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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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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman




Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand




At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night



President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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