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EP Governor on where Province has gone wrong despite all its potential



The Eastern Province blessed with huge amounts of resources remained one of the poorest provinces of the country owing to inaction and lethargy of officials, Eastern Province governor Anuradha Yahampath said yesterday.

Addressing a meeting at the Batticaloa District Secretariat to formulate a sustainable development plan in accordance with the vision of the Vistas of Prosperity programme, the Governor said: “This province accounts for 25 percent of paddy production of the country. Its fishers harvest is 25 percent of the total catch of the country. The milk production, too, is very high, but the province remains one of the poorest in the country. What is the reason for this mismatch? We have not been able to help people reap the benefits of their efforts and the resources the province has.”

 The Governor said that the incumbent government was capable of bringing about a change that was hoped by the people. “This government has leaders capable of developing the country. It is led by those who won the war – a feat that had been only a dream for many because the former governments had the mindset that the war would never be won. Not even the international community thought that our leaders could achieve it. We could have done so because people all alike stood behind the government and supported its war effort. I am sure that the people will stand firm with their unwavering support if they are convinced that we are genuinely engaged in developing this country,” she said, adding that the fault lies in the hands of officials who could not commit themselves hundred percent to developing this nation.

 “My objective is to turn this province into a centre of development. We must understand that time is not a luxury we have and must make use of time wisely to improve the conditions that leads to the despair of people. We should set an example by committing ourselves to this task and then people will follow suit.

“Today, I summoned this meeting for you to meet a team of experts who had worked with dedication to formulate the Vistas of Prosperity programme. I too worked with them and other experts of the Viyath Maga and know that they share the vision of not leaving the task of developing this nation and bringing the country on par with developed nations to another generation. We must be the change and that will ensure that change will take place.”

Prof Praveen Abhayaratne, Prof Lalithasiri Gunaruwan, Chairperson of the Central Environment Authority Attorney-at-Law Darshani Lahandapura, Senior Lecturer Sampath Vahala, former Deputy Director of Customs Samantha Gunasekera, Engineer Ravi de Silva, Arjuna Perera, Madhawa Boteju, Anushka Kumara, Chief Secretary of the Province Tusitha P Wanigasinghe, Secretary to the Governor L.P. Madanayake, all secretaries of the provincial ministers and directors of the provincial institutions were present on the occasion. 

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Cabraal: Prez appoints members to Port City Economic Commission



By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatta

The President of the country would always appoint members to the Colombo Port City Economic Commission, entrusted with running of that city under the proposed CPCEC Bill, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, yesterday, told the media, in Colombo.

State Minister Cabraal said that most critics of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill had not even read it.

“Sri Lankans don’t need to obtain a visa to enter the Port City as some claim. The Port City will be administered by the Colombo Port City Economic Commission and the Bill we have presented details how the area will be governed,” Cabraal said responding to a question posed by a journalist.

The State Minister said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had asked him to counter the misinformation and fake news that was being spread about the Bill. Once people have read and understood the Bill, most who criticise it would have to change their tune, the Minister said.


Journalists also questioned the State Minister on the allegations levelled by MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakse. The State Minister said that Rajapakse had not even asked a question about the Bill during the Parliamentary Group meetings.

“As I said earlier, the Port City will be administered by Colombo Port City Economic Commission. All members are appointed by the President. The Chairman of the Commission too is appointed by the President. The President can get rid of them anytime he wants,” Cabraal said.

The State Minister added that no one would be allowed to withdraw money or assets from Sri Lanka and invest in the Port City. “This is a special economic zone. We need to attract foreign direct investments. We need to have ease of doing business in this zone and we have to make it an important financial hub in the region.”

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Two hotels to be built obstructing elephant corridor in Sinharaja – MONLAR



Forest land being cleared for the construction of a hotel

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Bowitiyatenna elephant corridor, used by elephants in Sinharaja to travel to Dellawa – Walankanda forest had been obstructed by two businessmen by clearing a section of the forest to build hotels, Sajeeewa Chamikara of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) said.

“One hotel is being constructed in the Dolekanda Grama Niladari area after clearing seven acres of forest land. The Kalawana Divisional Secretariat has approved the construction of the hotel ignoring environmental regulations. Right now, forests are being cleared, land is being prepared and buildings are being constructed using heavy equipment.”

Another hotel was being built at the Bowitiyatenna Elephant Corridor, situated in Godakawela Divisional Secretariat area by a businessman from Godakawela. He has cleared around eight acres of forest land, the environmentalist said.

The two hotels were obstructing the elephant corridors used by the remaining two elephants in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Now, the the people of Rambuka, Thanawela, Ellagama, Handiyekade, Kajugaswatte, Pothupitiya, Kopikella and Cypresswatte would have the elephans marauding their villages, the environmentalist said, adding that the residents of those villages would lose property and lives due to the hotels being constructed by obstructing the elephant corridors.

“Most of the forest areas surrounding the Sinharaja are to be annexed to the Forest Reserve because they are an important part of the forest network. These unscrupulous businessmen and politicians supporting them are attempting to carve out as much land as possible before these areas receive protected status. They are also doing their best to delay the declaration of these lands as protected areas.”

Chamikara said that the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) had the power to take action against those who carried out such illegal activities.

According to Section 23 (a.) (a.) of the National Environmental Act, when a project is carried out without environmental clearance, the CEA can produce such people before a magistrate’s court. If found guilty, a person can be fined up to Rs. 15,000 or imprisoned up to two years or subjected to both.

Chamikara said: “According to Article 27(14) of Chapter VI of the Sri Lankan constitution the state shall protect, preserve and improve the environment for the benefit of the community.” However, the CEA seems to have no interest in taking action against those who are building these hotels illegally. This is CEA’s attitude to almost all major environmental destruction that seems to be taking place these days.

“The government is silent when the Sinharaja forest is degraded and elephant corridors are closed by businessmen. The right to land seems to be a right reserved only for businessmen. We have the right to oppose these under article 28. (f) of the Constitution which states that we have a fundamental duty ‘to protect nature and conserve its riches.’ Article 28. (e) states that we also have a fundamental duty ‘to respect the rights and freedoms of others.’ Thus, we, the citizens have the right to oppose the illegal use of natural resources by powerful businessmen. If we do not oppose these moves as citizens, powerful businessmen will take over all our natural assets like they are doing at Sinharaja.”

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RDHS predicts Coronavirus spike in Jaffna over the weekend



By Dinasena Ratugamage

There might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna this weekend, A.

Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday. Dr. Kethiswaran made the prediction after 26 new cases were detected in Jaffna.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported from Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be locked down, he said.

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