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Professionals’ National Front urges AG to prosecute Rishad forthwith for forest destruction

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Section of the Kalluru Forest Reserve cleared by Bathiudeenax

The Attorney General should immediately take action against SJB MP Rishad Bathiudeen and others as the Court of Appeal, on Monday, determined that the clearing of part of the Kallaru Forest Reserve adjoining the Wilpattu National Park was illegal, Professionals’ National Front (PNF) yesterday said.

PNF General Secretary, Engineer Kapila Renuka Perera said that AG could initiate action under the Criminal Procedure Code and the Penal Code. “Legal action must be taken against everyone involved, including those who failed to carryout their duties. The government must also use this ruling as a precedent and take steps to deter others who desire to misuse natural resources, which belongs to all citizens, for their personal gain.”

About 2,500 acres of forest land had been cleared by Bathiudeen and his associates, Perera said, adding that the court had ordered Bathiudeen to pay for a forest replanting programme, which was to be carried out by the Forest Conservation Department.

The Conservator General of the Forest Department also had to calculate the cost of the tree planting programme and inform Bathiudeen of it within two months of the judgment. Bathiudeen will have to pay within one month.

Perera said: “The Conservator General must calculate the cost within the time given and they must not ask for more time for any reason. The government must also immediately remove the illegal settlers inside Kallaru Reserve and demolish the structures they are occupying. Steps must also be taken to ensure that the welfare of people is met.”

Senior lawyer Ravindranath Dabare, who filed the petition in 2015 on behalf of the Centre for Environmental Justice, challenging the destruction of the forest reserve, on Monday told The Island that the cost of replanting the large swath of forest land would be between Rs. 2 to 3 billion.



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Keheliya, seven others further remanded till 28th June

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The Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court today [14] ordered that former Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella and seven others be further remanded until June 28 by over the import of substandard human Immunoglobulin vials.

 

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President launches Public Learning and Education Platform for Sri Lankan Youth

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe officially launched www.publiclearn.lk a new education platform aimed at transforming Sri Lanka’s learning landscape at the Chamber Hall of the Presidential Secretariat, on Thursday [13]

Public Learn is a platform that guides users to free courses from the world’s top universities. .

Emphasizing the importance of adapting to a knowledge-intensive society, the President highlighted Sri Lanka’s strong educational results despite various systemic flaws. He noted that the new platform would enhance the education system’s effectiveness and stressed that Sri Lanka must swiftly advance in digitization to drive the new economic transformation.

President Wickremesinghe highlighted that the Public Learn platform serves as a crucial tool for enabling many Sri Lankans to advance personally and transform their nation. He reflected on Sri Lanka’s historical learning journey in three phases: first, during the era of Arahath Mahinda and the Pirivena system; second, with the introduction of the British public school system; and now, with the advent of digital education platforms like Public Learn, marking the third phase. He emphasized the importance of leveraging digital technology and knowledge to propel Sri Lanka forward in the digital economy, underscoring the need for continuous adaptation and innovation.

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Easter Sunday carnage: ‘Another probe nothing but an exercise in futility’

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Rev. Father Cyril Gamini

‘Implement PCoI recommendations at least now’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Catholic Church yesterday (14) reiterated its longstanding demand that the recommendations made by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) into 2019 Easter Sunday attacks be implemented.

Rev. Father Cyril Gamini Fernando said so when The Island sought the Catholic Church’s reaction to the appointment by President Ranil Wickremesinghe a new committee of inquiry to investigate the actions and responses of the country’s intelligence and security authorities following the intelligence warning received from India.

The committee is headed by retired Judge Ms. A. N. J. de Alwis. Rev. Fernando said that the government should implement the recommendations made by the PCoI headed by Supreme Court judge Janak de Silva. He said another inquiry would be nothing but an exercise in futility as the PCoI conducted an in-depth investigation into the Easter attacks, including the failure on the part of the intelligence apparatus to act on foreign intelligence as well neutralise the growing threat posed by extremist elements.

Rev. Fr. Fernando questioned the rationale behind re-examining the conduct of State Intelligence Service (SIS) and Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) as the Supreme Court in January last year ordered Senior DIG Nilantha Jayewardena and retired DIG Sisira Mendis, who headed the SIS and functioned as CNI, respectively, to pay compensation to the tune of Rs 75 mn and Rs 10 mn.

“What is there to investigate again?” Rev Fernando asked, urging the government to go through the PCoI recommendations in respect of politicians and security officials.

In addition to the PCoI report, the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee and a Special Investigation Committee of three members appointed by the then President Maithriapla Sirisena probed the Easter carnage, Rev Fernando said, adding that if those in parliament were still interested in justice and fair play should look into that matter.

Rev. Fernando urged the government to examine how successive leaders had responded to PCoI findings. When President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed a committee consisting of six MPs to look into the PCoI report and its findings soon after justice Janak de Silva handed over his report on Feb 1, 2021 it became clear that the powers that be would resort to old tactics. Nearly two years after President Rajapaksa’s ouster, the situation remained the same, Rev. Fernando said, adding that the Church wouldn’t give up its fight for justice.

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