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GL says O/L results will be out in June

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Results of the GCE O/L examination would be released in June, Minister of Education, G.L. Peiris said yesterday. The Minister, addressing a press conference, said that the exam would commence on March 01.  

This year 622,305 candidates will sit the OL examination to be held at 4,513 exam centres. Two special exam centres will be established in each district for COVID-19 affected students to sit the examination.

The Minister said the private candidates who had not received their admission cards could download them by accessing the department of examinations website.

The examination will be held from March 01 to 10. 



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Lokuge accused of overriding Covid-19 counter measures

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Piliyandala removed from isolation list: DGHS helpless

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Asela Gunawardena, who is the state authority for the national campaign against the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic, has acknowledged that his directive that Piliyandala police area be isolated on May Day was overridden.

Appearing on Hiru TV ‘Salakuna’ programme on Monday (3) night, Dr. Gunawardena admitted that the very basis of the mechanism in place to isolate areas threatened by the Covid-19 epidemic had been violated.

Dr. Gunawardena said so in response to ‘Salakuna’ anchor Chamuditha Samarawickrema repeatedly pressing the DGHS over the removal of the isolation directive issued effective at 6 am on May Day following Transport Minister Gamini Lokuge’s intervention. Samarawickrema sought an explanation as regards the removal of the directive at 5 pm and the subsequent isolation of five Grama Niladhari areas in the Piliyandala police area.

Samarawickrema pointed out to DGHS that politicians had been allowed to behave in a manner inimical to the entire national effort to counter the pandemic whereas the public and in some instances even the media were repeatedly criticized for not cooperating with government efforts.

Dr. Gunawardena recently issued a dire warning over the absence of sufficient hospital facilities in case the situation further deteriorated rapidly. The number of deaths reported till Monday stood at 709 with the country recording well over 1,000 new cases every day for about a week.

Responding to Samarawickrema, Dr. Gunawardena explained the mechanism in place to control the pandemic. According to the DGHS, the Medical Officer Health (MoH) responsible for a particular area brought the situation to the notice of the Provincial Authority who in turn alerted him. Once the DGHS decided to act on recommendation made by MoH and Provincial Authority, the Commander of the Army who is also the head of the Covid-19 Task Force General Shavendra Silva was informed, the DGHS explained.

Samarawickrema asked the DGHS how isolation of Piliyandala had been removed if such measures were taken in terms of scientific foundation as he mentioned.

In the wake of Samarawickrema challenging the DGHS to act on Minister Lokuge’s intervention, the latter promised to look into the matter.

Samarawickrema told The Island that he raised the issue at hand particularly against the backdrop of the government banning May Day rallies as part of the overall measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Samarawickrema said that Minister Lokuge had told the media, including Hiru that some persons on his staff, too, were tested positive. In spite of that the Minister accompanied by a group of people were on the move in the Piliyandala area, Samarawickrema said.

Responding to another query, Dr Gunawardena  said that he announced the isolation of Piliyandala on Hiru at 6.25 am on May Day. Then several hours later, another statement was received regarding the removal of the isolation directive, Samarawickrema said.

The Island didn’t receive a response to sms sent to Minister Lokuge and Dr. Gunawardena seeking clarification regarding the issue at hand.

Minister Lokuge was shown on Hiru main news bulletin Monday night assuring the Piliyandala electorate as the people’s representative he had a right to look into their grievances.

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Two companies play deaf and dumb on directives issued against use of polythene/plastic

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Two companies play deaf and dumb on directives issued against use of polythene/plastic

 

By Ifham Nizam

A new shampoo claiming to be nourishing, soft and smooth with egg protein is planning to hit the market in sachets format despite a ban on such packaging for shampoos.

Authorities are puzzled by the introduction of this shampoo in sachets when the Ministry of Environment has given strict guidelines to put an end to polythene sachet format packaging.

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera yesterday instructed officials to take up the matter with the multinational concerned and also to look into the possibilities of canceling their environmental licenses.

Environment Minister said that the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) would take immediate legal action against two companies for violating the gazette notification banning plastics and polythene.

The Environment Ministry has taken steps to ban several related products from March 31 with the aim of reducing the use of polythene and plastics here.

The CEA has taken steps to ban sachets made of polythene and plastics weighing less than 20 grams which do not belong to the category of food and pharmaceuticals.

Accordingly, the Minister of Environment has issued a gazette notification banning five types of polythene and plastic products.

Some companies have complied with the orders and stopped manufacturing their products in sachets. The disposal of some sachets discarded after use has caused a number of serious environmental problems.

The ban was implemented after an environmental study.

Despite the ban, two companies have been found to be violating the gazette notification. Although the gazette notification prohibits the production of sachets of less than 20 grams, one company continues to manufacture 24 grams of sachets using polythene and plastic.

It has also been reported that another company is still carrying out the relevant manufacturing activities in spite of the ban.

Minister Amaraweera has instructed the CEA yesterday to take all necessary steps against the two companies after discussions with all legal divisions, Ministry Secretary Dr. Anil Jasinghe said.

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Debate on Port City Bill will be held when SC conveys its decision – Govt.

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando told Parliament yesterday that the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill would be taken up for debate when the Supreme Court conveyed its decision thereon to the House.

“The Supreme Court decision has not yet been conveyed to the Speaker. Therefore, the party leaders’ meeting decided to put off the debate and to debate the prevailing situation and the pandemic instead on Wednesday. It was also decided to debate the Port City Bill on the first available day after the Supreme Court informs the Speaker of its ruling. The Supreme Court is bound to give its decision within 21 days,” Minister Fernando said.

Fernando said that there was no point in taking the matter up for debate without knowing the Supreme Court ruling.

Whenever a Bill was challenged in the Supreme Court its parliamentary process was delayed until the ruling of the court was conveyed to the House. “This is the tradition. The Opposition Leader and his MPs should know that. The Bill will be passed only after the debate. Today, you are asking us to conduct the debate without the Supreme Court ruling. It is sub judice until the court’s decision is conveyed to the House. In addition, what do you intend to say in the debate without knowing the Court’s ruling?”

Minister Fernando said: “There are many MPs and ministers in the government rank to speak on the Bill and to permit time to them we have decided to postpone questions time. We have also decided to hold the session from morning to 8.00 pm. Therefore, do not make wild allegations that we are running away from the debate. It is we who brought the Bill and we are ready to debate it. We are also awaiting to expose the lies of the Opposition in the debate. You have been lying about the Port City since 2015. You have been accusing us of a building a Chinese colony. The JVP said that not even the stones of the Sigiriya rock mountain would be sufficient for the Port City. That was in the same manner they raised allegations that the Southern Expressway was being built for the Rajapaksa family to bring curd to Colombo. Now, all those lies have been exposed. In the same way, we need this debate to prove you are wrong. We will hold the debate and will pass this Bill.”

The party leaders’ meeting chaired by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday (04) decided not to hold the debate on the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill today (05).

Instead, the adjournment debate on the country’s situation in the face of the Covid 19 would be held from 10.00 am to 4.30 pm without a lunch break, Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said.

Dasanayake said that the decision against holding the debate had been taken as Parliament had not yet received the determination of the Supreme Court with regard to the petitions filed over the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill.

After receiving the determination of the Supreme Court, party leaders would have to take a decision on when the debate should be held, the Secretary General said.

The Committee on Parliamentary Business decided on April 30 to hold this week’s Parliamentary sittings on May 04 and 05 only, due to the prevailing situation.

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