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Johnston: Why were vociferous unions silent when Hambantota Port was given to China?

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Chief Government Whip and Minister of Highways Johnston Fernando says that trade unions and civil society organisations now accusing the government of trying to sell off the Eastern Container Terminal of the Colombo Port to India were silent when the Hambantota port was sold by the former government.

Speaking to media after a meeting of the Kurunegala District Rural Infrastructure Development Committee at the Kurunegala District Secretariat Auditorium on Wednesday, Minister Fernando said that there would be no selling of the ECT to India as alleged by some opposition parties and their supporters.

“We will not sell the port.  The gang led by Sajith Premadasa messed up the port by signing agreements.  Their good governance has destroyed this country.  As a government we are cleaning up the mess they created.  The President has decided what is best for the people of the country.  Every project is implemented in the best way possible for the people and the country.  This is the reality. Protesters were also active during my tenure as the Minister in charge of Ports.  That is nothing new.  However, when the Hambantota port was sold by Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa’s gang, the vociferous trade unions were silent. If such a battle had been waged then when the Hambantota port was sold that vital state asset could have been saved.  It will be good if port shares are floated in our country’s stock market.  There is nothing wrong with that.  That’s a very good thing.  The President has promised not to sell this port.”

 

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Lawyers request CJ to decide if political victimisation PCoI report amounts to contempt of court

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by A. J. A. Abeynayake

Four lawyers yesterday complained to Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, requesting an investigation to determine whether the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, which probed political victimisation under the previous government, amount to contempt of court.

The four petitioners, Senaka Perera, Achala Seneviratne, Namal Rajapaksa and Thambiah Jeyaratnaraja have, in their complaint, stated they are of the view that the final recommendations of the Commission, which probed the period from January 8, 2015 to November 19, 2019, amounted to contempt of court and were inimical to the judicial system.

The lawyers have also requested that the Chief Justice pay attention to the recommendation by the commission that R. Duminda Silva be exonerated from all charges against him and the recommendation that Attorney General request that a full bench of the Supreme Court conduct a judicial review of the death sentence passed on Silva.

The lawyers pointed out that if an accused is not satisfied with a judgement delivered against him, he could request for a fuller bench to hear his case, but a third party cannot request a review of the verdict. The petitioners have also said that the Commission with its recommendations has caused an affront to the dignity of the court, its independence and the trust of the people.

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Amaraweera plans to ban certain types of plastic, polythene

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Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera examining some eco-friendly products that can be used in place of polythene and plastic.  Picture shows some such products.

Been there, heard that – environmentalists

By Ifham Nizam

The Environment Ministry yesterday reiterated that steps would be taken to ban the use of several types of plastic and polythene in the country from the end of this month.

Contacted for comment, environmentalists said that they had heard similar pledges to ban those products by previous Environment Ministers, but there had been no bans.

Previous Environment Minister Maithripala Sirisena, who even promised to ban asbestos besides harmful types of plastic and polythene had done absolutely nothing, they said adding that “He as the President of the country failed to ship back even the toxic garbage containers dumped here by the UK”.

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera yesterday said the items to be banned would include disposable polythene and plastic, PET bottles (Poly Ethylene Terephthalate), lunch sheets thinner than 20 microns, sachets, excluding Food and Drug packaging, cotton buds, and inflatable plastic toys.

Amaraweera said that the focus of businesses on new alternatives to plastics and polythene was seen as a way to protect the environment.

The release of excessive amounts of plastics and polythene materials into the environment caused environmental degradation, the Minister said.

The Environment Ministry is having discussions with various stakeholders to introduce eco-friendly alternative products.

Amaraweera last week had a meeting with several private sector entrepreneurs.

Some industrialists also presented to the Minister some of the eco-friendly products they were using.

Plans are afoot to prepare a list of several plastic and polythene products, to be banned from March 31. About 350 products would be banned before the end of the current year, the Minister said.

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Fishing cats victims of mistaken identify 

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Villagers kill them as they resemble leopard cubs

By Ifham Nizam

The killing of fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) is on the rise countrywide mainly because they resemble leopard cubs. They also end up as road kill.

The Sinhala term for fishing cats–– ‘Handun Diviya’––gives the jitters to many villagers who fear that the animals are leopards and a threat to them, according to researcher cum conservationist Chaminda Jayasekara.

Following the death of a farmer in a leopard attack recently, fishing cats are also being increasingly targeted and killed especially in some parts of the hill country.

“In some parts of Nawalapitiya, children fear to go out when word gets around that ‘Handun Diviyas’ were lurking in the vicinity,” Jayasekera said.

The killing of fishing cats happen primarily because some people assume that they could harm them as the animals are often misidentified as leopard cubs. This happens especially in the tea plantation areas due to the lack of knowledge of the species, Jayasekera stressed.

A large number of reptiles, small mammals and birds continue to perish on roads because when highways and other roads are built, only the safety of humans is taken into consideration, according to Jayasekera.

Naturalist cum author, Rajika Gamage yesterday told The Island that when highways were constructed here unlike in other parts of the world green highway concept was ignored. “There should be tunnels to give safe passage for small animals,” he said.

More than dozens of fishing cats were being killed recently in road accidents or in attacks by villagers, he too said.

A dead fishing cat had been found last week near the Log Hill tea estate belonging to the Mayfield estate in Kotagala, Hatton, Dimbula Police said.

Police believe the animal may have died in a road mishap.

 

 

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