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Environmentalists punch holes in EIA on Muthurajawela land reclamation

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by Rathindra Kuruwita

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report on the Muthurajawela land reclamation activities for the proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant had a number of holes and implementing the project would have devastating ecological, hydrological and socio-economic impacts, environmentalists said yesterday

They said that given that fact Sri Lanka, too, would stop using LNG by the 2040s, the entire project would be a waste of public funds.

Environmental Officer at the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Indika Rajapaksha said that the project required the filling of 47 hectares of land, 30 that belonged to the Sri Lanka Land Development Corporation and 17 that belonged to the Wattala Divisional Secretariat.

“The project is to use 1.1 million cubic metres of sand from sea and the sand will be taken from a sand burrowing site that was used previously for the Port City Project. However, those who prepared the EIA do not know the current status of the site. We have already burrowed 60 million cubes of sand to the Port City from this site. These will definitely have an impact on the fish, corals and sea grass beds, which in turn will have a devastating impact on the fishermen in the area,” Rajapaksha said.

Meanwhile, filling up 47 hectares of marsh land would have a significant impact on the flood retention capacity of Muthurajawela, he said. The EIA erroneously stated that only 1% of the flood retention area would be reduced by the project, however the real number was close to 25%, Rajapaksha said.

“The EIA does a neat trick. When those who prepared the EIA, calculated the total flood retention area, they had also considered a lot of land in the Negombo lagoon. However, if we look at the flood retention area of Muthurajawela it’s only 207 hectares,” he said.

The CEJ Environmental Officer said that in 2020, Professor. Prasanthi Gunawardena of the Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura did an ecosystem survey of Muthurajawela marsh and estimated its annual value at Rs. 2.74 billion.

Meanwhile, independent energy expert Vidhura Ralapanawe said that the earliest LNG plants at the site will be built only in 2027. However, the policy of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration is to have 70% of power through renewable energy, he said. Moreover in August 2019, Sri Lanka had pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050.

“To meet either of these goals, we can’t have a fossil fuel plant after the one that will be built in 2024. However, the CEB says it plans to build two LNG plants in 2027 and 2033. These plants can’t be built, because it’s against policy. Recently, President Rajapaksa has insisted that he will not support the construction of fossil fuel plants and that he is quite serious about his renewable energy goals. So, what is even the point of filling the marsh land?,” Ralapanawe asked.

He said that if the government went ahead with the project, it would be another indication of the lack of communication between various branches of the government.



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Washington will continue to support Lanka’s fight against Covid-19

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US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz explaining a point to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Aebywardena during their meeting yesterday.

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz yesterday said that the US would continue to support Sri Lanka’s fight against Covid-19 through the COVAX facility.

She made the pledge during a courtesy call on Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday, Parliament sources said.

Marcus Carpenter, Deputy Chief of political division and Kushani Rohanadeera, Deputy Secretary-General of Parliament and Chief of Staff were also present at the meeting which was held at the Speaker’s Office in Parliament.

A number of issues of mutual interest were discussed between Sri Lanka and the US, including diplomatic and economic matters. Furthermore, the future intended investments of the United States in Sri Lanka for the future of the energy sector were also discussed, sources said.

The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka expressed how pleased she was over the steps taken to establish a Special Committee for the purpose of reforming the current electoral system in Sri Lanka and the steps taken by Parliament to re-establish the Sectoral Oversight Committees of Parliament.

The Ambassador also informed the Speaker that the US continues to support the development of Sri Lanka and protect democracy in the face of COVID faced by the whole world.

 

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Institute of Chemistry organises webinar on ‘Genes, Immunity and COVID-19 Vaccines’

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Arrangements have been made by the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon to conduct a webinar on “Genes, Immunity and COVID-19 Vaccines” with the intention of disseminating awareness on the widely spread COVID-19 and the importance of vaccination.

The webinar will be held via zoom from 8.30 am to 12.00 noon on Sept 4, a press release issued by the Institute said yesterday.

It said: The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak that originated in the city of Wuhan, China, has claimed countless lives within a span of two years causing significant damage to the world’s population and the global economy. Within the passage of a year, the emergence of changing COVID-19 variants with higher transmissibility, increased fatality was discovered around the globe. Currently, Sri Lanka is fighting the third wave of coronavirus and there has been an increase in the number of cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus across the country.

With the current situation, the need and importance of vaccination has become a vital tool in the battle against coronavirus. Vaccines save millions of lives each year and the development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a huge step taken forward in the effort to end the pandemic. Misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines provided by different information channels have led to hesitations in accepting the COVID-19 vaccine among the population. This seminar will provide information on COVID-19 vaccines currently available and will be an immense help to clear any doubt with regards to COVID-19 vaccines.

The programme hopes to cover topics such as “Genomics of COVID-19” by Dr. Sameera. R. Samarakoon. “COVID-19 and Nutrition” by Prof. Ranil Jayawardena, “Immune response in COVID- 19: friend or foe” by Dr. Narmada Fernando, “COVID-19 Vaccine: What is Best” by Prof. Chandima Jeewandra and “Concluding Remarks and a Q&A session” by Prof. Nimal Punyasiri. The seminar will be moderated by Prof. Chayanika Padumadasa.

You can register to this webinar by visiting the IchemC website (ichemc.edu.lk) while more information can be obtained by contacting the Institute at 011-2861231. Also you may obtain information by sending an email to covidseminar21@gmail.com

For more details, please contact Ms. Nishadi (077 730 6270) / Ms. Shanali (076 553 2142)

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COVID Shield app introduced to Sri Lanka to fight against COVID-19 pandemic

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Health Informatics Society of Sri Lanka (HISSL) and the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health (CWCDH) have introduced the COVID Shield app to Sri Lanka to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID Shield App allows users to assess their lung health on a regular basis to identify deteriorations associated with COVID-19 early.

The app uses the in-built sound recording features of a smartphone to analyze the breathing sounds and gather additional data when the user performs several simple tests to determine breathing performance.

The app tracks lung health along with other symptoms to support identifying COVID-19 related deterioration early.

In addition to identifying the state of lung health, COVID Shield is also capable of providing the users with alerts based on overall assessment of his or her symptoms. Based on these alerts, the users can take the next step without delaying seeking medical advice. The users will also receive COVID-19 related health education and latest statistics from reliable sources on his or her dashboard.

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