Govt committed to prevent environment, marine pollution -
Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody presided when Parliament met at 1
After presentation of papers and oral questions, the House took up
the regulations under the Marine Pollution Prevention Act for debate.
Anura Priyadarshana Yapa (Environment Minister): These
regulations before the House today aimed at streamlining bunker
activities preventing marine pollution. As Sri Lanka is located on
international shipping routes, it is necessary to streamline the bunker
services, so that foreign exchange could be increased.
Around 300 ships daily sail on shipping routes close to Sri Lanka,
and around 5000 ships arrive at the Colombo Harbour monthly to obtain
bunker services. Today not only the Petroleum Corporation, but ten other
private institutions are engaged in providing bunker services.
Supplying oil to ships is a major source of income to the country.
Today Sri Lanka is in a very favourable situation in relation to
international shipping activities. Therefore, it is necessary to
implement a proper programme for bunker service.
The regulations state it is mandatory for those who provide bunker
facilities to ships to maintain international standards. Bunker process
should adhere to international rules and regulations. We have moved
these regulations to prevent marine pollution and oil spill. We need the
support of other key sectors to implement these regulations. As a
responsible government we are committed to prevent any kind of pollution
affecting the environment and marine life.
John Amaratunga (UNP): Today government ministers interfere
unnecessarily in the functions of the Judiciary. A government minister
threatened a judge during an incident in Mannar yesterday. This is very
unfortunate. No one can interfere with the performances of the courts.
This is totally in violation of law and order in the country. We
should not allow a repetition of such acts. So, the Bar Association has
decided to launch a protest today against political interference.
Victor Anthoney. (UPFA): This is a timely regulation. Marine
pollution is harmful for creatures living in marine environment. As a
result of increased marine pollution, some areas have been identified as
dead sea zones across the world. Marine pollution also causes severe
damage to fish breeding.
Therefore, it is necessary to plan a special programme to prevent
marine pollution. Sea erosion has also increased due to marine
pollution, The whole world should pay attention to the marine pollution.
Anurakumara Dissanayake (DNA): The aim of this regulation is
to prevent pollution taking place in the marine environment. Therefore,
it is necessary to implement these regulations properly. Today one of
the private companies is engaged in banana cultivation in the
Lunugamvehera area where that elephants move freely. This situation has
not been taken into consideration by the company. Wildlife should come
under the Environment Ministry. But it is under the Agrarian Services
Ministry. This company has dug the soil in the whole area, so that when
rainy season commences, the soil is washed away and deposited in the
Lanugamvehera reservoir. This has caused environment imbalance.
According to the rules and regulations, no cultivation or development
activity can be taken place within 1km from the National Park. But this
company is today engaged in banana cultivation without even obtained
environmental feasibility report.
Mahinda Amaraweera (Disaster Management Minister): Now we have
to take care of the seas around us. The so called developed countries
never care for the environment, as the seas. The developed countries at
least do not attend the conferences on environment. But Sri Lanka
actively participate in the conservation of the environment, the forest
and the seas. Millions of trees were planted on Environment Day.
The Panama area is very important.The security forces are protecting
it. One member spoke of a canal constructed in a forest area.But it is a
support to protect the environment.
Around 200 ships pass the seas off Dondra. If we could provide bunker
service we can earn a massive income. These ships are only 19 miles away
from Hambantota. Those who criticised earlier have nothing to say now.
The expressway will be extended to Hambantota. The railway track will
be extended to Beliatta. The new facilities overseas are booming in Sri
Lanka. Now there are new theatres like the Nelum Pokuna, expressways and
harbours in the country.
The Lotus Tower will be constructed. People who voted for President
Mahinda Rajapaksa can be happy today.
Jayalath Jayawardena (UNP): The UNP introduced the open
economy to Sri Lanka. UNP expedited development. The Coastal
Conservation department comes under the Defence Ministry. But it was
under the Fisheries Ministry on earlier occasions. The change has
created many issues.
Today new building are constructed near the beaches in the Negombo
area. Most of them are illegal. So what can we say of marine pollution?
Chandrasiri Gajadeera Prison Reforms and Rehabilitation Minister:
The trend of some members' speech are not acceptable. The opposition
members do not talk to the point but talk to the media.
Now the country in being developed to be a naval hub. At this moment
service providers are competitive and could neglect the environment.
So this move is commendable. Some countries have had to spend more
money to prevent environment pollution than the income earned from
development projects that caused the pollution. So we have to take
It is the UNP that created a money oriented society.
Ajith P. Perera (UNP): Deputy Chairman of Committees Chandra
Kumar Murugesu takes he Chair.
We are speaking of prevention of marine pollution. But how many
members of the government and opposition take part in the debate?
Minister Dinesh Gunawardena misinterpreted the statement I made
Dinesh Gunawardena (Water Supply and Drainage Minister: Some
media had highlighted your statements. It is provocative. The statement
is a provocation to commit unacceptable deeds just because of the
absence of members in the House. It is a serious statement.
J.C. Ranga (UNP): There is a conflict among Tamils and Muslims
in Mannar. We predicted it would happen. The Muslims and Tamils lived
peacefully in the North and East. Though the government says it solves
the conflicts among the communities, it in not true.
A.R.M. Abdul Carder (Environment Deputy Minister: We can yield
enormous amounts of resources from the sea around our island.
We can harvest the fish crop in the seas, and provide bunker services
to ships at the ports. But we have to protect the seas by preventing
environmental pollution. When fuel is supplied to a ship the petroleum
could leak into the seas from the pumps, polluting the seas.
If it happened the damage caused could be higher than the income
earned. So we have to introduce international standards. The order was
Parliament adjourned until 1 p.m on August 7.
'Members of House should act with responsibility'
Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody yesterday said in Parliament that
members should act or make statements with a sense of responsibility
without degrading the dignity and decorum of the House.
He said it was not suitable for members to ring the quorum bell for
the fun of it while they knew that members of both, the government and
Opposition remained in the Parliamentary complex attending various
He made this observation when Chief Government Whip and Water Supply
and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena brought to the notice of the
Chair that it was not fair for Opposition members to ring the quorum
bell thrice for fun while knowing members were in Parliament, and make
Dinesh Gunawardene (Water Supply and Drainage Minister): On
Wednesday members of the government side and opposition were taking part
in committees such as COPE and Public Protection Committee where public
servants had been summoned. Although aware of this on these occasions
the quorum bell was rung by opposition members.
When the bell was rang at 3.40 pm on Wednesday, there were 54
government side members and 24 opposition members participating in the
committees. When it was rung for the second time at 4.31 pm there were
46 and 13 government and opposition members respectively, taking part in
the committees. Once again the quorum bell was rung at 5.32 pm by an
opposition member. This is not fair as they knew there was a quorum in
Parliament. We maintain a quorum in Parliament whether the opposition
attends or not. We have been democratically elected to serve the public.
So members should act responsibly.
The opposition leader should be ashamed that a member behind him
speaks to set parliament on fire while he speaks of the dignity and
decorum of Parliament.
John Amarathunga (Chief Opposition Whip): When the quorum
bells were rung there were only 2 ministers in the House.
Dinesh Gunawardena (Water Supply and Drainage Minister): Don't
you need to hold the COPE and PSC committees? You are responsible for
the July arousing. Again you are talking to set fire.
Chandima Weerakkody (Deputy Speaker) in Chair: Members of both
parties should act responsibly. The people of the country are watching
you. It is not acceptable to ring the quorum bell for the fun of it
while being aware that members of both, the government and the
opposition were in Parliament attending the committees.
Ranil Wickremesinghe (Opposition Leader): We don't need to set
fire on this beautiful building. No one should say that. This building
was constructed by as.
A.H.M. Azwer (UPFA): Action should be taken against the member
who made that statement.
Chandima Weerakkody (Deputy Speaker): The members of
Parliament of both sides should act with a mutual understanding. Act
comprehending your responsibility or the public will humiliate you.
Drought-affected farmers will be compensated
Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told parliament
yesterday: "Rs 3665 million had been allocated to provide relief for
farmers who lost their crops due to the drought. The President had
instructed to defer the recovery of agricultural loans given to farmers.
"Rs 6000 will be provided to each family and funds provided to
excavate agrarian wells at Rs 1000 per well.
"Among other relief measures proposed was to supply seed paddy free
of charge to the affected farmers to cultivate their lands at the next
season", he said.
Minister Abeywardena responding to a statement made by DNA MP Anura
Kumara Dissanayake said the figures highlighted by the JVP MP were
erroneous. These matters are raised with the intention of scoring cheap
political points. The MP exaggerated the real situation.
DNA MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said: "Crops of thousands of farmers
in the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kurunegala districts were affected
by the lack of water.
"Around 31,500 hectares paddy cultivated under the Kalawewa project
in Anuradhapura, 2500 hectares paddy and 500 hectares of other crops
cultivated under the Giritale project in Polonnaruwa and 16,000 hectares
cultivated under the Hakwatuna and Bathalagoda projects in Kurunegala
"Around 50,000 rupees was spent by a farmer family to cultivate an
acre of paddy. When their crops were destroyed by the drought, each
farmer had spent 40,000 rupees for every acre of land they cultivate.
The cost was covered by loans and mortgages. If the government does not
come to their assistance at this hour of need, their predicament would
would be bleak.
Apart from this loss in the ongoing Yala season, they are faced with
the question of how to finance the cultivation of the next Maha. We
propose that the government should pay a compensation of Rs 75,000 to
farmers for each cultivated acre destroyed' the MP said.