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Kirielle asks President to visit his Hantane property and see if there has been any environmental damage

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella yesterday said that he was ready to give a land belonging to him at Hantana for an environmetnal project of the state and extended an open invitation to the President, government officials and media to come and see for themselves or to hold an investigation on the ownership of the land.

Addressing the media at the Opposition Leaders’ office in Colombo, MP Kiriella said that the President at a recent meeting had spoken about the land in Hantana, claiming that none was talking about clearing forest in Hantana area by a senior minister of a former government. “Nobody talks about it because there was no environmental destruction. If there had been destruction of the environment, the media and environmental organisations would have already been there. I invite the President and his officials or any organisation with an interest including the media to come and see what really this is about,” MP Kiriella said.

 He said: This is a land of which the documents are older than 100 years. We have the ownership for 30 years and prior to that it belonged to white men for 70 years. Tea and pepper had been cultivated there but it had been abandoned for years in recent times, as I had no time to attend to them because of my active politics. The land comes in the area of Hantana Reserve that was declared in 2010. This is a land where tea and pepper had been cultivated about 90 years back. In the 1980s I even applied to cultivate tea to the Tea Smallholding Authority. Although the Hantana area was declared a reserve we do not lose our ownership. Any such land could be cultivated but it should be informed to the Hantana Committee under the chairmanship of the district secretary. When there was an agricultural drive under the present government, I instructed my family members to see whether we could start cultivating that land. They removed the shrub to enter the land and it is now being described as clearance of forest. Anyone has a right to enter his or her land in this country. None can prevent a rightful owner of a land entering his or her land and there is no need to get prior permission to it.

“I and my family members do full time politics so we are not disturbed by allegations, but there is a duty for the media to find the truth. There are 12 buildings in a land adjacent to my land and five of them have been constructed after 2010. Those buildings have not yet even been registered in the Pradeshiya Sabha and they do not even pay rates.

“Before 2015, I offered to donate this land to a bhikkhu from Weliweriya to build a monastery there. Ven Bhikkhu visited the land but pointed out that he would not have the environment of a temple there because there is a holiday resort in the adjacent land. I have no desire for this land which I have once offered to the Maha Sangha. We are a family that has thousands of acres of land. We still have Sannasa given to our great great grandfather Kirielle Jayasekera Mudiyanse by King Keerti Sri Rajansinghe in 1761 giving him 10,000 acres of nindagam for his services to capture several Dutch fortresses in the Southern province. My wife’s grandfather is the Mahawalatenna Rate Mahattaya of Balangoda who owned thousands of acres. Some of those lands were taken over by the government under the land reform laws leaving 50 acres. So we are not a family that has a craving for lands.

I am ready to discuss with the government to offer this land for an eco-sensitive project. There is no point in talking in air-conditioned rooms about environment protection. I therefore invite you all to come and see for yourselves the truth.

 

 



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Facilities for infected pregnant women inadequate – SLCOG

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The distribution and availability of high-flow oxygen machines to treat Covid-19 infected pregnant women were not adequate, President of the Sri Lanka College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (SLCOG,) Dr. Pradeep de Silva said yesterday.

Dr. de Silva said that while they had not yet faced any lack of oxygen in treating Covid-19 infected pregnant mothers, things could change rapidly given the limited availability of equipment. “Having an adequate supply of oxygen alone is not enough. You need high flow oxygen machines, and 50 litres of oxygen per minute is needed to operate a high flow oxygen machine. I do not know how many machines we have in this country but where I work, Castle Street Maternity Hospital has about four. We need to estimate the number of these machines we require and how much oxygen we want. From my understanding, the distribution and availability of high flow oxygen machines to treat Covid-19 infected pregnant mothers is not adequate.”

Dr de Silva said that Sri Lanka needed about 50–200 high-dependency unit (HDU) beds per district, based on the population, 10–50 high flow oxygen machines per district, four for ten ICU beds and two dedicated Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machines.

“If we get this, we will be able to deal with pregnant women who develop complications from COVID-19 for the next four to five years,” he said.

Dr de Silva said that currently one pregnant woman who has been infected with COVID-19 is receiving ECMO treatment. There is also a shortage of beds at the Mulleriyawa Base Hospital, which has the largest ward dedicated to COVID-19 infected pregnant women. On Thursday, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Dr Mayuramana Dewolage, who heads the ward that treats COVID-19 infected pregnant women at the Mulleriyawa Base Hospital, said that they only had 37 beds were dedicated to pregnant women with COVID-19. They didn’t have any HDU or ICU beds dedicated for their use, he said.

“We share HDU and ICU beds with other patients at Mulleriyawa Base Hospital,” Dr Dewolage said.

The President of the SLCOG also urged all hospitals to find a separate space for pregnant women who were receiving treatment at their institutions. When COVID-19 pandemic started, the Health Ministry instructed all hospitals to do so but it was now obvious that those instructions had not been followed, he said.

“When the second wave started people got ready but later, they just stopped getting ready and now we are unprepared to meet the challenges of the third wave. We need to find a way to manage this. If the Ministry of Health has not prepared a plan, we are ready to help formulate one,” the President of the SLCOG said.

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Those who had AstraZeneca first jab, should take Sputnik V with adenovirus 26 – Specialist

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

If those who have taken the first dose of AstraZeneca are to receive a second jab of Sputnik V, they should take the first Sputnik V vaccine with adenovirus 26 (Ad26), Consultant Immunologist and head of the department of Immunology-MRI, Dr Nihan Rajiva de Silva says.

Dr. de Silva said that the first dose of Sputnik had Ad 26 and the second had adenovirus-5. “Adenovirus-5 is common. We may have been exposed to that and we may have developed antibodies. Adenovirus-26 is rarer and we will better respond to that. That is why the vaccine-maker has used adenovirus-26 in the first vaccine. So, if you had a first jab of AstraZeneca and you are to get the second dose from Sputnik-V remember to get the first jab,” Dr. de Silva said.

He added that any vaccine has the chance of reducing the severity of the virus and that the general public should get vaccinated when the opportunity is available.

Dr. de Silva said that there was a shortage of AstraZeneca vaccines because the Serum Institute of India could not deliver shipments as promised.

“However, we are now getting Sputnik V vaccines and we are looking at mixing them. There is a study in Russia about the efficiency of mixing Sputnik V with AstraZeneca and the results should be out soon. I can say that theoretically mixing the two vaccines should work,” he said.

Dr. de Silva added that the AstraZeneca vaccine should work against the new variant spreading in the country.

Consultant Cardiologist at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Dr. Gotabaya Ranasinghe said that those with heart issues, non-communicable diseases and were obese must get vaccinated to minimise the complications of Covid-19.

Dr. Ranasinghe said that those in the above-mentioned categories were at risk of contracting, getting complications and dying of COVID-19 and research had proven that vaccination would reduce the chance of such eventualities.

“If you worry about getting vaccinated, talk to your doctor. Don’t seek advice from friends and family,” he said.

Dr. Ranasinghe added that they had limited the number of heart surgeries they do due to COVID-19. ICU beds used for heart patients too were being now allocated for COVID-19 patients. “We only do the most pressing cases. But this means that the waiting list keeps on growing. Now, the waiting list is over eight months. If we limit the surgeries more and keep taking away ICU beds available for those who have had heart surgeries, the waiting list will grow further,” he said.

The Consultant Cardiologist also advised the public to eat healthy food and engage in moderate exercises, at least five days a week. This will reduce the mental stress as well as boost the immune system. ‘We recommend moderate exercises like jogging and brisk walking, for 30 minutes, five days a week. Being healthy is as important as wearing masks or adhering to physical distancing,” he said.

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STF raids narcotics distribution centre close to Bloemendhal police station

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Acting on information received from the Organised Crime Fighting Unit of the elite Special Task Force (STF), police commandos, on Thursday (6), arrested a person running a narcotic distributing network, 1.5 km away from the Bloemendhal police station.

The STF identified the suspect as Thawasidevan Pradeep Kumar, 21, a key associate of one Suresh with links to a criminal outfit run by Kimbulaele Guna, now absconding in India.

DIG (Legal) Ajith Rohana said that the raiding party had recovered 2 kg, 22 g and 88mg of ‘ICE,’ with a street value of Rs 25 mn in addition to 4kg, 2 g and 527 mg of substance known as ‘hash,’ as well as Rs 400,000 in cash and a mobile phone.

Kimbulaele Guna is believed to have sought refuge following an LTTE attempt to assassinate President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga at the final PA presidential election rally at the Town Hall in December 1999.

DIG Rohana said that Guna’s brother Suresh was a major heroin distributor in Colombo. The STF later handed over the suspect, along with contraband and locally made ‘hash,’ and his phone to the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB). The raid on the heroin distribution centre situated in Aluth Mawatha, Colombo 15, followed specific information received as regards the ‘operation’ conducted with impunity (SF)

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