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Torrential rains claim 14 lives, two more missing



By Ifham Nizam

Torrential rains lashing the country have claimed 14 lives and damaged more than 900 houses, according to the the Disaster Management Centre (DMC).

Some 245,212 persons belonging to 60,674 families have been affected in ten districts since last Thursday.

The Irrigation Department yesterday issued a red notice, stating that the water level of the Kelani Ganga was rising.

Department’s Engineer (Hydrology) S P C Sugishwara said the flood situation in the Kelani valley was likely to worsen.

He said flood waters in the Ruwanwella, Dehiowita, Seethawaka, Dompe, Kaduwela, Biyagama, Homagama, Kolonnawa, Colombo and Wattala Divisional Secretariats in the Kelani River Basin might rise further.

More than 800 houses have suffered damage mostly in the Ratnapura and Gampaha districts. At present in certain places, Kelani, Kalu, Attanagaluoya and  Mahaoya have caused minor floods.

However, water levels are receding in many areas.

Nearly 15,658 people belonging to 3,520 families have been affected and evacuated to 72 welfare centres––32 in the Colombo district,  12 in Gampaha, Kalutara 10 and Ratnapura 10.

Some 3,397 of 794 families of these displaced people are staying with relatives or in friends’ houses.

The National Disaster Relief Services Centre (NDRSC) has allocated Rs. 74.5 million for response and relief operations in the disaster-hit areas.

The DMC warned yesterday that the upper catchment areas of the Kelani Ganga basin might cause floods in the next 24 hours.

Adverse weather has affected people in Gampaha, Ratnapura, Colombo, Puttalam, Kalutara, Nuwara Eliya, Kegalla, Kandy, Kurunegala and Galle districts.

Sri Lanka Navy has deployed 33 relief teams in the Western, Southern, Sabaragamuwa and Northwestern Provinces to provide relief to the people affected by the floods caused by torrential rains. They have rescued 66 more persons including children and women, affected by floods in several areas in the Gampaha and Kalutara districts and provided them relief measures.

The Navy relief teams managed to rescue 61 persons including children and women affected by floods in the Ja-Ela area in the Gampaha District and five more persons in the Bulathsinhala area in the Kalutara district.

The Navy has sent out its relief/rescue teams to the flood-risk areas in the Gampaha, Kalutara, Colombo, Rathnapura, Galle, Matara and Puttalam districts. Moreover, 11 more Navy relief teams are kept on standby for deployment, as and when a need arises.

Water stagnation is still reported from Kaduwela, Kolonnawa in Colombo District, Biyagama, Wattala, Ja-ela, Kelaniya, Gampaha in Gampaha District, and necessary relief efforts are provided by district administration with the support of the military.

Showers or thundershowers will occur at times in Western, Sabaragamuwa and North-western provinces and in Galle, Matara, Nuwara-Eliya and Kandy districts today. Fairly heavy falls of about 50 mm can be expected at some places in these areas. Showers or thundershowers will occur at a few places in Uva and Eastern provinces during the evening or night.  

The National Building Research Organization has issued high risk alert for Ingiriya, Palindanuwara, Bulathsinhala, Agalawatte and Matugama in the Kalutara district, Kalawana, Ayagama, Kiriella & Eheliyagoda in the Ratnapura district, Ambagamuwa in Nuwara-Eliya District, Yatiyantota, Dehiowita, Bulathkohupitiya, Deraniyagala, Kegalle, Warakapola, Galigamuwa, Ruwanwella, Aranayaka, Mawanella & Rambukkana in the  Kegalle District. Further, medium level risk alerts have been issued to some areas in Colombo, Galle, Gampaha, Kalutara, Kandy, Matale districts.

The WFP handed over a consignment of items to the Disaster Management Centre to support the Monsoon emergency response efforts. These items which include personal protective equipment, disinfectant liquid and sprayers, thermal scanners and washbasins will help facilitate response and relief activities to assist those affected by the South-West Monsoon rains.

The Consignment was handed over to Major General (Retd.) Sudantha Ranasinghe, Director General of Disaster Management Centre by Indu Abeyratne, Programme Officer of World Food Programme, whilst Director Preparedness and Director Operations were also present at the handover.

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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman




Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand




At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night



President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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