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Weather expected to improve soon

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By Sirimantha Rathnasekera

Prevailing inclement weather would improve after 10 August, Director General of the Met. Department, Athula Karunaratne said yesterday.The Director General told The Island that rains would continue in the coastal areas of Southern and Western Provinces due to the activation of the Southwestern monsoon season, he said.Until then there would be continuous heavy rains in the Western, North Western, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces and Galle and Matara districts, Karunaratne said.

“Some areas of Sabaragamuwa Province and Galle, Kandy and Matara districts will receive heavy rains over 100 ml. Wind speeds might reach 50 kmph in the western slope of the Central province and North Central, Western, North western, and Southern provinces,” he said, adding that showers might occur in Northern and North-Central provinces.

The Director General of the Met. Department said that weather warnings had been issued and people had to heed them.He added that showers or thundershowers would occur at several places in sea areas around the country.

“Winds will be westerly to south-westerly and wind speed will be 30-40 kmph. The wind speed can increase up to 60-70 kmph in the sea areas off the coast extending from Puttalam to Pottuvil via Colombo, Galle and Hambantota. The wind speed can increase up to 50-60 kmph in the sea areas off the coast extending from Puttalam to Batticaloa via Mannar,” Kankesanturai and Trincomalee.

The sea areas off the coast extending from Mannar to Pottuvil via Puttalam, Colombo, Galle and Hambantota will be very rough at times. Karunaratne asked the public to remain vigilant and to contact 117 for emergency assistance.



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New species of copepod discovered in Indian Ocean

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A team of researchers has discovered a new copepod species, a planktonic crustacean, from the coast of Great Nicobar, which is part of the Andaman-Nicobar archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, said a news report published by The Hindu yesterday.The report filed from Kerala said: The copepod has been named ‘Tortanus dhritiae’ in honour of Dr. Dhriti Banerjee, the first woman director of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).

The team led by Sanu V. Francis, assistant professor, department of zoology, Mary Matha Arts and Science College, Mananthavady, and Jasmine Purushothaman, head of protozoology section, ZSI, discovered the new species. Prof. Bijoy Nandan, Dean, School of Marine Sciences, Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat), was also a member of the team.

“Among marine zooplankton, copepods are the most dominant group in marine subtropical and tropical waters and exhibit great diversity in their morphology and habitats. They form a crucial link between primary producers and higher trophic levels in the food web. Any change in copepod populations may disrupt the pelagic food web of the entire marine ecosystem. Therefore, the study of copepods is of great importance,” said Dr. Sanu.

Tortanus dhritiae, which belongs to the genus Tortanus and subgenus Atortus, is mainly found on coral islands in the Pacific Ocean. Among these, only seven species have been found in the Indian Ocean so far, he added.

“Tortanus copepods are distributed mainly in the coral reef ecosystems, so they can only be found and collected using advanced methods such as scuba diving. In addition, identifying these microscopic organisms requires expertise, but only a few experts are available in the country. That may be a reason why very few species are found in the Indian Ocean” Dr. Jasmine said.

Studies on copepods in the Indian Ocean have not been conducted extensively. As part of expeditions in the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, and Lakshadweep communities, Dr. Sanu and Prof. Nandan have discovered around 70 copepods and their DNA barcodes.

“Climate change and habitat disruptions are challenging for the survival of the coral reef ecosystem. Hence, studies regarding the marine taxa should be indispensable” Dr. Jasmine said.The discovery has been published in the recent edition of the international taxonomy journal Nauplius.

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Process of securing X-Press Pearl fire damage expedited

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The Minister of Justice has instructed officials to expedite measures to take legal action and secure damages for the devastation caused by the MV -X Press Pearl fire. More than a year has passed since the vessel carrying a hazardous chemical cargo caught fire on 20 May 2021 while at anchorage 9.5 nm off the Colombo Port. The fire and ensuing chemical leak caused serious damage to Sri Lanka’s marine environment. It has been called the ‘single worst incident of plastic marine pollution in the world.’

Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe gave these instructions to the officials at a meeting held in the Ministry of Justice this week to discuss the legal measures taken to date, how compensation has been provided and how the relevant institutions will proceed in this regard. The special discussion was also attended by Attorney General Sanjay Rajarathnam, PC and relevant Government officials.

Rajarathnam presented legal action taken to date while Marine Environment Protection Authority Chairperson Dharshani Lahandapura explained the matters included in the report prepared regarding the damage to the environment, the cleaning of the seashore and the removal of the waste material.

The Minister of Justice gave instructions to the officials to take the necessary steps without delay regarding the legal actions and obtaining the compensation. Wijeyadasa pointed out that the incident attracted the attention of the general public as well as various parties, and reminded the officials that these groups are keeping watch on the Government and its actions in this regard.

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Opposition to head parliamentary watchdog committees

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By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament, on Friday, that top posts of three parliamentary watchdog committees, the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), Committee on Public Accounts (COPA), and Committee on Public Finance (COPF), would go to the Opposition. He said so in response to a question raised by Chief Opposition Whip, Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella. Parliamentary committees are being reconstituted following the opening of the third session of the ninth Parliament.

Kiriella said that party leaders, at a meeting held three weeks back, had decided that the heads of the COPE, the COPA and the COPF should be Opposition MPs, and demanded to know from the Speaker when that would be done.The Speaker said that decision would be implemented.

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