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WB additional financing to improve water and sanitation services in Lanka

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WASHINGTON, June 10, 2021 —

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved $40 million in additional financing for Sri Lanka to expand water supply, sanitation, and hygiene services in 7 districts through the Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project (WASSIP). The project will also increase septage facilities in the more populated part of the country in Western, Southern and North Western Provinces.

WASSIP is the third water sector project financed by the World Bank since 1998 to provide safe drinking water and sanitation in rural, estate and urban areas of Sri Lanka. With the additional financing, the project will support the Government of Sri Lanka’s “Water for all” pledge to cover 4.7 million people in the next four years.

The project finances new water supply systems, rehabilitation of existing water supply systems, toilets for households and schools, and septage treatment plants. To ensure sustainability, local community-based organizations are trained to operate and maintain the systems. Each household agrees to pay a tariff that ensures that operation, maintenance, and replacement costs can be covered.

“Building safe water supply and sanitation systems to ensure a healthy nation is crucial as Sri Lanka battles the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. “Building on the good results of the parent project, the additional finance will extend coverage to areas of the country that are most vulnerable to climate related risks and have the highest level of poverty.”

The project has already reached about 310,000 people in Badulla, Nuwara Eliya, Kegalle, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Ratnapura and Moneragala. New beneficiaries are being added daily as construction of ongoing schemes is completed and households receive water connections. The project has completed almost 80 water supply systems, more than 18,000 toilets and 30 schools have been provided with improved sanitation facilities, including menstrual hygiene facilities where needed.

The project is implemented by the Ministry of Water Supply and the project management unit includes staff from the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB). A project steering committee has been set up at the national level to provide guidance. The Department of National Community Supply actively supports the implementation of service delivery in rural areas and the Plantation Human Development Trust (PHDT) supports service delivery in estates.

“This is the only project that provides treated piped water to rural and estate sectors of Sri Lanka,” said Pratibha Mistry, World Bank Task Team Leader of the project. “The project has demonstrated that communities can manage and operate their own systems. With this experience this additional financing intends to expand this model of service delivery in urban areas for improved sanitation.”

The $40 million loan is provided by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The variable spread loan has a final maturity of 18 years, including a grace period of 5 years. This additional finance builds on the IDA credit of $165 million that financed the parent project which directly benefited over 15,000 rural households.



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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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