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JVP Colombo municipal members urge govt. to provide slum dwellers with face masks

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JVP CMC member Hemantha Weerakoon flanked by fellow party councilors Mohamed Nishabdeen and Rohana Weerasinghe addressing the media in Colombo yesterday.

By Saman Indrajith

JVP Colombo Municipal Council members yesterday called on the government to provide people living in the slum areas of the city with face masks free of charge because they could not afford them.

Addressing the media in Colombo, JVP CMC member Hemantha Weerakoon said that people living in the Colombo city limits were a high risk group. “One third of the COVID-19 deaths have been reported from within Colombo City limits. Those living in slums are exposed to danger. Although the government instructs them to practice physical distancing they cannot do that because their dwelings are tiny.

About 100-120 families are living small areas called ‘wattes’. Most of the time, several families share a single toilet. It is not practical just to tell them to wear face masks, because they have no money to buy them. If the government at least provides them with facemasks the number of infected can be reduced.”

“One of the main reasons for the spread is the high population density in the Colombo city. Recently, there was PCR testing at Jampettah Street on 300 persons, and 176 of them tested positive.

Municipal Councilor Weerakoon said that around 200 CMC workers had been infected and their families had to undergo quarantine. “Soon, there will be a situation when we won’t be able to maintain Municipal services. Already collecting garbage has become an issue. In some cases drug addicts have been hired to collect garbage and there is the danger of the virus spreading through them.

JVP CMC members Mohamed Nishabdeen and Rohana Weerasinghe also addressed the media.



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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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