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Environment Minister: Crudia Zeylanica plant not removed from Red Data List



By Ifham Nizam

The Crudia Zeylanica plant has not been removed from the Red Data List as claimed by some of the media, Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said yesterday.

He expressed disappointment at claims that the Crudia Zeylanica plant had been removed from the 2020 Red List.

“But there is no truth in these media reports. The Ministry of Environment emphasises that the Crudia Zeylanica plant has not been removed from the 2020 Red Data List,” he added.

It has been revealed that the Crudia Ceylanica or Pandu Karanda plant near the Daraluwa Railway Station in Gampaha is rare.

 In the Red Data List published in 2012, five extinct plants from Sri Lanka were included in that List.

They are (I) Rinorea decora (Violaceae), (II) Rinorea bengalensis (III) Crudia zeylanica (Fabaceae) (IV) Strobilanthes caudata (Acanthaceae), (V) Blumea angustifolia (Asteraceae). There are five types.

However, in the Botanical  Surveys conducted after 2012, three species of Rinorea decora (Violaceae), Rinorea bengalensis, and Crudia zeylanica (Fabaceae) were re-surveyed in compiling the Red Data List of 2020 Plants.

Crudia zeylanica is one of them. It was this plant that led to a controversy during the construction of the new Expressway. But with the identification of the particular plant, it had been found in several other places, the Minister said, adding that, therefore, the plant was no longer considered an extinct species from Sri Lanka. However, the plant had not been removed from the Red Data List, which has categorised it as a critically endangered plant.

Strobilanthes caudata (Acanthaceae), Blumea angustifolia (Asteraceae), considered extinct in Sri Lanka were included in the 2012 Red List. The two plant species are also listed as endangered in our 2020 Red Data List.

Doona ovalifolia (Dipterocarpaceae) and Alphonsia hortensis (Annonaceae) are included in the 2012 Red Data List of Extinct in the Wild (EW) .

Eugenia xanthocarpa (Myrtaceae) has been currently listed in the 2020 Red Data List as Extinct in the Wild.

 Alphonsea hortensis and Eugenia xanthocarpa are currently cultivated at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya.

Therefore, some media and social media reports that the Crudia Zeylanica has been removed from the 2020 Red Data List were false, Minister Amaraweera said.

“This Red Data List is compiled according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) criteria. Therefore, we cannot add or remove Red Data List as we wish,” the Environment Minister pointed out.

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Bandula undertakes to take over SLIIT



Bandula Gunawardane has, in his capacity, as the trade minister, assured the SLPP Parliamentary group that action would be taken to take over the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) divested through fraudulent means.

Political sources said that the assurance had been given at this week’s meeting chaired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the President’s House. Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, too, was present. Minister Gunawardane said so when lawmakers Premanath C. Dolawatta and Weerasumana Weerasinghe raised the issue.

Chairman of COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) Prof. Charitha Herath, who called for taking over of SLIIT, too, was present at the meeting. Communist Party MP Weerasinghe said that they were really happy to receive such an assurance from Minister Gunawardane. Appreciating the manner in which the COPE under Prof. Herath’s leadership had handled the inquiry into the SLIIT acquisition, Matara District lawmaker Weerasinghe said the onus was on the government to take remedial measures immediately.

MP Weerasinghe said that denial of SLIIT ownership to the government was certainly not an isolated case. The way some officials and governments cooperated in daylight robbery of state property couldn’t have happened without the tacit understanding at the highest levels, lawmaker Weerasinghe said. (SF)

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SJB too demands prosecution of ex-President Sirisena and others over Easter carnage



By Saman Indrajith

The SJB yesterday demanded that the government allow the Attorney General to prosecute all those against whom the Presidential Commission of inquiry on Easter Sunday carnage wanted criminal proceedings instituted.

Addressing the media at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo, Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella said that the Attorney General could not be forced by the government to spare certain individuals. “The report of the Presidential Commission recommends that legal action be taken against the former head of State Intelligence Service, senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena and the former President Maithripala Sirisena. But the government does not implement those recommendations.

“The Cardinal says that before the election, Gotabaya Rajapaksa promised to prosecute all those responsible for the carnage. After release of the PCoI report the Cardinal has been told by the President that he could not implement some recommendations therein because he would lose his popularity. That is wrong. He cannot do so, it is the job of the Attorney General. It is not the President who implements the law of this country but the Attorney General. The President has no powers to that. “Upon the receipt of the PCoI report the government appointed a cabinet subcommittee under Minister Chamal Rajapaksa to study the report. Now, the government implements the recommendations of that sub-committee which has recommended to select whom should be prosecuted and who should be left out from the original list of persons identified by the PCoI as responsible for the terror attacks.

“The PCoI recommendations are not being properly implemented. We demand that the government should implement all recommendations of the PCoI. Victims demand the same. The Church and the Cardinal demand the same. The AG should prosecute all identified by the PCoI and let the judiciary decide who is guilty and who is not. The President cannot interfere in selecting the list to be prosecuted. That amounts to the Executive interfering in the matters of the judiciary.”

MP Kiriella said that consequences of the October 2018 constitutional crisis and 52-day government had paved the way for the Easter Sunday terror attacks. “That crisis started on 26 Oct., 2018. Thereafter, the then President Sirisena sidelined the UNP, which was the main party in the Yahapalana government. The National Security Council met without anyone representing the UNF government. The NSC was even attended by some SLFP MPs. President Sirisena took over the Ministry of Law and Order under him in addition to the Defence Ministry. The first move against the Yahapalana government was the 52-day government; the second was the Easter Sunday attack. Nilantha Jayawardena received all information and intelligence from India with exact dates, places and even the names of the attackers. He says that he did not pass that intelligence on to President Sirisena, who was the Minister of Defence. That was an offence. When the PCoI asked Jayawardena to surrender his mobile phone, he did so after deleting all its records. That too is an offence. Former President Sirisena says that he did not know anything about the matter because he had not been informed of it. Yet, the PCoI determined that he was responsible. The government should let the Attorney General implement the recommendations of the PCoI by prosecuting all who have been identified as persons responsible for the Easter Sunday carnage.”

SJB Kurunegala District MP JC Alawathuwala also addressed the press.

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BIA rapid testing PCR lab back in action



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The rapid testing PCR lab at the Bandaranaike International Airport, which was non-operational for several weeks, resumed accepting samples yesterday (27.)

Earlier, the Director General of Health Services authorised the PCR lab, SASL Hospinorm, to operate.

The lab can provide a PCR test report within three hours.

Those who test positive for COVID will be sent to quarantine centres.

Since passengers can get PCR report in three hours, they need to arrive at the airport six hours before departure. Passengers are provided with all facilities until the reports are issued.

The first passengers to benefit from the lab were those who arrived in QR 668 of Qatar Airways. The flight landed at 2.15 am yesterday (27).

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