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Remains of all coronavirus victims will continue to be cremated as per experts committee – Health Minister

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By Saman Indrajith

Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told Parliament yesterday that the government would continue to cremate the remains of COVID-19 victims according to the recommendations of the experts’ committee headed by Consultant J.M.O Dr. Channa Perera.

The Minister said so in response to a series of queries raised by Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) leader, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, who made a special statement demanded to know the government’s standpoint on the issue of burying or cremating the bodies of COVID-19 victims.

The Health Minister said that the decision to cremate the remains of COVID-19 victims in Sri Lanka would not be withdrawn on religious, political or any other grounds.

MP Ponnambalam: “I raised this question on Dec 10. After that another committee included virologists headed by Prof. Jennifer Perera was appointed on Dec 24. As I’ve heard, that committee has stated that COVID-19 victims could be buried or cremated. It has submitted its report to the Ministry as well. When this committee was appointed, Dr. Channa Perera’s committee had already recommended cremating the bodies. So, which report would the Minister go by?”

Minister Wanniarachchi: “The committee headed by Prof. Jennifer Perera is a subcommittee appointed under the main committee headed by Dr. Channa Perera to look into the matter. The sub-committee handed over its report to State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and Covid Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle. That report has been forwarded to the main committee and they are considering the report at the moment. The main committee will announce its final decision after studying the report submitted by the sub-committee.”



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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