COPE recommends three Ministries to set up a mechanism to prevent the pollution of the Kelani River
The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) held in Parliament yesterday (26), disclosed that the Kelani River, a major river that supplies water to Colombo and is a major river in the country, has been severely polluted due to unauthorized constructions, unlicensed factories, restaurants and hotels.
The COPE Committee yesterday (26) recommended that the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Water Supply, the Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government should work together to set up a mechanism to prevent this pollution.
The committee also stressed the need to prevent pollution of the Kelani River as it is directly linked to a number of issues affecting the country, especially drinking water supply, tourism and urban development.
The committee made this recommendation when the COPE chaired by Prof. Charitha Herath met in Parliament yesterday (26) to discuss the Environmental Audit Report on the Kelani River Water Pollution
State Ministers Susil Premajayantha,Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Members of Parliament Eran Wickramaratne, Jagath Pushpakumara, Premnath. C. Dolawatta, S.M Marikkar were present at the meeting.
It was noteworthy that using online technology at the COPE meeting for the first time. Accordingly, in addition to the officials who came to the Parliament Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Dr) H.S Munasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Industries W.A Chulananda Perera and, the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government J. J Ratnasiri joined the meeting via zoom technology. Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe, , Secretary to the Ministry of Water Supply and Drainage Dr. Priyat Bandu Wickrama, were also present at the COPE Committee. It was also noteworthy that 5 secretaries of the ministries participated in a COPE meeting at the same time.
There are 2946 industries along the Kelani River, out of which 41 industries are without environmental licenses, 205 licenses have been suspended and out of these 17 industries are high risk industries, the COPE Chairman said. Therefore, the Committee stressed the need to take immediate action in this regard.
The COPE focused on the efficiencies of the Wastewater Treatment Plant at the Seethawaka Export Planning Zone and revealed that the treatment was taking place in excess of capacity. However, officials from the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) said measures were already taken to increase the capacity.
The attention was also drawn to the importance of removing unauthorized constructions on both sides of the Kelani River. MP S.M Marikkar pointed out that due to these unauthorized constructions, sewage is discharged into the river and the water is polluted. The Committee noted the need to rectify the situation as soon as possible as it is difficult to remove the structures at once.
It was also revealed before the COPE Committee that several hotels and restaurants operating along the Kelani River are under construction and have not obtained environmental protection permits. Especially in Kitulgala area, near the Kelani river, a restaurant has been operating without an environmental protection license for 18 years. The COPE also recommended to take immediate action in this regard.
The Committee also focused on the disposal of solid waste in the Seethawaka region and the need to look into groundwater in the area. In particular, the COPE Committee recommended that an immediate report on groundwater in the area be submitted to the Committee.
Stern regulatory measures are followed to improve the quality of reclaim tea – Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana
Stern regulatory measures have been taken to improve the quality of reclaim tea Plantation Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said in Parliament yesterday (26).
He was responding to a question raised by Parliamentarian Udayana C. Kiridiyagoda regarding the quality of reclaim tea which is commonly known as refused tea at the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Plantation.
Speaking further the Minister said that all tea processing factories will be subjected to an inspection on required standards and licenses will be issued only to those factories which meet the 80% limit.
Speaking further the Minister said that a standard inspection is being carried out in every tea refining factory. Only factories that meet the 80% limit will be licensed
Inspections are being carried out and license have been issued for only two factories in the Ambalangoda area and in Gampola area license have been issued for only 26 out of 172 factories , the Minister said.
The Minister further stated that although seven days have been given for transportation previously, it has now been reduced to two days and these will be inspected by the Tea Board during loading and unloading.
The Minister stressed that it is gratifying that the price of rubber in Sri Lanka has increased and that the Ministry is focusing on uplifting the rubber industry. Restrictions have been imposed on the import of rubber, since the import of rubber cannot be stopped completely said the Minister.
He also said that a large-scale tire factory is planned to be set up in Hambantota at a cost of US $ 300 million and this will be a great benefit to the rubber manufacturers. The Minister also said that the Board of Investment had approved last week a project to be launched with the Chinese company ‘Hainan Rubber Group’ worth US $ 1.8 billion, which is expected to be the largest investment in the plantation industry by 2021.
The Minister said that, the Ministry is now focusing on further regulating the sale of coconut lands since the sale of coconut lands has become a serious crisis. The Minister also drew attention to the need to formulate a methodology for obtaining a license to cut down coconut trees.
MP Palani Digambaram pointed out the importance of finding a proper solution to the problem of wasp attacks on the people in the plantation areas. The Minister said that solutions will be provided for this as soon as possible.
The Gal-oya Plantations (Pvt) Limited, which is 51% owned by the government, has been involved in a number of irregularities in the recent past and it is important to look into this matter immediately, said MP Madura Vithanage. Minister Ramesh Pathirana stated that the Ministry will pay immediate attention with regard to this matter.
In addition, attention was drawn to the development of palmyra cultivation in the Northern Province, the development of kithul cultivation in the country and the establishment of a system to provide relief to farmers for the preservation of minor export crops.
State Minister of Company Estate Reforms, Tea and Rubber Estates Related Crops Cultivation and Factories Modernization and Tea and Rubber Export Promotion Kanaka Herath , State Minister of Coconut, Kithul and Palmyrah Cultivation Promotion and Related Industrial Product Manufacturing & Export Diversification Arundika Fernando , State Minister of Development of Minor Crops including Sugarcane, Maize, Cashew, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Betel Related Industries and Export Promotion Janaka Wakkumbura Members of Parliament Palani Digambaran,, Udayana Kiridiyagoda and a number of government officials were present at this meeting.
74% of the 2020 fiscal revenue has been received – Reveals at the Committee on Public Finance
It was revealed at the Committee on Public Finance that 74% of the 2020 fiscal revenue has been received so far and that amount is Rs 1124 billion out of the expected total government revenue of Rs. 1580 billion.
This was revealed by the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and the Treasury S.R. Artigala in response to a question raised by the chairman of this committee Parliamentarian Anura Priyadarshana Yapa regarding the government revenue for the year 2020.
The Committee on Public Finance met in Parliament yesterday (26) under the chairmanship of the Parliamentarian Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and Members of the committee State Minister Susil Premajayantha and Members of Parliament M. A. Sumanthiran, Dr. Harsha de Silva, Dilan Perera, Anupa Pasqual and Sahan Pradeep were present at the meeting.
The Committee met to review the allocation of funds within six weeks of the presentation of the Budget in accordance with Standing Order 121 and to submit a report to Parliament on the estimation.
Dr. Harsha de Silva pointed out that it is very important that all data related to the budget should be extremely accurate as it will have a severe impact on the future economic situation of the country, both locally and internationally.
At that time the Hon. Anura Priyadarshana Yapa asked the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and the Treasury whether there could be any positive expectations regarding the revenue for the year 2020 and, he noted that while the economic downturn in the first quarter of the year was real, expectations for the second and third quarters were very positive.
Members of the Committee on Public Finance State Minister Susil Premajayantha and MPs M.A Sumanthiran, Dr. Harsha de Silva, Dilan Perera and Anupa Pasqual, said that if the data were correct, the country’s economy would be in good status. All the committee members attended also agreed to present the second report on the budget in the future.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa informed the committee that Parliamentarians Hesha Vithanage and Chaminda Wijesiri have resigned from the Committee.
Deputy Speaker Hon. Ranjith Siyambalapitiya Appointed as Chairman of the Legislative Standing Committee in Parliament
The Hon. Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, appointed Hon. Deputy Speaker Ranjith Siyambalapitiya as the Chair of the Legislative Standing Committee as per the provisions of the Standing Orders of the Parliament.
Accordingly, the Legislative Standing Committee will consist of 17 Members. It will be officially be chaired by the Deputy Speaker and the Hon. Deputy Chairperson of Committees Angajan Ramanathan will also serve in the Committee.
Members to serve in the Committee will be Hon. G.L.Peiris, Hon. Pavithradevi Wanniarachchi, Hon. Namal Rajapaksa, Hon. Mohan Priyadarshana De Silva, Hon. Sira Jayakody, Hon. (Dr) Rajitha Senarathne, Hon. Chandima Weerakkody, Hon. Govindan Karunakaram, Hon. Hector Appuhamy, Hon. Imran Maharoof, Hon. Harshana Rajakaruna, Hon. Premanath Dolawatte, Hon. Madura Vithanage, Hon. Sgara Kariyawasam and Hon. Jayantha Weerasinghe PC.