Govt. determined to have Muthurajawela listed as Ramsar Wetland
By Ifham Nizam
The Colombo City was declared the world’s first Ramsar Wetland by the Ramsar Convention due to efforts of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to conserve the wetlands during his tenure as Defence Secretary, said Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.
The City has been named the world’s first wetland city by the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and development of all wetlands such as Beddagana, Kotte, Bellanwila, Kimbulawala, Kolonnawa, Diyasaru and Diyatha Uyana as beautiful and safe wetlands. However, Muthurajawela was not included in the Ramsar wetlands catalogue.
Minister Amaraweera yesterday said that it was the intention of the government to have the Urban Development Authority to conserve the Muthurajawela Wetland Sanctuary under the supervision of the Ministries of Environment, Wildlife and Urban Development.
A committee appointed to look into the issues regarding the Muthurajawela Wetland Sanctuary held a discussion at the Ministry of Environment on Tuesday.
Representatives of all relevant institutions; Environment, Wildlife, Agrarian Conservation, Agriculture, Urban Development Authority, Central Environmental Authority, Forest Conservation as well as a delegation representing the Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith as well as several representatives of environmental organizations were present at the meeting.
During the discussion, the group requested that Muthurajawela be taken over and developed as a sanctuary under the Wildlife Department.
Although Muthurajawela is spread over an area of 3,064 hectares in 1990, only 1,200 hectares remained today. As a result, they would have to spend a lot of money to implement alternatives to the lands currently occupied by different people and the Ministry of Environment and Wildlife would not be able to spend such a large amount of money to acquire them, Amaraweera added. .
He however said that steps would be taken to conserve the wetland under the Urban Development Authority so that it could be included in the Ramsar wetland list.
The Minister instructed the delegation to submit its decision to the committee within a week regarding the decision taken by the government to conserve Muthurajawela.
SF claims thousands of police and military personnel leaving
By Saman Indrajith
Thousands of police and military personnel had left the services recently as they did not want to carry out illegal orders, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka told Parliament yesterday. According to the war-winning army commander 200 policemen have resigned during the past two months and 25,000 soldiers have left the army during the last two years.
“We urged the law enforcement and military officials not to follow illegal orders. We will reinstate them with back pay,” he said.
Fonseka also urged the President and the government MPs not to take people for fools.
“Sri Lanka owes 55 billion dollars to the world. Ranil’s plan is to borrow another seven billion during the next four years. So, in four years we will owe 62 billion to the world.
Ranil and his ministers ask us what the alternative to borrowing is. These are the people who destroyed the economy and society. They must leave. Then, we will find an alternative and develop the country,” he said, adding that the IMF loans had made crises in other nations worse.
“Ranil says that by 2025, we will have a budget surplus as in Japan, Germany and South Korea. These countries are economic power houses, and this comparison is ludicrous.”
CEB hit by exodus of technical staff
By Shiran Ranasinghe
At least five technical personnel of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) resigned daily for overseas employment, a senior CEB official said.They included electrical engineers, electricians and foremen, he added.
“Most of them are quitting due to the economic crisis while others are simply disillusioned. Trained and experienced technical staff are in high demand in many countries,” he said.
CEB United Trade Union Alliance President Ranjan Jayalal said that the CEB had lost about 2,000 employees in recent times due to the above reasons.
“We had about 24,000 such personnel a few months ago. Now the number has come down to 22,000. A number of people had to retire on 31 December, 2022.
Sajith questions sudden decision to charge Rs. 225,000 from students following NDES
By Saman Indrajith
The government had decided to charge Rs 225,000 from those enrolling at the Institute of Engineering Technology, Katunayake under the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said yesterday in Parliament.
Premadasa said that the institute awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences (NDES) and no fee was charged from students until 2023.The IET awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences under the three major fields of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, and eight sub-fields.
“This is an institute that has created over ten thousand tier two engineers. NDES is a four year programme,” he said.
The opposition leader said that the sudden decision to charge 225,000 rupees from students at a time when the average Sri Lankan family is facing significant economic challenges is unfair.
“This institute offered free tuition. We should continue this tradition. A large number of engineers are leaving the country and we need to ensure that we have a continuous supply of engineers to ensure we can maintain our essential technical services,” he said.
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