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Now, Sirisena comes forward to protect endangered tree

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By Ifham Nizam

Former President Maithripala Sirisena has requested senior government authorities not to harm or dislocate a critically endangered tree, Sri Lankan Legume or Crudia zeylanica, in Gampaha.

Sirisena, who held the Environment portfolio in the yahapalana regime, on Sunday, met residents in Gampaha and had lengthy discussions on saving the endemic tree situated in the path of the new expressway.

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Movement representatives and villagers briefed the former president on the matter and invited him to have hoppers.

Sirisena assured that he would do his utmost to protect the tree and especially to ensure it remained where it stood.

“I believe that the government has responded positively as regards this matter and that a plan will be formulated to protect this species of flora,” the former president stressed

Wildlife and Forest Conservation Ministry yesterday requested the Highways Ministry to proceed with the construction of the Central Expressway, without disturbing the endangered tree.

Wildlife and Forest Conservation Ministry, Secretary, Bandula Harischandra yesterday submitted a request in writing to the Minister himself, to that effect.

The Highways Ministry is continuing to have further discussions with a team of experts. However, Highways Ministry Secretary, R. Premasiri told The Island that he was not in a position to comment until he read the content of the letter.

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said although it had been revealed that the Crudia zeylania or Pandu Karanda plant in front of the Daraluwa Railway Station in Gampaha was a rare plant, officials should have paid more attention during the planning of the construction of the expressway.

Either the Central expressway path should be changed while the plant remained in place or the plant should be removed without any damage and replanted in a suitable ecosystem nearby, he said.

The Environment Minister said that engineers who were constructing the expressway had pointed out that if the design of the road was changed, it would cost a huge sum of additional money and that amount had not been assessed yet.



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JVP accuses EC of conspiring to delay LG polls

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By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, has told Parliament that the Election Commission and its Chairman are collaborating with the government to postpone the local government elections.

Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023, on Friday, MP Dissanayake said that as local government bodies should be reconstituted before March 20 2023, the Election Commission had to publish a gazette calling nominations by late December or early January.

“The EC has the authority to do so. It has sought the Attorney General’s opinion on some matters. There is no need at all for it to seek the AG’s advice,” he said.

“This is a conspiracy. The Elections Commission can publish the gazette even tomorrow. It is clear that the Elections Commission is collaborating with the government,” he said.

Dissnayake said that Election Commissioner Nimal Punchihewa’s impartiality was in question. “We know where Punchihewa worked before and at what party office. We know the governments and persons he has worked with closely. He is not an independent person.”

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Diana wants bars open 24/7

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By Saman Indrajith

State Tourism Minister Diana Gamage says liquor outlets should be kept open longer if the country wants to boost tourism.Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023 on Friday, State Minister Gamage said: “We have to keep these places open 24/7. I have spoken about it many times. Liquor is the highest tax earner in the country. In this paradise, we are closing bars after 11pm. Foreigners in hotels can’t get any alcohol if they need, because all the places are closed.

We need to keep this country open 24 hours. Like Singapore and other countries, people must have entertainment.”

“I talk about the night life, and when I talked about that earlier many criticized it and saw it as a big sin. That is ones who are incapable of understanding it,” she said.

“What we call night life is actually a night economy. All the countries in the world have developed because of night economy. These countries get 70 percent of their income from the nigh economy. They only get 30 percent during the day time. We have to develop a night economy in this country. That will earn 70 percent of the income. Only that can develop this country.

“We can do that. And also our museum, that closes at 5 pm. In other countries, museums earn most during night. It must be opened 24/7.  This night economy is essential for a country’s economy. People must have places to spend their money.”

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SJB asks govt. to introduce political reforms fast

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has asked the government when it will introduce the political reforms demanded by the international community.

Speaking in Parliament on Saturday, Kiriella said that when the Opposition parties met the members of the Colombo-based diplomatic community during the Aragalaya protests, the latter had demanded that Sri Lanka implement political and economic reforms to receive foreign assistance to get out of the prevailing crisis. “That was six months ago. We have been asking the government repeatedly to inform this House whether it has implemented those reforms.

“The riginal plan was to establish an interim government for six months to restore the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. It was stated that an election would be held after six months. Now, what has happened? The politicians who are responsible for the crisis are still in power.

“Foreign Minister Al Sabry met USAID Administrator Samantha Power on Friday. Samantha Power called for the same political and economic reforms again. The international community is asking for the same.”

Leader of the House, Minister Susil Premjayantha said that political reforms were being implemented. “It is as part of the political reforms we are setting up a National Council, Sectoral Oversight Committees and three other committees. Counter terrorism act is in the pipeline. It will be taken up within couple of weeks. We passed several bills with your support. There were nine amendments to be introduced to the criminal law,” he said.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa: “The bills and amendments that have been passed are not enough as far as the international community and we are concerned. The biggest request is to allow the people of this country for a new mandate. Allow the people to express their will. Give them a chance to establish a new government or to maintain the same government now they have.”

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