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Great potential for expansion of rubber cultivation



There is a great potential for the expansion of rubber plantations in the country as the local production of the raw material is around 60 percent of the country’s requirement at present, Company Estate Reforms, Tea Estate Related Crops, Tea Factory Modernization and Tea Export Promotion State Minister Kanaka Herath has said.

The Minister made the observation during a field visit to monitor the progress of the Rubber Cultivation Expansion Programme being implemented in the Moneragala District.

With the mega scale investments in the rubber production sector including tyre manufacturing, the demand for local latex would increase day by day. It was proposed to commence operations in another large tyre manufacturing plant at the Hambantota industrial zone in the near future similar to the largest ever tyre manufacturing facility in South Asia, which commenced operations in Horana recently. Moreover there would be several other large scale private sector investments in the rubber sector in the country, the Sate Minister added.

He said that once operations commenced in those proposed factories there would be a huge scarcity in latex since only 60 per cent of local requirement of latex was produced in the country at present. This situation will result in increasing the price of rubber and latex.    

State Minister Herath said that with the emergence of those new industries, the demand for local latex production would be increasing rapidly and there was a great potential for the expansion of rubber cultivation and the rubber grower would be able to obtain very high prices.

Accordingly, the extent of rubber cultivation should be increased and the expansion of rubber cultivation in non-traditional areas has already commenced. Non-availability of lands is the major obstacles for expanding of rubber cultivation in the Kegalle, Kalutara and Ratnapura districts, which are the main rubber cultivation districts in the country. Due to this reason, rubber plantations are being expanded beyond the traditional rubber plantations of rubber triangular.

He further pointed out that there was a great potential to expand rubber cultivation in the Monaragala District and the surrounding areas due to climatic and soil factors as well as a large number of cultivable lands in the District.

A number of measures had also been taken to encourage rubber growers and, accordingly, the subsidy per acre for new rubber plantations had been increased from Rs. 500,000 to Rs. 750,000. Besides, Rs. 250,000 per acre would be offered for drip-irrigation.

Another Rs. 250,000 each would be provided to a grower for the construction of irrigation wells or tube wells to overcome the scarcity of water. In addition, various assistance, including cultivation advice, fertilizer subsidy and technical assistance were provided to rubber growers by the Ministry. the State Minister said.

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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for



By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time



State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.



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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30



The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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