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Dredging of Tissa Wewa halted amidst protests by environmentalists



By Ifham Nizam


Environmentalists yesterday welcomed Archaeology Director General Senior Professor Anura Manatunga’s intervention  to halt the removal of soil and mud from the Tissawewa at Tissamaharama, by a Chinese company

Social Scientist and  environmentalist Dr Ravindra Kariyawasam  told The Island that be it an American or Chinese company, they were here for a reason and they were least concerned about local ecosystems or archaeological sites.

Dr. Kariyawsam, who is also the Convener of the Centre of Environment and Nature Studies, stressed that Sri Lanka’s tank system was internationally known.

“The Chinese don’t know about our eco systems. Otherwise, they would not have built the Port City here.  Tissawewa  is about 1,000 years old has a unique eco system, which will be destroyed by haphazard dredging.

Kariyawasam said that in 2010, the World Food Programme and World Health Organisation ranked Sri Lanka as the fourth country with the highest rate of deforestation, a position that it still hold today,.”

“Decisions like this can set a bad precedent for future threats to our forests and nature,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, a senior  archeologist said that any renovation work on the Tissawewa should be approved by the Archaeological Department and that a Chinese company had dredged the reservoir using heavy machinery without permission. “We are told a senior minister is behind such a move, the Department had taken up the matter with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.”

Hambantota District Assistant Director of Archeology Wasantha Alahakoon has written to the Irrigation Department requesting that the project be halted until permission is obtained from the Archaeological Department; the work was suspended on Friday.

The Department of Irrigation had not yet sent a letter requesting permission for such activities, he said.

Senior Professor of Archeology Raj Somadeva said he believed  that the ancient city of Magama had been located near this reservoir and many artifacts may have got washed into the reservoir.

He said that thousands of Gaja Lakshmi coins had been found during previous excavations and that the removal of mud from the Wewa must be done after investigations by the Archaeological Department.

In March,  government initiated a programme to clean 103 rivers and strengthen the banks of tanks in the country.,

The  Chinese joint venture to renovate irrigation tanks here was launched on Monday (21) and the opening stage will see the renovation of the Tissawewa.

“The water released from the Uma-Oya project will reach the Anuradhapura District soon. Therefore, it is our responsibility to ensure that we store this water in our irrigation system, without allowing it to reach the sea,” Minister Chamal Rajapaksa said during the launch of the project.

According to the Minister, the government of Sri Lanka is not incurring any cost for the installation of the machine.

“We are not paying to install this machine. They have to remove silt from the tank and pay us as well for it. They can take the sand and clay removed from the tank and sell it,” the Irrigation Minister said.

The Tissawewa is believed to have been constructed by King Yatala-Tissa who established the Ruhunu Kingdom or his uncle, King Devanampiyatissa who ruled the Anuradhapura Kingdom during the 03rd century BC.

The furor caused by the Ministers comments resulted in a press statement issued via the Department of Government Information, in which the Ministry of Irrigation affirmed the government will act responsibly towards addressing the drinking water crisis as well as protecting rainforests which are home to national water resources.


Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused



By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.



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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas



By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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