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Conservator General of Forests refutes reports on SL forest cover

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The Conservator General of Forests Mr. K.M.A Bandara said that the media reports implying that Sri Lanka’s forest cover has decreased to 16% are false.

The President’s Media Division says that Mr. Bandara has said this in response to a query made over the media reports on the instructions of President’s Secretary Mr. Saman Ekanayake and that the Presidential Secretariat had focused its attention regarding these media reports.

The PMD statement issued in this regard further says :

The assessment of forest cover is carried out every five years and the census conducted in 2020 is scheduled to be completed in June this year. According to the census conducted in 2015, the natural forests of Sri Lanka stood at 29.15% (1,912,970 hectares) of the total land extent.

The Conservator General of Forests also said that although there has been some reduction in the amount of forests due to various development activities and other human activities in the country, there has definitely been no decrease in the amount of forests up to 16%  as stated in the media reports.

 According to media reports, if the forest area in Sri Lanka is 16% of the total land extent, then the existing forest area in the country should be 1,040,000 hectares. This means that 872,970 hectares of forests should have been destroyed during the seven years from 2015, which is 124,710 hectares per year and  341 hectares of forest destruction per day.

He also said that the method used to assess the forests should have been described in the presentation of data on forests. Basic points such as the definition of forests, the method of estimating forest size, and the estimation of forest size should have been mentioned in the report. However, there is no source from which the relevant data was obtained in the media reports suggesting that the forest cover had decreased.

The Conservator General further stated that if there is widespread forest destruction, as reported in the media, it should have been observed by the Department of Forest, the Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Sri Lanka Police, and the Sri Lanka Air Force, which monitors forests from the air. However, such extensive forest destruction has not been reported to any of these institutions. He also stated that the Forest Department is updating forest maps and that no such forest destruction was observed during those activities.

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No COVID-19 deaths yesterday

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No COVID-19 deaths have been confirmed yesterday (29) by the Director-General of Health Services.

Accordingly, the current COVID-19 death toll remains at 16,828.

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Racecourse murder : Boyfriend further remanded

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The university student who was held in remand custody for allegedly murdering his girlfriend with a sharp weapon at Race Course grounds in Colombo has been remanded further.

Taking up the case today (30) Colombo Chief Magistrate Prasanna Alwis ordered him to be further remanded till February 13.

The magisterial inquest into the death was held today before Colombo Chief Magistrate and

A testimony of the deceased’s father was recorded before Chief Magistrate and further magisterial inquiry was fixed for February 13.

The suspect was not produced before Court by prison authorities since he is currently receiving treatment at the Mental Health Unit of prison hospital.

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Constitutional Council approves several judicial appointments

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The Constitutional Council met today (30) in Parliament presided by Speaker and the Chairman of the Constitutional Council – Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Sajith Premadasa, Leader of the Opposition, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, MPs Sagara Kariyawasam, other council members Dr. Prathap Ramanujam, Dr. (Mrs) Dilkushi Anula Wijesundere, Dr. (Mrs) Dinesha Samararatne were present at the Council meeting held.

MP Kabir Hashim, had informed his inability to attend this meeting due to unavoidable circumstances.

The Constitutional Council considered the recommendation of the President to appoint K.P. Fernando, President of the Court of Appeal as a Judge of the Supreme Court, to the post which fell vacant with the retirement of L.T.B. Dehideniya, Judge of the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Council unanimously approved the above recommendation.

Further the Constitutional Council unanimously approved the nomination of N.B.P.D.S. Karunarathna, Judge of the Court of Appeal to be appointed as the President of the Court of Appeal, and the nomination of Mr M.A.R. Marikkar, High Court Judge to be appointed as a Judge of the Court of Appeal to the resultant vacancies.  

The Constitutional Council further decided to publish the advertisement on newspapers of 1st February 2023, calling for applications for the appointment as Members of the Commissions specified in Schedule to Article 41B of the Constitution. Draft format of the application would be published on the Official Parliament website. The deadline to submit applications is 15th February 2023.

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