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Rape of Muthurajawela continues despite Minister’s promises



By Ifham Nizam

More than 4,000 wells had been affected due to pollution in and around the Muthurajwela Wetlands Sanctuary, Member of the Archbishop’s Committee and environmentalist Dinusha Nanayakkara said.

“More than 100 factories have been set up here without any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), resulting in water, air and noise pollution,” he told journalists during a field visit on Tuesday.

Nanayakkara, who is a resident of Bopitiya, Nugapitiya, said politicians, underworld figures and officials had joined hands in clearing, demarcating and filling sanctuary lands for real estate speculators.

The media team witnessed a bridge put up by land grabbers.

Nanayakkara also questioned the basis as it was said that only the Urban Development Authority (UDA) was capable of securing the wetland as both the UDA and the Department of Forest Conservation were state institutions.

Out of the 1,284 hectares, 500 hectares had been targeted by various groups, and 700 hectares had been destroyed within the past 20 years. With the current trend the remaining area would be cleared within two months, Nanayakkara added.

The Director, Centre for Environmental Justice, Janaka Withanage told The Island  that due to four different cases pending in courts at present, some property business organisations were taking advantage of loopholes.

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera recently said that the area would be developed as a tourist destination.

Amaraweera said that the development of wetlands would take place under a joint venture involving several entities, including the Urban Development Authority, Central Environmental Authority, Environment Ministry, Geological Survey and Mines Bureau, and the Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Surakimu Sri Lanka Organization, Chairman Ven. Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara Thera recently charged that a private company was attempting to establish a project in the area, destroying it.

The Thera said he strongly believed that such attempts should be defeated by further securing the wetland area as a national sanctuary under the Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Senior Environmental lawyer and activist Dr. Jagath Gunawardena said that a sanctuary should remain under the Department of Wildlife Conservation and bringing it under the UDA was unacceptable.

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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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