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Environmentalists teaming up to file legal action against X-Press Pearl

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By Ifham Nizam and Norman Palihawadane

Environmentalists are teaming up to file legal action against the ill-fated vessel MV X-PRESS PEARL, stressing that the damage is huge and elsewhere authorities had taken action against the ship’s Captain and the crew.

A similar incident had taken place in Indonesia this week and authorities took action against the ship crew, environmental activist Nayanaka Ranwella said.

Ranwella said that the Sri Lanka Ports Authority should release documents with regard to the contents of the vessel without further delay.

“These documents are said to be with the Ports Authority,” he said.

“I believe that the authorities should initiate an investigation after collecting details from the Black Box of the ship,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigations Department yesterday appointed a 10-member team to investigate the ship fire.

The investigation is being conducted by three Chief Inspectors and an Assistant Superintendent on the instructions of the Director and the DIG of the Criminal Investigations Department.

Last week, the Director-General of the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) filed a complaint with the Harbour Police over the environmental destruction caused by the fire onboard the vessel.

Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said the Colombo Harbour Police had presented facts to the Colombo Magistrate’s Court and on the orders of the court, samples had been sent to the Government Analyst.

DIG Rohana also said that they were in the process of seeking Interpol assistance against the ship.

The CID was in the process of recording statements from the Captain and Chief Engineer of the vessel.

In addition, a separate investigation has go underway against the people who violated the quarantine rules by leaving their residences in Pamuuugama, Kochchikade, Negombo, and Dungalpitiya police areas to collect debris from the blazing container ship.

The affected seafront is known for its crabs and jumbo prawns. It is also a popular tourist beach.

“This is probably the worst beach pollution in our history,” said Dharshani Lahandapura, head of Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment and Protection Authority (MEPA).

Hundreds of military and security personnel in hazmat suits are cleaning the beaches of plastic waste and other debris from the ship, which caught fire on May 20.

The impact of the debris has had on mangroves, lagoons and marine wildlife in the region is being assessed.

The jobs of thousands of fishermen are at risk, according to authorities, and the MEPA said a possible oil leak would only add to the devastation.

Much of the ship’s cargo, including 25 tonnes of nitric acid, sodium hydroxide, lubricants and other chemicals, had apparently been destroyed by the fire, officials said.



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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