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Sri Lankan Navy nabs 54 Indian fishermen, detains two boats

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Sri Lankan Navy has taken into custody 54 Indian fishermen and detained two boats for fishing in the Sri Lankan waters.

Indian officials said on Thursday that the fishermen, hailing from Rameswaram and Thangachimadam, had been picked up by the Sri Lankan Navy near Katchatheevu on Wednesday.

“They were taken to a local naval camp for further inquiry and are likely to be handed over to Lankan Fisheries authorities to be isolated along with the detained boats,” the Indian officials said.

Indian media reported that the Rameswaran fishermen’s association representatives had expressed concern over such repeated instances of Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu being nabbed by the Sri Lankan navy and urged the Centre and state government to ensure their early release.

The Indian High Commission in Colombo, issuing a media statement yesterday said it had been informed about the apprehension of the Indian fishermen and five boats by Sri Lanka Navy and asked the government to deal with the Indian fishermen in a humanitarian manner.

“Providing immediate consular access and emergency supplies to apprehended fishermen are of prime importance. We are working with Government of Sri Lanka for expeditiously securing consular access for these fishermen. Bilateral mechanisms are in place to comprehensively address all matters related to fisheries. It may be recalled that the Fourth meeting of the Secretary-level JWG was held on 30 December 2020 through virtual mode. Follow-up measures on the basis of discussions which took place during the meeting need to be taken forward quickly.”

The Sri Lankan Government too had repeatedly called on the Indian Government to monitor and prevent Indian fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters.

State Minister of Ornamental Fish, Freshwater Fish and Shrimp Farming Development, Multiday Fishing and Fish Export Kanchana Wijesekera said last December that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa discussed the matter with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a virtual summit.

Wijesekera said that Minister of Fisheries Douglas Devananda had also spoken to Indian officials. “Indian fishermen were taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka to poach here. “We cannot detain the Indian fishermen once arrested because of the high Covid-19 cases among them. Therefore, we have to release them once arrested.”

 

 



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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for

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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

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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

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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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