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Last updateThu, 14 Dec 2017 9pm

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It has been emphasized that Sri Lanka remains firm in its commitment to work with the international community, towards ending impunity for crimes against journalists

Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mangala Samaraweera addressed the Opening ceremony of the UNESCO Regional Conference on Reinforcing Regional Cooperation to Promote Freedom of Expression and the Rule of Law in Asia, through Ending Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
The minister commenced his address pointing out that this is an occasion for us in Sri Lanka to remind ourselves that our country used to be a most unsafe place for journalists, not too long ago. It gives us the important opportunity to reflect on our past and resolve to never allow a recurrence of that dangerous past in our country ever again.

He further stated that it is also an occasion for us in Sri Lanka to recognize and acknowledge that justice is crucial and essential, because impunity will leave open the danger of the recurrence of the heinous crimes that occurred in the past. Therefore, this is an important occasion for us locally, to renew our commitment to justice, in memory of all journalists who have been silenced and in recognition of the importance of a free and independent media for advancing peace, development and good governance in our country.

He observed that today, internet and social media platforms are empowering citizens to fully use their right to freedom of expression and access to information to disseminate opinions, information and news. However, this also means that we have to effectively deal with the negative aspects such as misinformation, false propaganda and hate speech. These are real challenges that we must deal with, maybe even through legal means, but WITHOUT suppressing peoples’ right to freedom of expression, dialogue, debate and their access to information.

He emphasized that Sri Lanka remains firm in its commitment to work with the international community, including UNESCO, towards ending impunity for crimes against journalists and to uphold the rights of journalists around the world who place themselves at risk every day, to give voice to the voiceless.

2500 re-awaken villages under the ”Udaa Gammaana” concept by 2020.

Today is the 13th day of the committee stage discussion of the budget 2018. Proposed expenditure titles of the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine and the Ministry of Housing and Construction were taken up for debate today. Joining in the debate Minister Sajith Premadasa stated that the government’s intention is to bestow the public with 2500 reawaken villages  under the concept titled ”Udaa Gammaana” by 2020. 504 houses are already under construction this year. Financial aid has been provided for the plastering of 100 thousand houses.  Model villages will be created in the Northern Province.

The President switched-on the Solar power generating system at the Vajirarama Temple , Bambalapitiya


The Unduwap Pura Full Moon Poya Day programme of the “Sadaham Yaathra” series of Dhamma sermon was held today at Vajirarama Temple , Bambalapitiya with the participation of President Maithripala Sirisena.
The President after engaged in religious observances called on the Incumbent of the Vajirarama Viharaya, the Maha Nayaka Thera of the Amarapura Dharmarakshitha Maha Nikaya, the Most Venerable Thrikunamale Ananda Thera.
The Today’s Dhamma sermon was conducted by the Venerable Meegoda Sukhitha Thera. The President switched-on the Solar power generating system at the Temple.

The government allocates 170 million rupees for the provision of relief to those affected by the adverse weather


Director of the national Disaster Relief center Chaminda Pathiraja says that the government has granted over 170 million rupees for the provision of relief to the people affected by the adverse weather conditions. 5,650 individuals of 1,424 displaced families have been provided shelter at 65 welfare centers. The Disaster Management center says that over 120,000 people in 16 districts have been affected by the adverse weather conditions.
762 houses have been destroyed and 29,240 houses have been partly damaged. The government has granted provision on the basis of one million to divisional secretaries in the affected areas for the provision of relief. An allowance of 10,000 rupees will be issued through the insurance trust fund. Arrangements have also been made to meet any disaster situation if occurs in the North and the East provinces. All the government officials have been kept informed.

According to the Power and Energy Ministry, the power connections of 140,000 consumers are yet to be restored. The Ceylon Electricity Board works to restore these connections today it-self.
Media Spokesman of the CEB, Sulakshana Jayawardena says that the hydropower supply to the national grid has gone up to 60 percent as the water levels of water reservoirs have gone up to 73 percent.
Meanwhile, the Irrigation Department says that there is no flood threat at the moment. The water levels in Nilwala and Kalu rivers are receding.
The Railway Control Room says that the train services of the up country line that had been disrupted due to adverse weather conditions have now come back to normalcy. The Udarata Menike and Podi Menike trains left for Badulla today. But the night mail train will operate only up to Nanu Oya today. Railway authorities have taken this decision taking into consideration the risk that prevails at night due to bad weather. However, the night mail train service between Fort and Badulla will recommence tomorrow.

Relief services for the affected people continue further.

A special discussion on providing relief to the affected people in the Galle district was held this morning at the Galle district secretariat under the patronage of minister Vajira Abeywardena. About 5191 families have been affected in the Galle district. 128 houses have been totally damaged and over 5042 houses have been partly damaged.
Seven people in the Galle district are reported missing.  

People in 6 divisional secretariat areas in the Galle district have been affected due to the overflow of the Gin Ganga.

The Galle disaster management centre says, people in Neluwa, Thawalama, Nagoda, Yakkalamulla, Baddegama and the Weliwitiya areas have been affected due to the overflow of the Ginganga. Assistant director of the centre Colonel Dampath Ratnayake told the SLBC that measures have been taken to face any emergency situation if the water level further rises. He requests the people living in close proximity of Benthara and Madu rivers to be alert as the water level of the both rivers are rapidly increasing.
Meanwhile irrigation engineer of Galle Amarajeewa Liyanage says, according to the hydro meter at Baddegaama the water level of the Gin-Ganga has exceeded the spill level.

20 special teams have been deployed to reconnect the disrupted electricity supplies.

Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya says, 20 special teams have been deployed to repair the broken down electricity connections. Due to the inclement weather  over 502 thousand householders have lost electricity connection due to the failures of power lines.  Addressing a press briefing in Colombo today, the minister said, several hotlines have been arranged for the consumers to inform regarding power failures. Accordingly telephone numbers  1987 , 1910 , 1901 are available to inform such failures. Consumers in Kalutara and Ratmalana areas can direct their complaints  to the hotline 011 44 18 418 .The hotline 071 423 86 23 has been arranged for the sub-consumers in the southern province.

Damages cussed to the fishing sector are being estimated at present.

Minister Mahinda Amaraweera says damages caused to the  fisheries sector  by the adverse weather are being estimated at present. Whereabouts of the 11 fishermen are still uncertain. There were   Heavy damages  to the   fishing harbors and vessels Relief will be provided to the affected fishermen . A compensation of 1 million rupees will be paid to the families of  the fishermen who have lost their lives due to the inclement weather. Another one million rupees will be paid for such families from the fisher insurance scheme.

President returns to the island after completing a successful tour in South Korea.

President Maithripala Sirisena returned to the island last night successfully completing an official visit to South Korea. The tour has led to further strengthening the relations between the two countries.
The two leaders held discussions in line with the completion of 40 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The two leaders held lengthy discussions and signed several agreements to further strengthen the friendship between the two states. Accordingly Korean investors and businessmen will be ready to start ventures in Sri Lanka.

Milad-un-Nabi festival promotes peace, reconciliation and coexistence - President

Today Muslims all over the world and Sri Lanka marks Milad-un-Nabi the holy prophet’s birthday. Issuing a message President Maithripala Sirisena says Milad-un-Nabi festival promotes peace, reconciliation and coexistence. Sri Lanka is a country where people of different communities, cultures and religions live in peace and harmony. It demonstrates the joys of humanity in diversity living in coexistence and harmony.

The President further said that since ancient times, this wonderful land has been displaying peaceful coexistence through various religious and cultural ceremonies. All these events which are celebrated under the state patronage ensure the mutual understanding and relationship among the communities.

The President highly values having the national Milad-un-Nabi celebration this year in Jaffna Peninsula by depicting the compassion, tolerance and love practiced by all religious leaders in the world.