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Sunday October 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka PM lays foundation for Lower Malwathu Oya reservoir

ECONOMYNEXT – Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe laid the foundation to build a 209 million cubic metre (169,000 acre feet) reservoir across  Sri Lanka’s Malwatu Oya, which will provide drinking water for 50,000 families in three communities and provide water to expand cropping seasons and also fruit cultivation.

“We have cannot stay use traditional agricultural practices, we have to move to modern agriculture,” Wickremesinghe said.

The Lower Malwathu Oya Reservoir will create 284 hectares of new paddy land mainly for resettled families and 527 hectares for fruit cultivation and commercial agriculture using lift irrigation, according to Department of Irrigation plans.

In addition water from the reservoir will provide water for additional cropping in 12,435 hectares of land already irrigated by Giant’s Tank and Akatimurrupu tank, which do not have sufficient water.

Water from the reservoir will helped produce an extra 24,450 metric tonnes of paddy, 16,750 metric tonnes of maize, 360 metric tonnes of green gran and 2,340 metric tonnes of soya beans.

About 5 million cubic metres from the tanks will provide drinking water to Cheddikulal, Thanthirimale townships and several areas in Anuradhapura and Vavuniya districts.

As a result reservoir had been dubbed the ‘reconciliation tank’

A 1MegaWatt power plant is also expected to general 4.5 GigaWatts of power using irrigation water releases.

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Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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