be relocated

By Ifham Nizam

The Central Environmental Authority will take steps to remove those who are currently occupying river banks and prevent construction or cultivation on land within 150 metres from rivers.

Plans are underway to relocate people living along the river basins.

“If not, the entire river system, which is the basic life giver to our country, will be in danger of being destroyed in a few years due to the misuse of river water,” Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.

Ministry of Environment has decided to commence a programme to designate river protected zones immediately.

There are 103 rivers in Sri Lanka. The majority of them originate from the central highlands and the rest from other places. However, to date  no river conservation zones have been designated to protect the river system here.

Under the instructions of the Environment Ministry, CEA has collected more information on all river basins in the country, indicating that various individuals are engaged in illegal activities to destroy them.

Activities in this regard have been videotaped and the CEA officials had observed that there were more than 10,700 destructive places in rivers alone.

The CEA has been instructed  to pay close attention to the degradation of the environment.

The Minister has called for the establishment of conservation zones for all rivers in the country under the Surakimu Ganga programme implemented by the Ministry of Environment.

Besides the river system, there is a large spring system. Some 1544 water sources have been identified in the Nuwara-Eliya District, 204 in the Kandy District, 19 in the Kurunegala District, 210 in the Moneragala District and two in the Matale District. Minister Amaraweera said that those environmentally protected sensitive areas also needed to be properly designated to protect the water sources.



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Enactment of Ontario’s Genocide Bill subject to Lt. Governor General’s approval

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‘Actions of a few shouldn’t be allowed to jeopardize bilateral relations’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The government has requested Canada not to enact Bill 104 recently adopted by the Ontario Provincial Parliament that resolved that Sri Lanka had committed genocide during the war.

Authoritative sources said that in terms of the Canadian Law in spite of the passage of the controversial Bill 104 moved by Member of Parliament Vijay Thanigasalam (Scarborough—Rouge Park) of Sri Lankan origin, it wouldn’t be enacted until Ontario Lieutenant Governor General Elizabeth Dowdeswell gave her consent on behalf of the Canadian Government. Thanigasalam represents the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.  The Lt. Governor General is appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Sources said that Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena would meet Canadian High Commissioner David McKinnon to discuss this matter. If Ontario Legislative Assembly succeeded in its high profile project, it would lead to similar propaganda operations in other parts of the world, sources said.

Sources said that Sri Lanka’s Counsel General in Toronto and the High Commission in Ottawa on numerous occasions raised the issue with relevant authorities as part of overall efforts to thwart Thanigasalam’s move. Sources said that contrary to reports, Bill 104 had been carried through without a vote in the Toronto Legislative Assembly on May 6 taking advantage of the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic that restricted the participation of the majority of members.

Responding to a query, sources said that Thanigasalam’s project had been facilitated by the Committee on Regulations and Private Bills coming under the purview of Logan Kanapathi also of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (Markham—Thornhill). Sources said that actions of a few Canadians of Sri Lankan origin shouldn’t be allowed to undermine relations between the two countries.

In the wake of the passage of Bill 104, the government roundly condemned the Ontario Provincial Parliament’s move, pointing out so called ‘Tamil Genocide Education Week’ is based on what the Foreign Ministry asserted ‘a flawed premise, unfounded assumptions and blatant lies.’

The government emphasized that the UN or other foreign governments never blamed Sri Lanka for genocide.  

Meanwhile, informed sources said that Sri Lanka’s former High Commissioner in Ottawa Asoka Girihagama yet to return in spite of being recalled after the change of government in Nov 2019 took over the mission in the year before soon after his retirement from Foreign Service. Sri Lanka is yet to name a High Commissioner in the wake of Canada’s refusal to accept retired Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sumangala Dias and outgoing Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, turning down the plum diplomatic post.

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FM conveys SL’s serious concern to Canadian HC

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Minister Gunawardena meets HC McKinnon (pic courtesy FM)

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena  yesterday (10) conveyed Sri Lanka’s deep concern over the adoption of Private Member Bill 104 on ‘Tamil Genocide Education Week’ by the Ontario Legislative Assembly on 06 May 2021 to  Canadian High Commissioner David McKinnon.

The meeting took place at the Foreign Ministry. Pointing out that the position taken by the Ontario Legislative Assembly contradicted the Canadian government’s stand, Gunawardena sought immediate intervention of the Canadian government to stop Royal Assent by Lt. Governor of Ontario to the controversial Bill.

Joining the meeting, Foreign Secretary Admiral (Prof.) Jayanath Colombage elaborated on the potential harm the Bill 104 could cause to the reconciliation process, peace building and the bilateral relations between the two countries. The Foreign Minister, while thanking the Canadian Government for the continuous support extended to Sri Lanka on multiple fronts, also discussed with the High Commissioner a wide range of bilateral issues.

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South Korea boosts SL economy with USD 500 million low interest loan

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In the wake of China granting a USD 500 million loan, the Government of South Korea had agreed to provide concessional loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) of the Export Import Bank of Korea (KEximbank), the Finance Ministry said yesterday.

Accordingly, the Government of Republic of Korea and the Government of Sri Lanka have agreed to sign a new Framework Arrangement for the period of 2020-2022 to obtain loans through EDCF up to an aggregate commitment amount of USD 500 million to finance projects mutually agreed.

The loan interest rate on this concessional loan is about as low as 0.15% -0.20% and the loan has a repayment period of about 40 years with a grace period of 10 years, a statement from the ministry said.

In addition, the two sides agreed to continue the Korean Exim Bank Representative Office, which was opened in Colombo in January 2016 by its Chairman, to further implement the projects in a well-coordinated manner.

The Framework Arrangement was signed yesterday (May 10) by S.R. Attygalle, Secretary, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, and Woonjin Jeong, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, representing the Republic of Korea.

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