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It will take months to clean beaches: Expert



Chairman of the local shipping agency arrested and granted bail

By Ifham Nizam

Sri Lanka would have to clean the beaches affected by the MV X-Press Pearl for months on end, senior environmental lawyer and Chairman of the Centre of Environmental Justice (CEJ), Ravindranath Dabare told The Island yesterday.

“The beach clean-up must go on. If you look at similar incidents in other countries, debris keeps piling up on beaches for months. We have to keep at it and that will cost money.”

Dabare said that the CEJ had filed a fundamental rights petition in the Supreme Court the previous week against the government and the operators of the MV X-Press Pearl, over the environmental damage caused by the ship disaster.

The Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA), Chief Attorney-at-Law Dharshani Lahandapura yesterday said a marine ecology team from the United Nations would shortly visit Sri Lanka to assess the environmental damages.

They will advise the MEPA and Central Environmental Authority (CEA) on future action to be taken with regard to the environmental destruction caused and the legal proceedings.

Lahandapura said the UN team comprised an expert in Toxicology and an expert in environmental damage analysis.

The Colombo High Court yesterday released on bail Arjuna Hettiarachchi, the chairman of the local shipping agency representing the ‘X-Press Pearl’. He was arrested by the CID. After being produced before the Colombo High Court Judge Damith Thotawatta releaased him on a cash bond of Rs 100,000 and two personal bonds of Rs 1 million each.

The judge barred Hettiarachchi from leaving the country. His passport was impounded. The judge further ordered the Immigration and Emigration Controller to refrain from issuing a new passport to the accused.

Hettiarachchi has been charged under the Marine Pollution Protection Act. Investigations carried out by the CID into the ‘X-Press Pearl’ incident have revealed that the local agent had deleted several e-mails exchanged with the ill-fated vessel’s captain.



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



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?



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



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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