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

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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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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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