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Environmentalists sound alarm bells over ‘dangerous proposals’ pertaining to Knuckles Range

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By Ifham Nizam

Environmentalists said yesterday that three dangerous proposals that could have a disastrous impact on the biodiversity of the Knuckles Range were to be presented to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the ‘Gama Samaga Pilisandara’ programme which would be held today (13) at Meemure.

Supun Lahiru Prakash, Convener – Biodiversity Conservation and Research Circle, said: “There is a proposal for constructing an eight-kilometre road from Meemure village to Laggala-Pallegama, which will fragment the Knuckles Forest. In addition there is a proposal to distribute 90 acres of densely forested land in an irrigation reservation among political henchmen for paddy cultivation. There is an attempt to grow cardamom in the area once again.”

The Knuckles forest range was added ti the 56,844 ha of Sri Lanka’s highlands UNESCO world heritage site declared in 2010. The property comprises the Peak Wilderness Protected Area, the Horton Plains National Park and the Knuckles Conservation Forest.

These mountain forests, where the land rises to 2,500 metres above sea-level, are home to a wide range of flora and fauna, including several endangered species such as the western-purple-faced Langur, the Horton Plains slender Loris and the Sri Lankan leopard. The region is considered a biodiversity hotspot. It also included Buffer zone of 72,645 ha. 64% of the amphibians and 51% of the reptiles in the Knuckles Conservation Forest are endemic. More than half of Sri Lanka’s endemic vertebrates, half of the country’s endemic flowering plants and more than 34% of its endemic trees, shrubs, and herbs are restricted to these diverse mountain rain forests and adjoining grassland areas.

Prakash said: “We strongly oppose all these three demands which will severely affect the biological diversity of the Knuckles range. The loss of land and fragmentation of the rest of the forest will push, further, the critically endangered wildlife to the edge of extinction. As we are aware these demands do not represent the genuine needs of the villages and these will only be benefited to a few politicians and administrative officers. Therefore, we kindly request the President to be mindful of this and support the conservation of natural habitat in Sri Lanka.”



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Social relations and solidarity emerge as fundamental pillars essential for steering our nation forward along the path of progress and prosperity – President

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President Rani Wickremesinghe in his New Year Message stressed that social relations and solidarity emerge as fundamental pillars essential for steering our nation forward along the path of progress and prosperity

The full text of the President’s message follows:

“The progression of nations, countries and the global community is propelled by the perpetual cycle of renewal, where innovative ideas are nurtured and novel creations come to fruition.

Embracing renewal in accordance with the traditional New Year, the calendar year, or the changing seasons, individuals across the globe find themselves revitalized, endowed with fresh opportunities for growth and advancement. Beneath the surface of these myriad renewals lies a fundamental truth; the paramount importance of social relationships and collective unity.

During the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, we engage in a profound renewal of self, centering our focus on nurturing bonds and fostering a sense of gregariousness. This emphasis on interpersonal bonds is the cornerstone of traditional New Year rituals observed across diverse cultures worldwide.

It is important to emphasize the significance of this pivotal point, particularly during the New Year festivities, as it serves as a poignant reminder of the essence of human connection and communal solidarity.

In the dawn of the New Year, social relations and solidarity emerge as fundamental pillars essential for steering our nation forward along the path of progress and prosperity. With this understanding in mind, I extend my heartfelt wishes for a joyous and fulfilling Sinhala and Tamil New Year.”

 

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Sinhala and Tamil New Year auspicious times

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The Auspicious times for the Sinhala and Tamil New Year 2024 are as follows

13th April
02:41pm –  Punya Kalaya
09:05pm  – Dawn of the New Year
11:06pm –  Lighting of the Hearth

14th April 
00:06am – Starting work, Partaking of meals and transactions

15th April
10:17am – Anointing

17th April
06:52am – Leaving for work

18th April 
10:16am – Planting trees

 

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Heat Index at ‘Caution’ level in Northern and North-Western provinces and Anuradhapura district

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Heat Index advisory issued by the Natural Hazards Early Warning Centre At 4.00 p.m. 12 April 2024, valid for 13 April  2024

The Natural hazards Early Warning Centre says that the Heat Index, the temperature felt on the human body is expected to increase up to ‘Caution level’ at some places in Northern and North-Western provinces and Anuradhapura district.

The Heat Index Forecast is calculated by using relative humidity and maximum temperature and this is the condition that is felt on your body. This is not the forecast of maximum temperature. It is generated by the Department of Meteorology for the next day period and prepared by using global numerical weather prediction model data.

Effect of the heat index on human body is mentioned in the above table and it is prepared on the advice of the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services.

ACTION REQUIRED

Job sites: Stay hydrated and takes breaks in the shade as often as possible.
Indoors: Check up on the elderly and the sick.
Vehicles: Never leave children unattended.
Outdoors: Limit strenuous outdoor activities, find shade and stay hydrated.
Dress: Wear lightweight and white or light-colored clothing.

Note:
In addition, please refer to advisories issued by the Disaster Preparedness & Response Division, Ministry of Health in this regard as well. For further clarifications please contact 011-7446491

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