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Sinharaja road project:

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Yoshitha threatens legal action

Yoshitha Rajapaksa, son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has sent a letter of demand to environmentalist Sajeewa Chamikara seeking Rs. 500 million for making a defamatory statement at a media conference.

Rajapaksa’s lawyers have stated in the letter that Rajapaksa does not own a hotel in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve contrary to a claim made by the environmentalist to that effect.

“I strongly deny false allegations made by certain individuals that I own a hotel in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. My lawyers are pursuing legal action against those who have made such claims and demand that these statements are corrected immediately,” Yoshitha tweeted with a copy of the letter of demand sent by his lawyers, Neelakandan & Neelakandan.

In his letter of demand, Rajapaksa has sought a retraction of the statement, an apology and Rs. 500 million in damages.

Chamikara is said to have told the media last week that a controversial road project had recommenced to connect a main road to a hotel owned by Yoshitha Rajapaksa in Sinharaja.

Yoshitha Rajapaksa claimed that the allegations were false, unfounded, baseless and fabricated with clear intention to defame and tarnish his image.

His lawyers have also warned that legal action will be taken if the environmentalist fails to meet the demands.

Concerns were raised by various environmentalists after the road project was recommenced with the Army constructing a road through the Sinharaja Forest Reserve which was declared a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The Centre for Environmental and Nature Studies of Sri Lanka (CENS) had also filed a complaint with UNESCO on the illegal road construction.

Thereafter, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa instructed the authorities to temporarily suspend road development work taking place inside the Sinharaja Forest Reserve.



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President orders probe into notification issued by Department of Immigration and Emigration

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It has been reported that President Wickremesinghe ordered an investigation into the notification issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration requesting all  Russian and Ukrainian tourists to leave the country within 14 days.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), the relevant notification was issued without prior approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.

The decision had reportedly been taken as certain foreign tourists are running illegal businesses in the country.

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Contentious Chinese research vessel docks in Maldives

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Xiang Yang Hong 03 has previously visited Indian Ocean on several other occasions

A contentious Chinese research ship reached the Maldives on Thursday in the latest sign of the archipelago’s diplomatic reorientation towards Beijing and away from its traditional benefactor India.

Local residents said they had spotted China’s Xiang Yang Hong 3 at the Thilafushi industrial port near the capital Male.The 100-metre-long (328-foot) vessel was at an anchorage near Male on Thursday evening, according to the website Marinetraffic.

The Maldives’ pro-Beijing government said earlier the vessel was docking for a port call to rotate crew and take on supplies, on the condition that it would not conduct “research” while in its territorial waters.

Media reports in India had suggested that the vessel was conducting surveillance for Beijing.

India is suspicious of China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and its influence in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are strategically placed halfway along key east-west international shipping routes.Relations between Male and New Delhi have chilled since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won elections last year.

Muizzu has asked India to withdraw 89 security personnel based in the Maldives to operate reconnaissance aircraft by March 15.But the president has also insisted he does not want to upend ties with New Delhi by replacing Indian troops with Chinese forces.

Sri Lanka refused entry to Xiang Yang Hong 3 after two other port calls from Chinese vessels since 2022 raised objections from India.That included the ship Yuan Wang 5, which specializes in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy ship. (AFP)

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MP Harsha in Australia as “Special visitor”

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Harsha de Silva

Opposition MP and Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) Harsha de Silva is currently in Australia as a special visitor.

Taking to ‘X’, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP said he had embarked on a nine-day visit on an invitation extended by the Government of Australia.

“My engagements with policymakers, academics, scientists and investment managers began in Melbourne and will continue in Adelaide and then public officials and politicians in Canberra,” he added.

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