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Letter of demand served over controversial release of 15 elephants



By Ifham Nizam

A letter of demand was served yesterday on the Attorney General’s Department, Cabinet Minister Wildlife, State Minister Wildlife, Ministry Secretaries, Chief Curator Pinnawala, Director General Wildlife and Director General Zoo over the controversial release of 15 elephants from state custody.

Attorney-at-Law and Notary Public K. Nimmi Sanjeewani yesterday submitted the letter of demand stating clients (1) Centre for Environmental Justice, (Guarantee) Limited (2) Mr. Athragoda Kankanamge Dilena the Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Justice both of 20A, Kuruppu Road, Colombo 08 (3) Ms. Panchali Madurangi Panapitiya of 565/4A, Mihindu Mawatha, Malabe (4) Ms. Maheshi Nanayakkara of No. 5, Jayanthipura Road, Battaramulla and (5) Ms.Wadduwage Visakha Perera Tillekeratne of No.73/12, Kirillapone Avenue, Colombo 05.

“I am instructed to state that on or around 06th of September 2021, the Learned Magistrate of Colombo Fort Magistrate Court and the Learned Magistrate of Matale Magistrate Court ordered the Director-General of National Zoological Gardens to release elephants that were in the custody of the Department of National Zoological Gardens as productions in Cases bearing Nos. B 23073/01/15 and B 941/14, respectively back to their so-called owners, upon the consideration of an application made by the Officer-in-Charge of the Special Investigation Unit No. 01 of the Criminal Investigation Department based on the Gazette Extraordinary No. 2241/41 dated 19.08.2021 issued under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended and on your instructions.”

Accordingly, 15 elephants which were held under the custody of the Department of National Zoological Gardens as productions were released back to those accused of illegally capturing them from the wild and keeping them in their possession under fraudulent documents and/ or without registering them in terms of the provisions of Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance No. 2 of 1937 as amended.

“I am instructed to state that the said application made before the Learned Magistrates for the release of productions of an unconcluded matter is contrary to the provisions of Section 6 (3)(c) of the Interpretation Ordinance No. 21 of 1901 as amended.”

Furthermore, Regulation 19 of Gazette Extraordinary No. 2241/41 dated 19.08.2021 specifically states that the Registration and Licensing of Tuskers and Elephants Regulations, 1991 published in the Gazette Extraordinary No. 662/4 of 14, May 1991 is rescinded without prejudice to anything previously done there under.

“This not only worsens the plight of elephants that were illegally captured from the wild but also undermines every effort made by conservationists and wildlife advocates to protect the country’s dwindling elephant population. However, should you fail to respond to this demand as to what action/s you propose to take in keeping with the statutory cum constitutional duty imposed upon you and/or your department, pleased be informed that not only would my clients regard the content of this letter having been admitted but also that it would be construed by my clients in law as inaction on your part and your department and a refusal to perform your said statutory cum Constitutional duty which would compel my clients to seek and pursue appropriate legal action in an appropriate judicial forum for which I have instructions to institute on their behalf.”

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Keheliya turns down request for abolishing price control on medicine



Industry leader has sought court intervention

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella yesterday (17) said that in spite of difficulties caused by the foreign currency crisis price control on imported medicines couldn’t be done away with.

Abolition of price control on drugs would heap an enormous burden on the vast majority of people, Minister Rambukwella said.

Lawmaker Rambukwella said so when The Island sought his response to the Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) requesting the government to do away with price control. Claiming that the grouping imported over 80 percent of medicines into the country, the SLCPI recently warned of possible collapse of the industry unless remedial measures were taken swiftly.

Minister Rambukwella said that recently he met an SLCPI delegation at their request to discuss issues at hand. “Of course, I understand the difficulties experienced by all sectors, including the pharmaceutical trade. However, price control as regards medicine cannot be done away with,” Minister Rambukwella said.

The SLCPI has pointed out to the Minister that at the moment medicines were the only commodity under price control in the local market. The Health Minister asserted that it wouldn’t be fair to compare the medicine with other commodities.

Minister Rambukwella said that regardless of constrains, the government was trying to ensure uninterrupted supply of medicine and it wouldn’t be fair to do at this juncture.

In a statement sent to the media SLCPI asserted: “There is no solution to this dilemma than removing the price control of medicines and implement a fair and equitable pricing mechanism which will link the price of medicines to the dollar, inflation and direct costs such as raw material, fuel and freight charges, which will then make importing and marketing of medicines viable. As difficult as it may sound, the authorities will have to choose between having medicines at a cost and not having medicines at all.”

The SLCPI has already sought the intervention of the courts to establish what the grouping called a transparent pricing mechanism outside government price control.

Recently, Minister Rambukwella, at a meeting also attended by State Minister Dr. Channa Jayasumana called for a report on the requirement of medicines over the next six months. The Health Ministry declared that there was no shortage of drugs whereas SLCPI claimed some drugs were in short supply and the situation could get worse.

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Central Expressway: Rs 3 mn raked in within 12 hours



Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said yesterday that about three million rupees had been earned by way of toll within the first 12 hours of the opening of the second phase of the Central Expressway.

Rs 2,805,100.00 had been paid by the expressway users during the first 12 hours from 12 noon to midnight Sunday (16) after its opening by the President and the Prime Minister on Saturday (15).

The Minister said that during the first 12 hours of the period of toll collection, a total of 13,583 vehicles had traversed the most  scenic road stretch in the country between Mirigama and Kurunegala. No traffic accidents had been reported during the 12 hour period.

Minister Fernando said that the newly opened road had been allowed to be used by the public free of charge for 12 hours from midnight Saturday (15) to Sunday (16) noon.

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President to inaugurate second session of Ninth Parliament today



by Saman Indrajith

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is scheduled to commence the second session of the Ninth Parliament today at 10 am with his third Presidential policy statement (formerly Throne Speech).

He made his first ‘Throne Speech’ on Jan 3, 2020, opening the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament and the second on Aug 20, 2020 to open the First Session of the Ninth Parliament.

Secretary General of Parliament, Dhammika Dasanayake said that MPs have been requested to arrive at the parliamentary complex at 9.25 am the latest.

The MPs, if accompanied by their spouses will alight from their vehicles at the Staff Entrance of the parliamentary building, while all other MPs are requested to drive up to the Members’ Entrance.

To facilitate orderly arrival, the MPs are requested that the Car Label provided them with be pasted on the inside top left-hand corner of the windscreen of their vehicles. On arrival at Parliament, Members’ vehicles would be directed by the Police to the appropriate Car Park.

Thereafter the MPs are requested to enter the lobbies of Parliament and to remain there until the Quorum Bells are rung.

President Rajapaksa is scheduled to arrive at the Main Steps of the Parliament Building at 9.40 a.m. and he would be received by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and the Secretary-General of Parliament.

The President will be escorted by them to the Parliament Building. Thereafter, the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament will escort the President to his Chambers.

At 9.55 a.m. the Quorum Bells will be rung for five minutes and all Members will take their seats in the Chamber of Parliament.

The President’s procession will leave for the Chamber of Parliament and will enter the Chamber at 10.00 am. On entering the Chamber the President’s arrival will be announced whereupon all Members will stand in their places until the President reaches the Chair and requests the Members to be seated.

Thereafter, the Proclamation proroguing the Parliament and Summoning the Meeting of Parliament will be read by the Secretary General of Parliament. Then, the President will address Parliament.

After his policy statement the President will adjourn the House until 1.00 p.m. on Wednesday (19).

Thereafter, the President will leave the Chamber escorted by the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament.

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