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President instructs officials to understand problems of people




President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that all farmers will be given permission to continue with traditional cultivations without any hindrance until the problems they experience are resolved.

The President took this decision taking into consideration issues raised by the farmers who attended the 6th ‘Gama Samaga Pilisandara’ programme Saturday at Medirigiriya in the Polonnaruwa district.

The President directed the officials of all institutions including Wildlife, Forest Conservation, Environment and the police not to hinder the traditional cultivation activities, the President’s media division states.

“However, the President emphasized that no one was allowed to clear the forest and cultivate it.

“Polonnaruwa is one of the districts in the country threatened most by wild elephants. The President instructed the officials to understand the problems people have been facing for a long time and implement both the construction of trenches and erection of electric fences as a permanent solution.

“The people pointed out the damage caused to the education of the students due to the stalled development work of many schools in the district.

“President Rajapaksa instructed the authorities to expedite the completion of all stalled development work in all schools in the country.

“The President took these decisions while participating in the “Chat with the Village” programme held at Wedikachchiya Village, Medirigiriya, Polonnaruwa on Saturday (16).

“This is the sixth in a series of “Conversations with the Village” programme launched by President Rajapaksa.

“The programme was launched on September 25, 2020 in the Badulla District. Five programmes were organized covering Matale, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura, and Ampara districts.

“The President met the people in the remote villages outside the city who had not been given due attention so far and immediately inquired about their problems and drew the attention of the officials to provide solutions.

“Problems that could be resolved quickly were resolved, and issues that would take time to resolve were noted to be addressed later.

“Wedikachchiya village which belongs to the Medirigiriya Divisional Secretariat area about 45 km away from Polonnaruwa town belongs to the “D” zone of the Mahaweli Development Scheme.

“Consisting of the villages of Samagipura, Darshanapura, Dahamwewa and Peramaduwa, Wedikachchiya village covers 79 square kilometers and home to a population of 2561 from 723 families. Agriculture and self-employment are the main livelihoods of the people in many surrounding villages, including Wedikachchiya.

“One of the major problems faced by the villagers is that paddy cultivation has to be restricted to the Maha season only due to lack of water. Therefore, they have to leave the village during the Yala season and engage in any hired labour available.

“The President stated that new houses will be built to replace the existing ones in Wedikachchiya village which does not even have the basic facilities.

“The district’s political authority and officials were instructed to take immediate steps to repair canals and tanks and provide irrigation water to both seasons as a solution to the long standing cultivation problem of the villagers.

“People also pointed out the damage caused by deer to crops in the Medirigiriya – Vatadage area. As a solution, it was decided to build a net fence around the deer habituated forest area. North Central Province Governor Mahipala Herath agreed to provide funds for the project.

“The President emphasized the need to create vocational training opportunities for students who complete the GCE (A / L) examination. President Rajapaksa said the State Minister in charge of the subject would be made aware of this and vocational training opportunities would be created.

“The President paid special attention to the drinking water needs of the area. He instructed the officials to complete the construction of a water treatment plant near Kaudulla Wewa and provide water to 10,000 families by the end of 2021.

“The President instructed electricity officials to provide “solar power systems” free of charge to schools and low-income families who are unable to pay their electricity bills.

“It was directed to rectify the shortages in schools and hospitals in the area and to expedite the development of a number of main and by-roads.

President Rajapaksa also inaugurated the Bisopura Mahaweli Primary School in Medirigiriya in parallel to the ‘Conversation with the Village’ programme. The President invited former President Maithripala Sirisena, who spearheaded the construction of the college, to open it.

“The President handed over two computers donated by SLT, Mobitel and a television set donated by Dialog to the Principal.

“Former President Maithripala Sirisena, State Ministers Roshan Ranasinghe, Siripala Gamlath, Member of Parliament Amarakeerthi Athukorala, Governor of the North Central Province Mahipala Herath, Chief Adviser to the President Lalith Weeratunga, People’s Representatives, and Secretaries to Ministries joined the programme.

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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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