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Torrential rains claim 14 lives, two more missing

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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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Debt-ridden CEB goes ahead with shocking pay hike amidst pandemic

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Workers offered 25% increase this year…12% annually over three-year period
 

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Two days after the Presidential Secretariat stated that the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) owed two state banks––Bank of Ceylon and the People’s Bank, a staggering Rs 85 bn, the cash-strapped enterprise announced an annual 12 percent salary increase to its employees.

Vijitha Herath, Chairman, of the CEB, yesterday (15) said that the salary increase in terms of the collective agreement for 2021-2023 period would enable the workers to receive 25 per cent in the first year whereas annually it would be 12 percent over a period of three years.

The ministry said that in spite of severe difficulties caused by the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic, the salary increment was granted in response to workers’ request.

Declaring that the Cabinet and the Board of Directors of the CEB had approved the salary increase, the ministry has sought cooperation of the CEB trade unions to finalise the collective agreement.

The ministry claimed that CEB workers had been granted a spate of privileges not given to other state sector employees hence consensus on collective agreement was expected soon.

The Presidential Secretariat on Sunday explained that one reason for the banking sector crisis was the failure on the part of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and the CEB to settle Rs 562 bn and Rs 85 bn, respectively.

The Presidential Secretariat issued the statement in the wake of SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, triggering a political storm by demanding Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila’s immediate resignation over recent increase in fuel prices.

The CEB Chairman also claimed that they had been able to bring down the accumulated losses to Rs 56 bn last year from Rs 97 bn in the previous year.

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Indian fishers riled by SL moves to create new fish breeding grounds

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

 

Fishermen from Rameswaran will hold a protest today (16) against Sri Lanka’s decision to submerge 20 old buses in the seas off Jaffna to create breeding grounds for fish.

Members of 17 fisheries associations in Tamil Nadu and Rameswaran claim that this will affect their yield as more fish will be attracted to the breeding grounds created by submerged buses.

The Ministry said that sinking those buses was nothing new and that such buses provided a hard surface for invertebrates to live on, some of which could not live on the sand bottom that is naturally there.

“Some fish are not fast swimmers, so they need a structure to provide both food and shelter; they wouldn’t, for example, be able to outswim a shark, but they could duck into the shelter instead,” a Sri Lankan fisheries association representative said.

However N. Devadas, the head of the Indian fishermen’s association in Rameswaram, said that they would also hand over a petition against that decision to the Sri Lankan government. Sri Lanka has been submerging old SLTB buses in the deep sea for many years as a part of the Deep Sea Fish Development Project.

 

 

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Three more weeks needed to see drop in COVID deaths – Dr. Fernandopulle

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It would take at least three more weeks to see a drop in COVID-19 related deaths in the country, Minister of COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudharshini Fernandopulle said yesterday.

There had been a drop in the number of cases reported already, she said.

“The number of patients is coming down but there has been an increase in deaths. However, this too will come down.

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