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Karu: Army can help solve human-elephant conflict

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Fraudster functioning as Chairman of state institution

The Army must play an active role in solving the human-elephant conflict, former Speaker, Karu Jayasuriya, Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) told the media on Thursday.

Given that 70% of the elephant habitat were located in human-inhabited areas, Sri Lanka needed a well-planned methodology to deal with the human-elephant conflict, former Speaker, Jayasuriya said.

A lot of work on the issue had been already done by Sri Lankan researchers like Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya, Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando, Dr. AW Wijeratne and Supun Lahiru Prakash, Jayasuriya said.

Jayasuriya said that successive governments had ignored the proposals made by these experts and as a result, Sri Lanka had become the country with the highest number of elephant deaths in the world. Sri Lanka also had the second highest deaths of humans caused due to the human-elephant conflict.

“Various governments have promised to end the human-elephant conflict. But the problem is only worsening. Currently, 131 Divisional Secretariats in 19 districts in eight provinces are affected by the human-elephant conflict. Meanwhile, the conflict is rapidly escalating annually at a record rate.”

The human-elephant conflict can be seen from Hambantota in the South to the Madurankeni or Vadamarachchi East Divisional Secretariat at the Jaffna District in the North, Jayasuriya said adding that the findings of many world renowned Sri Lankan scholars who were respected and studied internationally but these scholars were ignored by decision makers in Sri Lanka.

“It is important to put up permanent electric fences as well as temporary electric fences around the paddy fields to protect settlements and cultivations against wild elephants. It is also important to carry out these activities through community based projects. At the same time, compensation for physical and property damage to the public must continue to be paid. As far as we know, no compensation has been paid for crop damage. Therefore, the government has to pay appropriate compensation for this damage. Also, in order to rid the country from this problem, an action plan needs to be planned at the national level.”

The former Speaker said that all relevant ministries and departments should be involved in solving the human-elephant conflict. A solution could be evolved through the active involvement of the Army as they did in the past during various disaster situations.

“A Presidential Task Force should be set up to provide the necessary facilities and guidance and oversee the implementation of an official plan. Only through such a joint process can the people of the country as well as the elephant resource be saved. We hope the government will pay attention to this.”

Jayasuriya said that a number of large scale frauds were being brazenly committed and that these large scale fraudsters should be brought to justice and punished.

“A person who resigned from his post because he was suspected of being either involved in or aiding such a massive fraud recently is working as the chairman of another institution which comes under the purview of the President. The government is not talking about the massive fraud of Rs. 10 billion that took place with his involvement. This is clearly a serious blow to the confidence that the people of this country have in the President. It will mar his reputation. He should understand that.”



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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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