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Environmentalists vow to go to highest courts to block return of elephants



By Ifham Nizam

Environmentalists and their lawyers yesterday vowed to file a writ application in the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal against the Attorney General’s Department and the Criminal Investigations Department over the returning of some elephants back to their keepers.

Environmental Lawyer Dr. Jagath Gunawardana stressed that on the part of AG’s Department there was a grave lack of concern. “They should have investigated …there can’t be a regulation against the law.”

He said that they were looking at filing a writ petition in the Court of Appeal or a Fundamental Rights (FR) petition in the Supreme Court (SC). Elephants were moved out of the Pinnawala and Udawalawe Elephant Shelters, back to their owners, following a decision taken by the Magistrate’s Court following CID submissions, on the advice of the Attorney General.

Since 2015, 34 such elephants, including baby elephants, were taken into custody and held with the DWC and the National Zoos.

“However, the Court ruling on 06 September allows the return of 14 of these elephants back to their so-called original owners – although we regard it as stolen property being returned to thieves,” claimed the former Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) President Rukshan Jayewardene.

Director-General of the Department of National Zoological Gardens Ishini Wickremesinghe yesterday stepped down from her post. Her resignation comes amidst a controversial Gazette that paved the way for the return of several elephants currently held in state protection, to their previous owners.

The government claims the Gazette was brought in as a means of protecting elephants.

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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries



The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.


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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter



The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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