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President halts construction of road skirting Sinharaja

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By Ifham Nizam 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered the suspension of the construction of a road between Neluwa Lankagama and Pitadeniya , skirting the Sinharaja rainforest. Environmentalists who were up in arms welcomed the presidential action.

Convener of the Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka, Jayantha Wijesingha congratulated the President for his prompt decision.

The Centre for Environment and Nature Studies (CENS) on Sunday sought President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s intervention to prevent the construction of a concrete road through the Sinharaja forest.

CENS Convener Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam said that construction  of access road to Sinharaja had destroyed the biodiversity of the vicinity.

He told The Island that the government should stop the project completely.

Some 1.5km stretch of the 32km road had been completed by Sunday. According to Kariyawasam, although the width of the road was to be eight feet, in some places it was as wide as 20 feet.

Road Development Authority (RDA) Chairman Chaminda Athuluwage has said that if there is any issue regarding the project, that can be discussed.

The construction work to expand the road bordering the Sinharaja Forest commenced during the first week of August.

The Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) has written to Secretary, Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Conservation M.K.B. Harischandra and Secretary, Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe about the serious threat due to the illegal expansion of the road between Neluwa to Deniyaya via Lankagama by the Army personnel on the instructions of the RDA. Lankagama is a village located within the Sinharaja rain forest, which has now exceeded its boundaries beyond limits, CEJ Executive Director Hemantha Withanage said.

“We have learned that the road expansion is already causing many disturbances to the forest including illicit felling, removing soil and dumping it on slopes.”

According to Withanage the road widening would destroy many trees and important habitats including 38 large trees.

 



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Six member committee appointed to inquire into Sri Lanka Cricket Team’s conduct in Australia

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Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe has appointed a six member committee headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena to inquire into the incidents reported against some members of the Sri Lanka Cricket team that participated at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

 

 

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SJB MP: Most parents have to choose between food and children’s education

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By Saman Indrajith

Most Sri Lankan parents are compelled to choose between food for their families and their children’s eduction, SJB Matale District MP Rohini Kumari Wijerathne told Parliament yesterday.

Only a few parents were able to feed and educate their children the MP said, participating in the debate on Budget 2023 under the expenditure heads of Ministries of Education and Women and Child Affairs.

“An 80-page exercise book costs Rs. 200. A CR book costs Rs 560. A pencil or pen costs Rs 40. A box of colour pencils costs Rs 570 while a bottle of glue costs Rs 150. If the father is a daily wage earner he has to spend one fourth of his salary on a box of colour pencils for his child. A satchel now costs around Rs 4,000. A pair of school shoes is above Rs 3,500. The Minister of Education knows well how many days a child could use an 80-page exercise book for taking notes. Roughly, stationery cost is around Rs 25,000 to 30,000 per child, MP Wijerathne said, adding that only Rs. 232 billion had been allotted for the Ministry of Education by Budget 2023.

“After paying salaries of teachers and covering officials’ expenses, etc., there will be very little left for other important matters,” the MP said, noting that Sri Lanka would soon be known as the country that made the lowest allocation of funds for education in the South Asian region.

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All crises boil down to flaws in education system, says Dullas

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By Saman Indrajith

All the crises Sri Lanka was beset with were due to the country’s outdated education system, MP Dullas Alahapperuma told Parliament yesterday.

“The political and economic crisis we are facing is the direct result of our education,” he said.

The Sri Lankan education system had not changed with global developments. Our system is not even geared for employment. Our examination system is antiquated and our classrooms are in the 19th Century.

However, the students belong to the 21st century. How can you cater to 21st Century children under an outdated system?” he queried.

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