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Johnston summons consultants over delay in construction of a section of the Central Expressway



Highways Minister Johnston Fernando yesterday ordered that the heads of the consultative firms responsible for the construction of the Kadawatha-Mirigama stretch of the Central Expressway be summoned for an urgent meeting.

The Minister gave this order at a meeting at the ministry over a protracted delay in the construction of the Kadawatha-Mirigama section of the Central Expressway, ministry sources said.

 Two top officials attached to the project were also transferred with immediate effect yesterday.

 The Minister said that he had severely warned the officials twice but they had failed to sort out the inordinate delay.

 When the Minister called for a meeting of the heads of companies which provided consultancy for the phase between Kadawatha and Mirigama, he was informed that they were abroad, and the minister ordered the representatives of those companies to summon them within the next 30 days.

When asked for the information on locations of constructions being carried out, the officials were unable to submit them, ministry sources said adding that they had also failed to submit the list of contractors.

The Minister said that a firm that had been awarded the contract for the construction of the Kadawatha-Mirigama stretch of the Central Expressway by the yahapalana government had been removed recently for the slow progress in the execution of the project.  

The Minister said he had urged the contractors to expedite the project implementation.   

The contractors had been given a deadline of two and half years to complete the work. “The work on the project is extremely slow despite the payment of Rs 16.7 billion in advance,” the Minister said.   

 Minister Fernando has informed the contractors that the government would not pay anything extra if the contractors dragged their feet on the project.   

Secretary to the Ministry of Highways R.W. R. Premasiri also participated in the meeting.

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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?



… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.



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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others



The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.



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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area



Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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