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MONLAR alleges foul play in not testing imported fertiliser

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by Rathindra Kuruwita

A large quantity of Triple Super Phosphate (TSP) Fertiliser containing significant heavy metals had been released to the market, Chinthaka Rajapakshe, Moderator of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) alleged yesterday.

Rajapakshe told The Island that there was a high probability that the fertilizer currently released to the market were of low quality and high in heavy metals, as the National Fertiliser Secretariat had stopped testing samples at local labs, he added.

“Earlier, on March 30, 2020, the National Fertiliser secretariat informed companies that import fertiliser that due to COVID-19 Pandemic situation all of the laboratories which analysed fertilizer had been closed, and, therefore, the fertiliser samples could tested. The NFS has said that as ensuring food security is critical at this moment and an “internationally accredited laboratory analytical report is adequate to release imports to the market. 

“This has happened again last month,” Rajapakshe said

Rajapakshe said that the NFS directive was contrary to a number of policy decisions taken by the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration to encourage environmentally friendly agriculture. “For example on March 04, 2020, Secretary to the Ministry of Mahaweli, Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development, Neil Bandara Hapuhinna said they had instructed senior officials that they should prioritise reducing the use of artificial fertiliser. On March 30, Hapuhinna instructed officials to reduce the TSP Fertiliser as they contain significant heavy metals.”said.

The MONLAR Moderator said that releasing fertiliser based on a report submitted by the foreign export company was not a judicious policy. “Food security is important. But releasing low quality fertiliser that can be high in toxicity will not help anyone,” he said.

Repeated attempts to contact the Director of the National Fertiliser Secretariat failed.



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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