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Wednesday September 27th, 2023

“Stern action” against fake news on environmental destruction – President’s office

ECONOMYNEXT – The Presidential Secretariat is warning that stern legal action will be taken against “parties or individuals who intentionally feed misinformation and mislead the public” in response to media reports of widespread environmental destruction in mainstream and social media.

In a Press release issued today September 29 the Secretariat says it has “identified a fake news campaign” that is saying that unprecedented environmental destruction is taking place after the new government came to power.

“These false reports highlight that forest reserves are being burnt down and trees in natural forests are being cut down. People, who create such fabricated news, are attempting to convince the public that environmental destruction of this scale has never happened before and that the government remains tight-lipped in the face of this kind of illegal activities. It has been observed that such reports contain both absolute untruth and distorted information,” the release said.

In the past two months, environmental activists have reported numerous instances where protected areas such as the Anavilundawa wetland sanctuary which is protected by the international Ramsar Convention had been bulldozed to create a prawn farm. Police arrested and charged a leading member of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna as having ordered the clearing.

Wildlife and Forest Conservation Minister C B Ratnayake, told a Press Conference September 17, that “interested parties were trying to show that as soon as we came to power these incidents began happening.”

Hemantha Vithanage of the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) however says “there has been a wave of incidents where trees have been felled, sanctuaries such as Anavilundawa were encroached on and other protected forests occupied.”

He says these incidents have accelerated since the new administration came to power.

The Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) has also joined the chorus raised by the activists blaming the government for what it says are four serious incidents.

Rasika Jayakody of the SJB Youth Wing claims that ever since the new government took office at least 7 acres of a protected area per day has been destroyed.

EconomyNext has not been able to independently confirm this claim.

Wildlife officials are investigating after a tract of government forest land adjacent to the Mahawewa State Forest land was bulldozed apparently to mark the border of a leased property, a press release issued by the Wildlife and Forest Conservation Ministry said.

The release issued today September 29, signed by the Ministry Secretary Bandula Harischandra said that the clearing had taken place on land belonging to the Kataragama Temple which had been leased out.

A person who had ordered the clearing has been arrested and the police are looking for the bulldozer and the driver, the release said. (Colombo, September 29, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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Sri Lanka’s stocks up in trading on Wednesday morning

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka shares were picking up in trading on Wednesday morning.

Turnover was at 50 million. Trading in the Capital Goods Industry Group was driving turnover.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.37 percent or 41.78 points to 11,289.94, while the S&P SL20 was also up 0.68 percent or 21.66 points to 3,187.65.

Hatton National Bank, Commercial Bank and LOLC saw gains in morning trade, while Tokyo cement and Lanka Hospitals were trading down during morning trading. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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Sri Lanka rupee opens at 323.50/324.10 to the US dollar, bond yields stable

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee opened at 323.50/324.10 to the US dollar on Wednesday, after closing on Tuesday at 323.70/324.20 to the US dollar, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 was quoted at 15.50/70 percent on Wednesday up from Tuesday’s close at 15.45/65 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 was quoted at 14.50/55 percent from closing at Tuesday at 14.30/55 percent. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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Sinopec to go up to 200 Sri Lanka pumping stations, more possible: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT- China’s Sinopec which has been assigned 150 fuel retail outlets in sri Lanka which were operated by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, has been given the nod to set up another 50 stations, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera has said.

Out of 150 stations, Sinopec has already signed up 145, Minister Wijesekera had said at a dealer convention of the new company.

‘Also we have given them the opportunity to start 50 brand new stations, in locations that may fit the requirements that exists,” Minister Wijesekera said in comments broadcast by Sri Lanka’s Derana Television.

“But it is not necessary to be restricted to 200 fuel stations. If there are any requests made by you we will be open to consideration for agreements with dealers and distributors.”

Minister Wijesekera attended the dealer convention where China’s ambassador to Colombo Qi Zhenhong was also present.

Sinopec was supposed to enter Sri Lanka in 2003 under current President Ranil Wickremesinghe who was then Prime Minister. At the time India’s IOC entered Sri Lanka.

“Under the leadership of the then prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, two companies asked to take part in the retail operations,” Minister Wijesekera said.

“Unfortunately due to the change of government in 2004 the companies could not take part, and due to the political changes and policy changes.

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