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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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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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