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X-Press Pearl: Initial claim for damages up to June 01 amounts to USD 40 mn



By Ifham Nizam

The Marine Environment Protection Authority of Sri Lanka (MEPA)’s initial claim from the owners of the Singapore flagged ship, MV X-Press Pearl for damages up to June 1 was USD 40 million , a top government official said.

The official told The Island that their initial observations had revealed they could go on claiming for three years.  “However, claims can go on for 20 years or more and they depend on further studies.”

The MEPA, supported by Sri Lanka’s tri-forces, has so far collected more than 1,000 tonnes of debris washed ashore from the vessel during the ongoing beach clean-up.

The clean-up operation stretches some 200 km of Sri Lanka’s North Western to South coastline.

The toxic debris including plastic nurdles had been stored securely in 44 containers,  in a hazardous waste facility, MEPA said.

MEPA,  Chairperson, Attorney-at-law Dharshani Lahandapura said that on the instructions of State Minister Urban Development, Coast Conservation, Waste Disposal, and Community Cleanliness Minister Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, a detailed three-stage approach which included an accelerated clean-up, environmentally responsible disposal and restoration, as well as claims and damages, was being formulated by the relevant government authorities.

MEPA is also working closely with the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) on the disposal of the plastic nurdles and debris.

“The implications from this disaster have been manifold. But at the same time, we need to ensure that the disposal of this waste is completed responsibly in an environmentally friendly manner. We may also collaborate with private companies to dispose of the waste ecologically and responsibly” said CEA Chairman S. Amarasinghe.

The ill-fated vessel’s cargo contained 81 containers of hazardous goods, including 25 metric tons of nitric acid — a key ingredient in the production of explosives, and touted as a possible factor for the fire on board.

“Most of the cargo seems to have been incinerated by fire,” claimed Andrew Leahy, spokesman for X-Press Feeders.

Meanwhile, a CID probe has revealed that the fire was due to sheer negligence.

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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused



By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.



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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas



By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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