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SLAF resumes reforestation project in Udawalawe forest reserve 

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Under the leadership and initiative of the Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sumangala Dias, the SLAF Command Agro Unit, in collaboration with SLAF Station Weerawila has resumed a reforestation programme in selected sites within the Udawalawe forest reserve on 29 September 2020. Accordingly, the SLAF Command Agro Unit has already planted seedling plant species of Mee, Palu and Kohomba in one acre in the forest reserve.  

Speciality of this reforestation programme was these lands were previously used for illegal cannabis cultivation. However, the SLAF Intelligence Operatives together with troops from the Sri Lanka Police Special Task Force had successfully destroyed eight identified Cannabis Cultivation Sites within the Udawalawe Forest on 20 August 2020.



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Govt. says selling state assets only way to build reserves and prevent crippling shortages

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday (06) said Sri Lanka wouldn’t be in a position to be part of the international trading system unless it boosted its foreign reserves by selling some of its assets. Gunawardena, who also holds media and transport portfolios said so at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Responding to a query about the government’s decision to divest vital national assets, the Minister said that if Sri Lanka did not shore up its reserves to the tune of over three billion dollars, international companies would not accept the letters of credit given by Sri Lankan banks.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Finance Minister, has proposed privatising of several state enterprises including Sri Lanka Insurance and Sri Lanka Telecom.

“Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga sold a number of state owned enterprises. If we don’t increase our reserves, to over three billion USD soon, we will have problems importing fuel, and other essential items. Last week, Fitch again reduced our rating. No matter who governs Sri Lanka, they will all face the same problem. We need to build our reserves,” the Minister said.

Minister Gunawardane said that the need of the hour was to sell some assets and boost Sri Lanka’s reserves.

“China, India, Vietnam, and Malaysia are attracting a lot of investors. Only we have failed to do so, and we need to think why this is. Even our entrepreneurs are leaving for other countries. We need to change the way we think, if we want to attract investors to Sri Lanka,” he said.

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Ven Siridhamma, Mudalige granted bail; latter re-arrested

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Convenor of Bhikku Balamandalaya affiliated Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera leaving Court yesterday (06) after Kaduwela Magistrate Chanima Wijebandara granted him bail. The Thera was held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for causing damages to public property during a protest opposite the Education Ministry, over three months back. The Magistrate ordered the Thera released after the police failed to identify the monk at an identification parade. However, IUSF Convenor Wasanatha Mudalige, who was also released by the Magistrate, after the police couldn’t identify him, was taken into custody in connection with some other case.

Pics by Kamal Bogoda

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SLTB Chairman won’t heed Transport Minister’s demand to quit

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By Ifham Nizam

Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka has declined to heed Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardena’s demand to quit immediately.

Ranawaka said so when The Island asked him whether he would resign as demanded by the Minister.

Minister Gunawardena earlier this week asked Ranawaka to resign after the SLTB halted the special bus service between Multi Model Centre, at Makumbura, and Colombo.

Gunawardena said that public and private sector workers, who reached Makumbura in their own vehicles, used the special bus service to reach their destinations. The Minister said that the decision to suspend this service inconvinienced them.

Ranawaka said the SLTB Board of Management had stopped this bus service as the SLTB suffered losses amounting to Rs. 8.5 million within three months.

The SLTB Chief told The Island that he would explain to the Transport and Highways Minister Gunawardena his position. He said it was a collective decision.

Gunawardena earlier demanded an explanation why the SLTB stopped the city bus service without informing him.

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