Environmentalists to move SC against return of 14 elephants to those who kept them previously
By Ifham Nizam
Environmentalists backed by Ven. Omalpe Sobitha said yesterday they would appeal against the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court order that 14 elephant calves taken into protective custody by the Wildlife Department, alleging illegal capture, be retunred to those who previously kept them.
They said they would do so to prevent a grave injustice being caused to the elephants.
Naturalist Sajeewa Chamikara alleged that order had come from none other than President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, when The Island queried whether the matter was taken up with President and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Rally for Animal Rights and Environment (RARE) Communication Coordinator, Panchali Panapitiya all 14 elephants were now juveniles and the sheer brutality and force that woudl be used to “tame” them was unthinkable. She said among the elephants to be returned was an animal which was gifted by then President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Gotabaya Rajapaksa during the previous Rajapaksa government. The elephant was later voluntarily handed over to the Pinnawala Orphanage.
The other elephants are owned by Dishan Wickremaratna – Matara, Waruna Kannangara – Horana, Chathuranga Weerasinghe – Alawwa, S.N. Roshan – Pannipitiya, Kamal Kithsiri – Kottawa, Samantha Wijemanna – Amithirigala, Buddhika Deshapriya – Hingula, Chief incumbent of Sri Sambodhi Viharaya – Colombo 7, Ajith Siri Kumara – Hokandara, Hasanthi Champika Karunaratna – Ganegoda and Bharatha Amaratunga – Meegoda.
Nature lovers Rukshan Jayawardene, Dr. Jagath Gunawardana, Sajeewa Chamikara, Hemantha Withanage, Supun Lahiru Prakash, Ravindranath Dabare, Nayanaka Ranwella and many other veteran conservationists and activists also expressed concern about the government’s plan.
Hemantha Withanage of Centre for Environmental Justice said that a recent gazette notification which enabled persons to seek fresh registration of elephants held with them had been cited.
Environmental Lawyer Dr. Jagath Gunawardena said that the particular gazette notification had been issued only recently but made applicable to cases filed earlier.
Sacked PUCSL Chairman fights back, writes to Prez
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) Janaka Ratnayake yesterday wrote to President Wickremesinghe denying all allegations levelled against him.
Earlier in the day, Ratnayake received a note informing of his removal from the PUCSL.
“I write in response to your above captioned letter dated 22 March 2023. At the outset I strongly deny all and singular the several allegations contained against me in your letter under reference,” he said.
The PUCSL Chairman said his letter contained a detailed response..
“I was given an extremely short period of one week, despite the serious consequences that could flow from the misconceived allegations made against me,” Ratnayake said.
He said that the PUCSL was not a rubber stamp for proposals put forward by the Electricity Industry including the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).
“But the PUCSL should duly exercise its powers and functions as an independent regulator even when the consequent decision reached by it may be one which is not desired by the CEB or the Government,” he said.
Ratnayake said that the PUCSL acting independently has resulted in the Minister of Power and Energy being unable at times to act at his whim and fancy.
“This appears to have irked the Minister of Power and Energy, and also the President. In May 2022, the secretary to the President had phoned my personal assistant instructing her to “ask the Chairman of the Commission to refrain from making any announcement or statement contradicting the speech made by the Prime Minister.”
Singer Sri Lanka bags top awards
Singer Sri Lanka PLC clinched the People’s Brand of the Year and Durable Brand of the Year Awards for the 17th consecutive year at the SLIM-KANTAR Awards held at the Monarch Imperial on 27th March, 2023. Singer Sri Lanka PLC Chairman Mohan Pandithage receiving the award from Chief Guest, Sri Lanka Test Cricket Captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Guest of Honour, Past President-SLIM Kalana Ratnayake at the glittering ceremony. Singer Sri Lanka PLC CEO Mahesh Wijewardene, Marketing Director, Shanil Perera, Marketing Manager, Piyum Jayathilaka and other senior officials were present. Pic by Kamal Bogoda
SJB trade unionist calls for significant fuel price reduction
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Convenor of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) trade union wing, Samagi Joint Trade Union Alliance, Ananda Palitha yesterday (28) said that with the appreciation of rupee against the USD and comparatively lower crude prices in the world market, the government could reduce the price of litre of petrol (92 Octane) and diesel by as much as Rs 100 and petrol (95 Octane) by Rs 125.
The trade unionist said that the price of a litre of kerosene, furnace oil and naphtha, too, could be decreased by Rs 100 each.
Responding to The Island queries, the former Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) employee said that fuel prices should be revised as fast as possible for the benefit of the public.
Lanka IOC should follow the new pricing formula, the former UNP trade union leader said, strongly urging the government to re-examine the petroleum sector. It would be pertinent to mention that petroleum and water sectors, too, should be brought under the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in terms of PUC Act No 35 of 2002, Ananda Palitha said.
Former Power and Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila said that he was out of the country.
Therefore, I couldn’t comment without studying the latest developments.
Ananda Palitha found fault with political parties represented in parliament for the inordinate delay in fully implementing the Act that was meant to regulate three vital sectors. The PUC received authority to regulate the electricity industry, in terms of Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 20 of 2009, Palitha said. However, respective Acts, pertaining to Petroleum and Water, were yet to be passed by Parliament, the trade union leader said pointing out that the delay on the part of the parliament seemed deliberate.
Asked whether they opposed the further liberalisation of retail market with the entry of more foreign companies, Ananda Palitha said that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government was exploiting the current political-economic-social crisis to advance the original agenda of Wickremesinghe.
“We are facing a frightening situation,” the SJB activist said, urging political parties represented in parliament to review rapid developments taking place. The entry of four foreign entities should be examined against the backdrop of Lanka IOC further expanding its operations here, Ananda Palitha said.
The outspoken trade unionist warned against moves to gradually weaken Sapugaskanda oil refinery to pave the way for increased import of refined products. “The refinery that launched operations in 1969 during Dudley Senbanayake’s era received the attention of President J.R. Jayewardene and Ranasinghe Premadasa. But, since then no President paid attention to the facility,” Ananda Palitha said. Instead of enhancing its capacity, successive governments were working overtime to weaken it for obvious reasons, the trade unionist said.
According to him, all were attacking Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera over the continuing crisis in the petroleum sector. “We should question President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Cabinet-of-Ministers headed by the President and the relevant Sectoral Oversight Committee,” Ananda Palitah said.
Ananda Palitha said that political parties as well as some trade unions should accept responsibility for the pathetic situation in the petroleum sector. For want of a cohesive action plan, politicians and interested parties regardless of on and off setbacks were able to pursue their agendas detrimental to Sri Lanka, he said.
Sacked PUCSL Chairman fights back, writes to Prez
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