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Reputed scientist says Balangoda calcite deposit quality cannot be found anywhere else in the world

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By Ifham Nizam

The Balangoda calcite deposit is the best in the world, says Prof. H. M. G. A. Pitawala, Director of Post Graduate Institute of Science, University of Peradeniya.

Prof. Pitawala’s revelation prompted the Environment Ministry to explore the possibility of producing calcium carbonate as a value addition product using the 2,000 tonnes of waste calcite already excavated at the Balangoda Calcite deposit. In this regard, a discussion was chaired by Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.

Officials of the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau, Central Environmental Authority, University of Peradeniya as well as the Ministry of Environment also participated.

Minor excavations at the Balangoda Calcite Deposit are being carried out by various individuals in an informal manner. Therefore, it was emphasised that to properly utilise the calcite deposit, a value added product of calcium carbonate should be produced that can be used in a number of industrial products.

Calcium carbonate was widely used in the manufacture of medicinal pills. It was also used in the building industry including paints, and in the production of animal feed, the Ministry’s research division said.

Plans are underway to set up a factory to manufacture calcium carbonate using this calcite deposit as a joint venture between the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau, a state-owned Technical Services Company and the University of Peradeniya. Accordingly, the Minister instructed to expedite the signing of the relevant Memorandum of Understanding.

Prof. Pitawala told officials that it was unfortunate for the nation not to make the best use of the rare natural resource.

He said that no other country in the world had a calcite deposit comparable to the quality of the local deposit. In other countries, calcite deposits were associated with dolomite. Therefore, great effort had to be made to separate the two.

However, dolomite separation is not required as the Balangoda calcite deposit contained only calcite. Therefore, a high-tech process is not required and the professor requested that maximum use be made of the resource now, according to Prof. Pitiwala.

Minister Amaraweera inquired from officials what purpose the calcite in the Balangoda deposit was currently being used for.

They said the calcium carbonate in the world-famous calcite deposit was currently used only in animal feed.

Speaking at the event, Minister Amaraweera said that Sri Lanka had become a mendicant nation in spite of its resources as it did not make the best use of them.



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SJB complains of sexual harassment of its female MP; Speaker denies allegation

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By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday in a statement said that an allegation made by SJB Matale District MP Rohini Kumari Wijeratne pertaining to an issue of verbal sexual harassment was not true.

Raising a point of order MP Wijeratne said that she regretted over some government MPs singing lewd songs about SJB Ratnapura District MP Thalata Atukorale while the debate on the no-confidence motion against Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila was in progress during the last sitting week of parliament.

MP Kaviratne said it was a violation of MP Atukorale’s Parliamentary privileges. “There are only 12 female MPs in this Parliament. This house is not there to criticise women or to discuss the wives or mistresses of MPs. Its objective is to make decisions on issues faced by the public,” she said.

MP Wijeratne said that she also regretted that Speaker Abeywardene’s failure to prevent a female MP being subjected to verbal sexual harassment in the House. “You have a wife and a daughter but you were sitting there laughing. “You were laughing when MP Athukorala was being verbally harassed. I as a female MP regret your silence and express my disapproval,” MP Wijeratne said.

Speaker Abeywardena said he would inquire into the allegation.

Later issuing a statement, the Speaker’s office said that MP Wijeratne’s allegation was untrue.

The statement said that there had been no occurrence of such an incident while Speaker Abeywardene was in the Chair. Therefore, the Speaker had no involvement in such an incident as alleged by MP Kaviratne. “It is regrettable that MP Kaviratne made such irresponsible remarks without perusing the Hansard and video records of parliament sitting sessions. The MP should have perused the records before making such an allegation. Without doing so the MP has made remarks misleading the public and bringing disrepute to the House,” the Speaker’s statement said.

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As COVID-19 cases rise, Minister wants all hands on deck

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Health Minister declaring open the Centre

All health workers had been vaccinated, and they had to report for work, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Minister of Health yesterday said at a ceremony to open a Covid-19 treatment unit constructed at the Mulleriyawa Base Hospital.

The unit was constructed with the help of the Sri Lanka Air Force. Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana was present on the occasion.

The centre has five wards with 160 beds. The estimated cost of the construction was close to Rs. 200 million, however the Air Force was able to construct it at a cost of about Rs. 35 million.

The Minister of Health said, “As the number of patients increases, hospitals have to be maintained and hospital capacity has to be increased. The presence of healthcare workers is needed to treat people. We have given both

doses of the vaccine to everyone in the health service. Therefore, they have acquired immunity. We have also taken steps to vaccinate their family members.”

Director General of Health Services Dr. Asela Gunawardena, Director of Mulleriyawa Base Hospital Dr. Priyantha Karunaratne, Director of Civil Engineering Services of the Air Force and a number of Air Force personnel and health staff were present on the occasion.

 

 

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AG ’s Dept tells Supreme Court CID is probing Aranthalawa Bhikku massacre

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By Chitra Weerarathne

Senior State Counsel Dr. Avanthi Perera yesterday told the Supreme Court that the Criminal Investigation Department was investigating the 1987 Aranthalawa Bhikku massacre, where a number of Bhikkus were gunned down by the LTTE.

A Bhikku who survived the massacre filed a fundamental rights violation petition, requesting that the assailants be brought to justice.

Dr. Perera added that the investigation report would be submitted to Court on October 12, the next date of calling of the case.

The bench comprised Justice Priyantha Jayawardene, Justice Achala Wengappuli and Justice Janak de Silva.

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