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Deforestation has spiked over the past few years – Minister Mahinda Amarawera

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By Ifham Nizam

More than 300 people who violated environmental laws have been prosecuted within the first quarter of this year, Environment Minister Mahinda Amarawera said.

Amaraweera said last year (2020), 190 cases of deforestation were reported and legal action filed against those involved.

“Over the past few years, the graph of deforestation in our country has been steadily rising. But, I can say with responsibility that after 2022, the curve of environmental damage will be reversed,” he stressed.

He assured that all possible measures have been taken against those who cause damage to the environment.

“Sometimes, I face many problems. But I have the strength to face them. Environmental damage will not be allowed to happen after 2022, he said.

The Minister also took part at the launch of the Ministry of Environment publication on the National Policy on Traditional Knowledge and Practices Related to Biodiversity.

The policy was formulated by the Biodiversity Secretariat of the Ministry of Environment and handed over to the Minister by the Director of the Secretariat, Mrs. Padma Abeykoon.

Amaraweera said the traditional knowledge and know-how Sri Lankans have depended on over the past 2,500 years still hold and are very much in use. However, today there are many who don’t want to follow this traditional knowledge.

“Our younger generation in particular is of the view that traditional knowledge is unscientific. But, I think there are times when our traditional knowledge and wisdom are far ahead of modern science and new technology,” he added.

He thanked Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Secretary to the Environment Ministry and Dr. Padma Abeykoon, Director, on their efforts to publish traditional knowledge related to biodiversity.



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Avishka and Sadeera power Jaffna Kings to nine wicket win

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Half tons by Avishka Fernando and Sadeera Samarawickrema powered Jaffna Kings to a nine wicket win over Dambulla giants in the 3rd match of the LPL at MRICS Hambanthota on Wednesday (07)

Dambulla Giants 121/9 in 20 overs (Jordan Cox 43; Maheesh Theekshana 3/20, Vijayakanth Vijaskanth 3/24, James Fuller 2/16, Zaman Khan 1/28)

Jaffna Kings 122/1 in 15.4 overs (Avishka Fernando 51 , Sadeera Samarawickrema 62 not out; Noor Ahamed 1/28)

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Govt. says selling state assets only way to build reserves and prevent crippling shortages

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday (06) said Sri Lanka wouldn’t be in a position to be part of the international trading system unless it boosted its foreign reserves by selling some of its assets. Gunawardena, who also holds media and transport portfolios said so at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Responding to a query about the government’s decision to divest vital national assets, the Minister said that if Sri Lanka did not shore up its reserves to the tune of over three billion dollars, international companies would not accept the letters of credit given by Sri Lankan banks.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Finance Minister, has proposed privatising of several state enterprises including Sri Lanka Insurance and Sri Lanka Telecom.

“Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga sold a number of state owned enterprises. If we don’t increase our reserves, to over three billion USD soon, we will have problems importing fuel, and other essential items. Last week, Fitch again reduced our rating. No matter who governs Sri Lanka, they will all face the same problem. We need to build our reserves,” the Minister said.

Minister Gunawardane said that the need of the hour was to sell some assets and boost Sri Lanka’s reserves.

“China, India, Vietnam, and Malaysia are attracting a lot of investors. Only we have failed to do so, and we need to think why this is. Even our entrepreneurs are leaving for other countries. We need to change the way we think, if we want to attract investors to Sri Lanka,” he said.

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Ven Siridhamma, Mudalige granted bail; latter re-arrested

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Convenor of Bhikku Balamandalaya affiliated Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera leaving Court yesterday (06) after Kaduwela Magistrate Chanima Wijebandara granted him bail. The Thera was held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for causing damages to public property during a protest opposite the Education Ministry, over three months back. The Magistrate ordered the Thera released after the police failed to identify the monk at an identification parade. However, IUSF Convenor Wasanatha Mudalige, who was also released by the Magistrate, after the police couldn’t identify him, was taken into custody in connection with some other case.

Pics by Kamal Bogoda

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