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Unauthorised constructions cannot be permitted within university premises – GL

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Controversy over LTTE memorial

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday (11) said that monuments of any kind couldn’t be built within university premises under any circumstances without approval from the relevant authorities.

Prof. Peiris emphasised that the Jaffna University couldn’t be exempted from regulations pertaining to building of monuments.

Prof. Peiris said so at the weekly media conference at the SLPP office, Battarmulla yesterday. The Education Minister dealt with primarily three issues, namely controversy over the removal of the LTTE memorial in the Jaffna University over the last weekend, the molestation of orphaned girls at a Child Welfare Centre in the Anuradhapura District and reopening of schools in areas outside the Western Province and isolated areas amidst continuing Covid-19 rampage.

The Jaffna University monument was unveiled in 2019, a decade after the LTTE was militarily defeated.

However, earlier in the day, Jaffna University Vice Chancellor Prof. S. Srisatkunarajah laid the foundation stone for what the protesting students call the Mullivaikkaal Memorial Monument previously demolished at the behest of the university administration.

In spite of the Education Ministry reiterating illegal structures couldn’t be allowed in Universities, the Jaffna University administration succumbed to heavy pressure. The four party Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi led Tamil National Alliance (TNA) demanded the restoration of the monument.

Prof. Peiris said what mattered was whether the monument in question had been built with proper approval.

Chairman of the ruling SLPP Prof. Peiris alleged that some interested parties were trying to exploit the situation. He underscored the importance of promptly thwarting such plans.

Referring to talks the Jaffna University VC Srisatkunarajah had had with students, Prof. Peiris offered to send Chairman of University Grants Commission Prof. Sampath Amaratunga to Jaffna to help resolve the dispute.  The Minister also referred to the talks Prof. Srisatkunarajah had held with students in the morning at the University.

Minister Peiris issued warnings over interested parties fishing in trouble waters in the wake of the SLMC throwing its weight behind the protest in the Northern and Eastern Provinces in support of Tamil campaign against the demolition of the war memorial.

Secretary of SLMC M. Nizam Kariapper in a statement issued urged the Muslims and its supporters in the north and east to join hands in solidarity with fellow Tamils and to support fully the hartal called on Monday (11)  against what he called insensitivity around memorialisation and treating the dead with dignity by the government and to condemn the  destruction of memorial monument for the dead in Jaffna  university and forced cremation Muslim janazha (infected with Covid 19 virus).

Commenting on alleged molestation of orphans at an Anuradhapura child welfare facility, Prof. Peiris assured an impartial inquiry. The media recently exposed how those working at the state-run facility took advantage of the girls sent there on court directives.

Minister Peiris said that State Minister Piyal Nishantha had visited the centre and was in the process of conducting an investigation.



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Cabraal: Prez appoints members to Port City Economic Commission

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By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatta

The President of the country would always appoint members to the Colombo Port City Economic Commission, entrusted with running of that city under the proposed CPCEC Bill, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, yesterday, told the media, in Colombo.

State Minister Cabraal said that most critics of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill had not even read it.

“Sri Lankans don’t need to obtain a visa to enter the Port City as some claim. The Port City will be administered by the Colombo Port City Economic Commission and the Bill we have presented details how the area will be governed,” Cabraal said responding to a question posed by a journalist.

The State Minister said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had asked him to counter the misinformation and fake news that was being spread about the Bill. Once people have read and understood the Bill, most who criticise it would have to change their tune, the Minister said.

 

Journalists also questioned the State Minister on the allegations levelled by MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakse. The State Minister said that Rajapakse had not even asked a question about the Bill during the Parliamentary Group meetings.

“As I said earlier, the Port City will be administered by Colombo Port City Economic Commission. All members are appointed by the President. The Chairman of the Commission too is appointed by the President. The President can get rid of them anytime he wants,” Cabraal said.

The State Minister added that no one would be allowed to withdraw money or assets from Sri Lanka and invest in the Port City. “This is a special economic zone. We need to attract foreign direct investments. We need to have ease of doing business in this zone and we have to make it an important financial hub in the region.”

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Two hotels to be built obstructing elephant corridor in Sinharaja – MONLAR

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Forest land being cleared for the construction of a hotel

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Bowitiyatenna elephant corridor, used by elephants in Sinharaja to travel to Dellawa – Walankanda forest had been obstructed by two businessmen by clearing a section of the forest to build hotels, Sajeeewa Chamikara of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) said.

“One hotel is being constructed in the Dolekanda Grama Niladari area after clearing seven acres of forest land. The Kalawana Divisional Secretariat has approved the construction of the hotel ignoring environmental regulations. Right now, forests are being cleared, land is being prepared and buildings are being constructed using heavy equipment.”

Another hotel was being built at the Bowitiyatenna Elephant Corridor, situated in Godakawela Divisional Secretariat area by a businessman from Godakawela. He has cleared around eight acres of forest land, the environmentalist said.

The two hotels were obstructing the elephant corridors used by the remaining two elephants in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Now, the the people of Rambuka, Thanawela, Ellagama, Handiyekade, Kajugaswatte, Pothupitiya, Kopikella and Cypresswatte would have the elephans marauding their villages, the environmentalist said, adding that the residents of those villages would lose property and lives due to the hotels being constructed by obstructing the elephant corridors.

“Most of the forest areas surrounding the Sinharaja are to be annexed to the Forest Reserve because they are an important part of the forest network. These unscrupulous businessmen and politicians supporting them are attempting to carve out as much land as possible before these areas receive protected status. They are also doing their best to delay the declaration of these lands as protected areas.”

Chamikara said that the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) had the power to take action against those who carried out such illegal activities.

According to Section 23 (a.) (a.) of the National Environmental Act, when a project is carried out without environmental clearance, the CEA can produce such people before a magistrate’s court. If found guilty, a person can be fined up to Rs. 15,000 or imprisoned up to two years or subjected to both.

Chamikara said: “According to Article 27(14) of Chapter VI of the Sri Lankan constitution the state shall protect, preserve and improve the environment for the benefit of the community.” However, the CEA seems to have no interest in taking action against those who are building these hotels illegally. This is CEA’s attitude to almost all major environmental destruction that seems to be taking place these days.

“The government is silent when the Sinharaja forest is degraded and elephant corridors are closed by businessmen. The right to land seems to be a right reserved only for businessmen. We have the right to oppose these under article 28. (f) of the Constitution which states that we have a fundamental duty ‘to protect nature and conserve its riches.’ Article 28. (e) states that we also have a fundamental duty ‘to respect the rights and freedoms of others.’ Thus, we, the citizens have the right to oppose the illegal use of natural resources by powerful businessmen. If we do not oppose these moves as citizens, powerful businessmen will take over all our natural assets like they are doing at Sinharaja.”

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RDHS predicts Coronavirus spike in Jaffna over the weekend

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

There might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna this weekend, A.

Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday. Dr. Kethiswaran made the prediction after 26 new cases were detected in Jaffna.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported from Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be locked down, he said.

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