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Govt. determined to have Muthurajawela listed as Ramsar Wetland

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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.

 

 



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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