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Farmers already brainwashed by agrochemical lobby – CEJ

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 70% of the artificial fertiliser used by Sri Lankan farmers ended up in water sources, Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Hemantha Withanage said yesterday.

“Sri Lankan farmers were given a considerable fertiliser subsidy and our farmers use four times the amount of fertiliser used by their regional counterparts. Successive governments have failed to establish a good extension service and farmers now depend on the advice of fertiliser and pesticide sellers. Sometimes they even use several pesticides at once,” Withanage said.

The farmers had been misled because Sri Lankan governments in the last 40 years had allowed the agrochemical industry to formulate our agricultural policies, Withanage said.

“Our farmers use excessive amounts of fertiliser for several reasons. Being exposed to propaganda is one, another serious issue is that tonnes of topsoil per acre, in certain agricultural lands in the central province, is washed away annually. This is because the farmers do not know about soil management,” he said.

Moreover, the hybrid seeds imported from countries, like Malaysia, needed chemical fertilis er. Export crops like tea also needed a lot of fertiliser.

“Making our agricultural organic is not easy or something that can be done overnight. Converting large scale tea plantations into organic farms is exceedingly difficult. In the last 45 years we have used so many toxins, soil in most agricultural zones are infertile. There are no natural bacteria or insects in these soils. It will take some time to restore the soil,” he said.

Withanage said Cuban farmers had told him that it took between three to five years to successfully introduce organic agricultural practices to a farm. The government must also look at restoring the diversity of our seed and plant varieties, the CEJ Executive Director said.

Sri Lanka, which once had 3,000 paddy varieties, 700 banana varieties and 60 kurakkan and gingelly varieties, now was left with only hybrid seeds in abundance, he said.

“We can’t import compost. Alien micro-organisms will enter the country and the impact of these new entrants will have devastating impacts. Importing urban waste is not a good idea because these contain a lot of toxins. We can’t win farmers over to organic agriculture by song and dance, the government has to send instructors who know about organic agricultural methods to farms,” he said.

CEJ Executive Director said that the yahapalana administration spent Rs. 250 million to promote organic agriculture. However, since there was no mechanism to educate and encourage the farmers, people became more skeptical about organic agriculture. The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government should be mindful of it and half-hearted and ill planned initiatives would only make people distance themselves further from organic agricultural practices, he said.

 

 



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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused

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By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.

 

 

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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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