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More than 10,000 acres of forest already destroyed under present govt. – JVP

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National Committee Member of the SYU Sanjaya Wishwanath flanked by Colombo District Organiser Anjana Sampath Amarasinghe (Left) and National Organizer Eranga Gunasekera addressing media at the JVP headquarters in Pelawatte yesterday,

 

By Saman Indrajith

The JVP’s youth wing Socialist Youth Union yesterday alleged that around 10,000 acres of forests had been cleared since the new government came to power.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters in Pelawatte yesterday, National Organizer of the SYU Eranga Gunasekera said development did not mean increasing the number of concrete buildings at the expense of the environment. “We received information that Dahaiyagala forest in Thanamalwila was being cleared on Jan 30. Our members visited the area on Feb 20 and 21 and witnessed that around 1,000 acres had been cleared. We have videos and photos to prove that trees that are older than 75-100 years have been felled. According to villagers the jungle had been cleared to help a businessman who is building a resort in the jungle. Two acres in Anavilundawa Ramsar wetland site had been bulldozed. Ten acres of Vanathavilluwa jungle had been cleared up. We have information that 5,426 acres in the Galawalayaya jungle belonging to the Veddah people have been cleared. A crony businessman of the government has been given permission to grow aloe vera in 1,500 acres of Wilapattu jungle. Another businessman has been given permission to clear 150 acres in the Ratmale reserve in Horowpathana. Seven hundred acres of the Muthurajawela marshland jungle has been bulldozed. Two and half acres of Kurunegala Rajapeela forest have been cleared. Ten acres of another forest in Agundawa in the Sigiriya have been cleared by another government crony businessman. An extent of eight acres is being cleared in Gotiyagama in Sinharaja. Twenty one acres of Thabbowa jungle in Kruwalagaswewa have been destroyed in the name of development. Ten acres of jungle near Kodagoda in Thanamalwila have been cleared. Regional politicians and businessmen friends of the ruling party are engaged in this destruction.”

“In these cases the clearings have been done using bulldozers. Everybody knows that the villagers in nearby areas cannot afford to hire bulldozers and those jungle clearings have been done by very powerful politicians and their businessmen cronies,” he said.

 Gunasekera said that the incumbent government and its Viyathmaga group were critical of what the previous government had done. “The Vistas of Splendour manifesto promised to increase the country’s forest cover by 30 per cent but their acts are totally opposite of the promises they made,” he said

 National Committee Member of the SYU Sanjaya Wishwanath said that the past year would go on the records someday as the one which witnessed the highest number of destruction inflicted on the environment. “We are planning to line up the youth of this country against the environment destruction. We are planning to stage countrywide protests. We hope those who love the environment will line up with us to save the environment.”

Colombo District Organiser of SYU Anjana Sampath Amarasinghe also addressed the press.



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Appointment of GM led to CEB chief’s resignation?

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By Ifham Nizam

Amidst further deterioration of the power crisis, the Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) M.M.C. Ferdinando has tendered his resignation to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

In a letter to the President, the Attorney-at-Law said that he is quitting due to personal reasons. Ferdinando will resign as Chairman/Member of the Electricity Board with effect from Feb. 1.

Sources close to Ferdinando said that the incumbent CEB Chairman did not want to be in that position following the appointment of Eng. Dr. D.C.R. Abeysekera as CEB General Manager. Abeysekera received his letter of appointment from Ferdinando on Tuesday (25).

Abeysekera received the appointment at the expense of Dr. Susantha Perera, whose designation as the GM on a temporary basis was resisted by the engineers’ union as he is a retiree.

Retired public servant Ferdinando was brought in as the CEB Chairman on July 19, last year soon after Sri Lanka entered into what was called a framework agreement with the US energy firm, New Fortress Energy. The agreement now challenged in the Supreme Court was finalised on 17 Sept, last year with Ferdinando endorsing it as an Advisor to the Finance Ministry.

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UK indicates sanctions against Lanka military

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By Shamindra Ferdinnado

Close on the heels of UK Foreign Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad’s three-day visit here, the House of Commons has been told that measures were being contemplated as regards the Sri Lankan military.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Minister Amanda Milling has told Parliament that the government regularly engaged with the US and other partners on issues relating to Sri Lanka. She has further said: “The UK government keeps all evidence and potential designations under the UK Global Human Rights sanctions regime under close review, guided by the objectives of the sanctions regime. We would not normally speculate about future sanctions targets, as to do so could reduce their impact.”

The Conservative Party member was responding to Labour Party’s Siobhain McDonagh on Tuesday (25). MP Milling was responding to a query McDonagh posed to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Elizabeth Truss, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the sanctions imposed by the US on General Shavendra Silva of the Sri Lankan army.

The US in Feb 2020 imposed a travel ban on General Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Recently, the US extended its action against the Sri Lankan military by issuing travel ban on retired Maj. Gen. Udaya Perera.

The UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) has commended the British stand.

Concerned Lankan military sources said that the UK in its capacity as the leader of Sri Lanka Core Group at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was planning further measures ahead of the next human rights sessions.

UK based sources told The Island that that type of written parliamentary question was usually answered by a government minister from the FCDO.

Sources explained as this particular question dealt with Sri Lanka, the minister responsible was Lord Tariq Ahmad, but as he represented the House of Lords he couldn’t make statements in the Commons chamber.

Sources added that it would be rare that a question on Sri Lanka would be directly responded to by the Foreign Secretary Truss

Commons member Amanda Milling is Minister of State for Asia, therefore her portfolio closely matches Tariq Ahmad’s brief.

Incidentally, the FCDO now has a British Tamil in a senior position. Maya Sivagnanam is South Asia Deputy Director for the Indian Ocean Region at the FCDO.

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JCPSM token strike cripples hospitals in Western Province

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Strikers want Health Ministry to solve their problems within 10 days

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Joint Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (JCPSM) launched a 24-hour token strike yesterday (26) at 7 am at all hospitals in the Western Province. It consists of 16 unions.

The JCPSM has urged the government to address its members’s grievances including salary anomalies and issues related promotions. The strike had crippled hospitals in the province, Health Ministry sources said.

The JCPSM said emergency care, essential services and the treatment of COVID patients had not been affected by the strike.

President of the Government Nurses’ Association and former UNP National List MP Saman Rathnapriya said they had been urging the government to solve their problems for the past two months.

The College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) President, Ravi Kumudesh told The Island that they would end the token strike by 7 am today m(27) and thereafter give the government 10 days to address their demands.

“We will launch a continuous strike if the demands are not met within 10 days,” he said.

President of the Government Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) Dr. Rukshan Bellana said that most unions seemed to have lost the ability to solve disputes through negotiations.

“The unions have become too politicised, and the people are suffering as a result.”

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