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New concept launched in SL on managing Covid-19 waste



Consumption patterns or what people consume and how they do it on a daily basis are determined with the social changes that take place over time. These changes impact our environment as well. The waste generated on a daily basis is the result of our own consumption patterns which affect our environment.

Natural disasters we face from time to time as well as social changes resulting from epidemics have a correlation with the waste generated. The Covid-19 epidemic, which is spreading around the world today, is a classic example. It has drastically changes the lives of people around the world.

As the use of masks, gloves, sanitizers and personal protective clothing becomes an essential part of everyday life, tons of such items are discarded after daily use. This special waste, or simply stated as Covid waste (or pandemic waste) is different from other types of waste as it is dangerous as well.

Due to the high percentage of single use plastic found in Covid waste, it does not decompose easily in the environment and t therefore accumulates. Such waste can be considered clinical malignancy under the pandemic condition as such items are associated with direct personal contact.

This means that such waste is no longer appropriate to be handled with municipal waste. Informal mixing of this waste with urban waste poses a serious health problem for persons involved in waste management. The health risks of open disposal should not be underestimated.

Covid waste, which is a new experience to the world, has now posed serious environmental issues. It was estimated that in 2020 alone, 56 billion face masks were used worldwide and 1.56 billion have ended up in the ocean. It is difficult to estimate the quantity of masks which has been properly disposed. However we will have to suffer the consequences of blocked drainage systems if these are not disposed in an appropriate manner.

Also, Covid waste that has been discharged to the ocean through inland drainage systems has posed a severe threat to the entire marine environment. It is the responsibility of all citizens to save the environment from this situation. Understanding the safe collection of disposable personal protective equipment after use as well as the scientific disposal of such items are important.

A new concept was launched in Sri Lanka to find a solution to the problems encountered in the management of Covid waste under the leadership of Mrs. Dharshani Lahadapura, Chairperson of the Marine Environment Protection Authority with Sisili Hanaro Encare Pvt Ltd., which provides clinical waste management services with the highest environmental protection ensuring scientific management of clinical waste.

The inaugural management program was held on January 5 at the Marine Environment Protection Authority Headquarters under the patronage of its Chairman Dr. Terny Pradeep Kumara and Chinthaka Abeysekera, CEO. Yasantha Gumarathna, General Manager representing Encare partnered the event. The Heart Aid Center, the first and only center in Sri Lanka to offer Enhanced External Counter Pulsation Therapy (EECP) for cardiovascular patients with other cardiac services sponsored the event.

The ‘Let’s Cleanup and Treat-Up’ is a program which allows everyone to contribute towards proper disposal of this new waste category. It is designed in an effective manner deviating from the traditional waste collection campaigns. Scientific management of waste is an expensive task and institutional sponsorships are essential for the project.

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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for



By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time



State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.



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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30



The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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