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Wijeyadasa says all profits from Port City will flow out to China

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by Chitra Weerarathne

The Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill would not help Sri Lanka’s economy as it seeks to allow all profits of the venture to flow out to China. The Bill was therefore disastrous, counsel Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC told the Supreme Court yesterday.

Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse appeared with Gamini Hettiarachchi for the petition filed by petitioners Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera and Attorney-at-Law Dasun Nanayakkara.

SLPP MP Dr. Rajapakse submitted that the Port City land had been reclaimed in keeping with an agreement between the government of Sri Lanka and a Chinese Construction Company. The original agreement had been revised followign the 2015 regime change. The Cabinet of Sri Lanka decided that the filled-up land in the Port City should be managed by Sri Lanka and vested in the UDA. The President had to obtain the approval of the UDA, to vest it in the Colombo Port City Economic Commission.

The Bill titled Colombo Port City Economic Commission should be a nullity. The Western Provincial Council had a solid hold on any transfer of this filled-up land in the Port City. In terms of Article 154/3/3 of the Constitution the Bill should be referred to the Provincial Council. It could not be placed on the Order Paper of Parliament, without referring it to the Provincial Council.

The delegation of presidential powers was unconstitutional. The state land might be disposed of by the presidential seal. The powers of the President should not be delegated to other persons, who might be Sri Lankans or Chinese or others. The powers of the President should not be delegated to the Commission to be an auctioneer of the people’s land. The sovereignty of the people, stated in Article 3, should be respected. Development should take place within the framework of the Constitution, upholding the sovereignty of the people. Investments of Sri Lanka should be protected.

The national security is very important. The Board of Investment might handle foreign investments. Article 27 and Article 28 of the Constitution would be violated by the proposed Bill. The Parliament had to protect the fundamental rights. A privilege was given to those to who would be in the new enclave. They would be given tax free benefits. They were living in a separate zone. Very likely the Chinese people would be employed in the new zone. Sri Lankans would not be employed. I

The Commission could lease or sell, the land within the Port City. They would manage the land in the new zone. The Port City would become a separate entity.

Dr. Rajapakshe said:”This Bill is inconsistent with Article 12(1) of the Constitution on equality. The business community in Colombo will have to collapse. The new land will be tax free. The new Bill will not help the economy of Sri Lanka. The profits in this region will flow out to China. The Bill is disastrous.”

“There will be money laundering in the newly proposed land which is stated in the Bill. Article 2,3, and 4 of the Constitution are violated. Article (2) states Sri Lanka is a unitary state. There cannot be another territory within it. The proposed Port City is excluded from the Customs Ordinance. Any prohibited article could be brought in here. All the foreign lands like India and USA are opposed to this Bill”, Counsel Rajapaksa stressed.

“This Bill cannot be passed without a referendum and a two third majority in Parliament.”

Counsel Krishmal Warnasuriya supported another petition. Among the petitioners were persons, from Samagi Jana Balavegaya.

On April 19, 2021, Counsel Weraduwa supported a petition against the Bill. The petitioner here was Kapila Perera.

General Secretary of the UNP, Palitha Ranga Bandara had filed a petition against the Bill. Counsel Viraj de Silva appeared for him.

S. R. Attygalla, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance had submitted an intervention supporting the Port City Economic Commission Bill. President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena, appeared for him.

V. K. Choksy, President’s Counsel submitted another intervention supporting the Bill. He appeared with Counsel, D.S. Ratnayake, Gamini Dissanayake, Minoli Alexander for the intervenient the Secretary of the Podu Jana Eksath Peramuna Lawyers’ Association.

Romesh de Silva, PC also submitted an intervention supporting the Bill.

The Bench comprised, Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice Buwaneka P. Aluwihare, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena, Justice Murdhu N. B. Fernando and Justice Janak de Silva.

Additional Solicitor General Farzarna Jameel, President’s Counsel appeared with Senior Deputy Solicitor General Nerin Pulle for the Attorney General.



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Facilities for infected pregnant women inadequate – SLCOG

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The distribution and availability of high-flow oxygen machines to treat Covid-19 infected pregnant women were not adequate, President of the Sri Lanka College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (SLCOG,) Dr. Pradeep de Silva said yesterday.

Dr. de Silva said that while they had not yet faced any lack of oxygen in treating Covid-19 infected pregnant mothers, things could change rapidly given the limited availability of equipment. “Having an adequate supply of oxygen alone is not enough. You need high flow oxygen machines, and 50 litres of oxygen per minute is needed to operate a high flow oxygen machine. I do not know how many machines we have in this country but where I work, Castle Street Maternity Hospital has about four. We need to estimate the number of these machines we require and how much oxygen we want. From my understanding, the distribution and availability of high flow oxygen machines to treat Covid-19 infected pregnant mothers is not adequate.”

Dr de Silva said that Sri Lanka needed about 50–200 high-dependency unit (HDU) beds per district, based on the population, 10–50 high flow oxygen machines per district, four for ten ICU beds and two dedicated Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machines.

“If we get this, we will be able to deal with pregnant women who develop complications from COVID-19 for the next four to five years,” he said.

Dr de Silva said that currently one pregnant woman who has been infected with COVID-19 is receiving ECMO treatment. There is also a shortage of beds at the Mulleriyawa Base Hospital, which has the largest ward dedicated to COVID-19 infected pregnant women. On Thursday, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Dr Mayuramana Dewolage, who heads the ward that treats COVID-19 infected pregnant women at the Mulleriyawa Base Hospital, said that they only had 37 beds were dedicated to pregnant women with COVID-19. They didn’t have any HDU or ICU beds dedicated for their use, he said.

“We share HDU and ICU beds with other patients at Mulleriyawa Base Hospital,” Dr Dewolage said.

The President of the SLCOG also urged all hospitals to find a separate space for pregnant women who were receiving treatment at their institutions. When COVID-19 pandemic started, the Health Ministry instructed all hospitals to do so but it was now obvious that those instructions had not been followed, he said.

“When the second wave started people got ready but later, they just stopped getting ready and now we are unprepared to meet the challenges of the third wave. We need to find a way to manage this. If the Ministry of Health has not prepared a plan, we are ready to help formulate one,” the President of the SLCOG said.

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Those who had AstraZeneca first jab, should take Sputnik V with adenovirus 26 – Specialist

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

If those who have taken the first dose of AstraZeneca are to receive a second jab of Sputnik V, they should take the first Sputnik V vaccine with adenovirus 26 (Ad26), Consultant Immunologist and head of the department of Immunology-MRI, Dr Nihan Rajiva de Silva says.

Dr. de Silva said that the first dose of Sputnik had Ad 26 and the second had adenovirus-5. “Adenovirus-5 is common. We may have been exposed to that and we may have developed antibodies. Adenovirus-26 is rarer and we will better respond to that. That is why the vaccine-maker has used adenovirus-26 in the first vaccine. So, if you had a first jab of AstraZeneca and you are to get the second dose from Sputnik-V remember to get the first jab,” Dr. de Silva said.

He added that any vaccine has the chance of reducing the severity of the virus and that the general public should get vaccinated when the opportunity is available.

Dr. de Silva said that there was a shortage of AstraZeneca vaccines because the Serum Institute of India could not deliver shipments as promised.

“However, we are now getting Sputnik V vaccines and we are looking at mixing them. There is a study in Russia about the efficiency of mixing Sputnik V with AstraZeneca and the results should be out soon. I can say that theoretically mixing the two vaccines should work,” he said.

Dr. de Silva added that the AstraZeneca vaccine should work against the new variant spreading in the country.

Consultant Cardiologist at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Dr. Gotabaya Ranasinghe said that those with heart issues, non-communicable diseases and were obese must get vaccinated to minimise the complications of Covid-19.

Dr. Ranasinghe said that those in the above-mentioned categories were at risk of contracting, getting complications and dying of COVID-19 and research had proven that vaccination would reduce the chance of such eventualities.

“If you worry about getting vaccinated, talk to your doctor. Don’t seek advice from friends and family,” he said.

Dr. Ranasinghe added that they had limited the number of heart surgeries they do due to COVID-19. ICU beds used for heart patients too were being now allocated for COVID-19 patients. “We only do the most pressing cases. But this means that the waiting list keeps on growing. Now, the waiting list is over eight months. If we limit the surgeries more and keep taking away ICU beds available for those who have had heart surgeries, the waiting list will grow further,” he said.

The Consultant Cardiologist also advised the public to eat healthy food and engage in moderate exercises, at least five days a week. This will reduce the mental stress as well as boost the immune system. ‘We recommend moderate exercises like jogging and brisk walking, for 30 minutes, five days a week. Being healthy is as important as wearing masks or adhering to physical distancing,” he said.

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STF raids narcotics distribution centre close to Bloemendhal police station

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Acting on information received from the Organised Crime Fighting Unit of the elite Special Task Force (STF), police commandos, on Thursday (6), arrested a person running a narcotic distributing network, 1.5 km away from the Bloemendhal police station.

The STF identified the suspect as Thawasidevan Pradeep Kumar, 21, a key associate of one Suresh with links to a criminal outfit run by Kimbulaele Guna, now absconding in India.

DIG (Legal) Ajith Rohana said that the raiding party had recovered 2 kg, 22 g and 88mg of ‘ICE,’ with a street value of Rs 25 mn in addition to 4kg, 2 g and 527 mg of substance known as ‘hash,’ as well as Rs 400,000 in cash and a mobile phone.

Kimbulaele Guna is believed to have sought refuge following an LTTE attempt to assassinate President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga at the final PA presidential election rally at the Town Hall in December 1999.

DIG Rohana said that Guna’s brother Suresh was a major heroin distributor in Colombo. The STF later handed over the suspect, along with contraband and locally made ‘hash,’ and his phone to the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB). The raid on the heroin distribution centre situated in Aluth Mawatha, Colombo 15, followed specific information received as regards the ‘operation’ conducted with impunity (SF)

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