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Lanka imports nano-fertiliser from India despite local scientist discovering the concept 10 years ago

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It is unfortunate that Sri Lanka has to import advanced nano-fertiliser from India although the Sri Lankan scientists invented it 10 years back, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura says..

Text of the media statement: “Sri Lanka is a country which was once considered as the “granary of the ancient east”; today we try to win back this status by making a paradigm shift in agricultural practices. “NANO” has become the buzz word among the people now. It’s unfortunate that we have to import advanced nano-fertiliser from India while our own scientists discovered the concept 10 years back!

 “Prof. Nilwala Kottegoda, Head of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and the team at Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC) developed a new nano-fertiliser product in 2010 and received four US patents at a time where nano-fertiliser was new to the scientific community. Thus, the technology for the production of efficient nano-fertiliser was introduced to the world about 11 years ago from Sri Lanka. This innovation was rated as a global first by the World Intellectual Property Organisation and Prof. Kottegoda was selected as one of the nine most inventive women scientists, based on this new concept.

“In this innovation, urea molecules were anchored onto biocompatible hydroxyapatite nanoparticles thus minimising the wastage of urea as gaseous emissions and water-soluble leachates. This new solid fertiliser contains 40% of nitrogen while supplying plant-available 6% phosphorus when applied to the soil. The efficacy of the fertiliser has been tested at the farmer field level for tea and rice. The field trials suggest that the new formulation reduces 25-40% nitrogen usage with a yield improvement of up to 20 %.  The process has been scaled up to pilot-scale production.

“Prof. Kottegoda’s research team at the USJ has further developed a greener process of nano-fertiliser production that has minimum energy, water, and environmental footprint. They also have explored a method to introduce other nutrients into the same formulation thus increasing its potential as a “mother of fertilizer”. This extended innovation has already received two patents belonging to USJ.

“Commercial production of high efficiency nano-fertiliSer has not yet commenced in Sri Lanka. But a leading fertiliser manufacturing company in India, anticipating the future value of the discovery, had purchased the technology in 2013 for commercial exploitation through the Sri Lankan government. However, patent rights are retained with SLINTEC. Therefore, Sri Lanka to this day, still has production rights over this product, meaning that the potential for Sri Lanka to become a manufacturing hub for this product does exist. But it’s unfortunate, today, the Sri Lankan government has to import nano-fertiliser from India at a huge cost.

“There is no action plan yet for the production of nano-fertilisers in Sri Lanka, which are highly efficient, economically viable and environmentally friendly”, said Prof. Nilwala Kottegoda.”



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Countrywide power outage act of sabotage, claim TU, officials

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Unions suspect sinister attempt to call in military

Engineers say technical fault caused power failure

CEBEU suspends work-to-rule protest

By Ifham Nizam

The government was trying to pin the blame for yesterday’s countrywide power outage on the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) trade unions in a bid to call in the military, Joint Trade Union Alliance Convener Ranjan Jayalal said yesterday.

Jayalal told The Island the government’s attempt would tarnish the image of the military and that of the country, but such intimidatory tactics would not deter the CEB unions from continuing with their action against the questionable agreement between the government and the US energy firm, New Fortress, which has been allowed to acquire a 40% stake in the Yugadanavi power plant. “The government is trying to derail our trade union action, scheduled for December 08. Definitely the power outage was an act of sabotage. Two units of the Norochcholai coal-fired power plant and the one at Sapugaskanda had failed,” he added, insisting that the trade unions had nothing do with the power outage. He said union activists had sprung into action to restore power despite their work-to-rule, for the sake of the country and its people.

A senior independent electrical engineer said the power failure was an act of sabotage or attempt at sabotage. “It could have been a rehearsal that misfired,” he added.

Electricity supply in several areas in Colombo and its suburbs were restored around 2.00 p.m. Subsequently, the power supply on Anuradhapura-Habarana, Laxapana-Athurugiriya and Kotmale-Biyagama transmission lines was restored. However, even at 5.30 p.m. most parts of the Gamapaha District experiencing power failures.

CEB General Manager, Eng. M R Ranatunga sand disruptions to the power supply could be considered sabotage. He said CEBEU activists had been dragging their feet on power restoration.

State Minister of National Security & Disaster Management Chamal Rajapaksa said necessary action would be taken against the CEB engineers if it was revealed that the power outage was an act of sabotage.

Major disruptions to the electricity supply were reported across the country around 11.30 a.m. yesterday owing to a breakdown in transmission lines.

The National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB) said the water supply in several areas of Colombo and suburbs had been disrupted due to the breakdown in the power supply as the NWS&D is dependent on the national grid for pumping purposes.

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) last night said it had received a favourable response from the government to its demands and therefore decided to suspend its work-to-rule campaign.

The Island learns that President’s Secretary Dr. P. B. Jayasundara will meet a CEBEU delegation, next week.

A senior electrical engineer expressed concern about CEB General Manager’s statement that the power outage was an act of sabotage by the engineers’ union. He denied as baseless the official’s claim.

CEBEU Secretary Dhammike Wimalarathne confirmed that his union had decided to suspend trade union action following an undertaking given by the government to have talks with them.

Meanwhile, CEBEU President Saumya Kumarawadu, addressing the media, yesterday, insisted that the power outage had been due to a technical problem.

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Chamal tells Parliament if power failure is due to sabotage, culprits will be dealt with severely

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By Saman Indrajith

Minister of Irrigation and State Minister of Internal Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management, Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that the government was investigating the causes of yesterday’s countrywide power outage and if it was due to sabotage those responsible would be severely dealt with.

Responding to a question by Anuradhapura District SJB MP Rohana Bandara Dissanayake during the third reading stage debate on Budget 2022 under the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Defence, the Minister said that the government would not tolerate sabotage.

MP Rohana Bandara Dissanayake said that while the national security was being debated in Parliament the entire country was experiencing a power outage which could be considered a serious threat to national security.

He said all reservoirs were brimful and there was sufficient water to generate hydro power.

Colombo District SJB MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said that the entire country was in dark and Parliament was sitting thanks to power supplied by generators.

Minister Rajapaksa said that the government had already called for an investigation and it would not hesitate to take necessary action on the findings of the probe.

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Committee on Public Finance meeting: one-third drop in next Yala harvest predicted

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Members of the Committee on Public Finance recently recommended that if the import ban on rice, which was imposed last April, is to be lifted, it should be done only after a proper forecast of the coming Yala harvest.

The Chairman of the Committee on Finance Anura Priyadharshana Yapa pointed out that under the prevailing circumstances, the interest of the paddy farmers and consumers had to be taken into consideration.

In response to MP Yapa’s comment, the Imports and Exports Controller General revealed that, according to the available data, the expected Yala harvest is likely to be only 2/3 as compared to last year.

MP Nalin Fernando pointed out that if businessmen were allowed to import rice freely, the business community would be tempted to import more rice than necessary, driving the paddy prices down and affecting the farming community badly. Hence, the Ministry of Finance should intervene to prevent the local farmer from facing difficulties. MP Fernando also pointed out to the officials of the Ministry of Finance that it was important to make rice freely available at reasonable prices. Sri Lankans did not like rice imported from neighbouring countries, he said.

The Committee on Public Finance was urged to obtain approval for an Extraordinary Gazette Notification permitting the importation of Kekulu, Nadu, Samba and other types of rice as per the order of the Minister of Finance. MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said officials had to investigate the macro economic impact of such orders given without a proper procedural or logical assessment.

The committee members inquired from the officials of the Ministry of Finance who were present at the Committee meeting whether the 2021 Budget forecasts could be fulfilled. According to the statistics and data submitted by the officials of the Ministry of Finance, the committee observed that if only local funds were used to repay all debts, there would be an increase in interest rates in the near future and that would adversely affect the local private sector, (Dr.) Harsha de Silva said.

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