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State-of-the-Art Disaster Early Warning System launched

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Under the auspices of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, a sophisticated disaster early warning system was officially introduced today (19), marking a collaborative effort involving the Disaster Management Centre, Sri Lanka Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and major telephone service providers including SLT Mobitel, Hutch, Dialog and Airtel. 

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) formalizing this strategic initiative was also signed at the President’s Office today. 

Director General of the Disaster Management Centre Major General S. Ranasinghe (Retired) and Director General of the Sri Lanka Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Mr. Madhushanka Dissanayake, were the signatories to the MoU. Notable stakeholders, including Group Chief Executive Officer of Dialog Axiata Mr. Supun Weerasinghe, Group Chief Executive Officer of Sri Lanka Telecom Mr. Janaka R. Abeysinghe, Chief Executive Officer of Bharti Airtel Lanka Mr. Ashish Chandra, Chief Operating Officer of Mobitel Pvt. Ltd. Mr. Sudarshan Giganage and Acting Chief Executive Officer of Hutchison Telecommunications Lanka Pvt. Ltd Mr. Samitra Gupta were actively involved in the signing ceremony.

The primary objective of this state-of-the-art disaster early warning system is to fortify the existing mechanism, ensuring the safety and well-being of Sri Lankan citizens amidst various disasters, including those caused by weather and climate changes. The system leverages cutting-edge technology to deliver more effective early warnings through telephone communication networks.

Specifically focusing on tsunami disasters, the system targets nearly sixty thousand (60,000) mobile and landline numbers in 14 districts identified as high-risk areas. It is designed to promptly issue an immediate early warning in the form of a distinctive “Ring Tone” notification accompanied by a siren sound.

This will establish a more robust early warning mechanism for the public, utilizing phone notifications featuring a siren sound, particularly effective during night-time hours.

Scheduled for a public rollout on “National Security Day” on December 26, 2023, the system’s scope is anticipated to expand in the future, evolving into a comprehensive multi-disaster early warning mechanism. This expansion aims to include landslides and floods, further enhancing its utility and impact.

The high-profile event was attended by key dignitaries, including State Minister for Defence Mr.  Pramita Bandara Thennakoon, President’s Senior Advisor on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Mr. Sagala Ratnayake, Secretary to the Defence Ministry General Kamal Gunaratne (Retired) and Directors of the Disaster Management Centre, Brigadier T.C. Harasgama and Mr. Pradeep Kodippili were among others. 

(President’s Media Division)

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School outdoor activities suspended over soaring temperatures

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The Education Ministry has instructed all respective school authorities to refrain from making students participate in strenuous outdoor activities until Friday (March 01) at schools as temperatures are expected to rise further.

Accordingly, Sports Day events, sports practices or any other scheduled outdoor activities are urged to be suspended for the time being.

Provincial and zonal authorities of education have been instructed to brief school principals about the matter, the ministry said in a press release.

In addition, school administrations are required to comply with the health guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry.

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Court suspends divestiture process of SLT & Lanka Hospitals

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The Court of Appeal yesterday (27) issued an interim order preventing authorities from proceeding with the divestiture process of Sri Lanka Telecom and Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC, until March 12.

Three Petitions were filed for Sri Lanka Telecom PLC including by Lyca Mobiles, and S.M.R. M company, while two petitions were filed for Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC including by Lyca Leasing Holdings.

Upon the oral submissions made by President’s Counsel Kuvera De Zoysa, Court of Appeal Justice D.N. Samarakoon issued notices on respondents, returnable for March 12.

The petitioners named Minister of Finance Ranil Wickremesinghe, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, the members of the special Cabinet-appointed negotiating committee for the purpose of selecting pre-qualified bidders for the strategic divestiture pertaining to 51.34% shares of Lanka Hospitals PLC and several others as respondents.

Kuvera De Zoysa, PC with Raslka Dissanayake, Sajana de Zoysa, Dinusha Pathirana and Shablr Huzalr instructed by Sanath Wijewardane appeared for the petitioners.

The petitioners had informed the court that they had submitted bids per the required criteria for the divestiture of the Sri Lankan Government’s shares of 50.23% in Sri Lanka Telecom PLC and 51.34% in Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC.

The petitioners alleged that, however, the Cabinet of Ministers had rejected the bids without providing any clear explanations, adding that the decision was against the law.

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Lankan convict in Gandhi assassination case passes away

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Santhan alias T Suthendiraraja, a Sri Lankan national who was one of the six convicts released in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, died on Wednesday morning at the Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital (RGGH) in Chennai.

Santhan, who was released by the Indian Supreme Court in November 2022, was kept at the special camp near the Tiruchirapalli Central Prison.

Last week, the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Chennai issued an order to deport Santhan to Sri Lanka, however, he was admitted to the RGGH for treatment for a kidney-related ailment.

Addressing the reports, E Thenirajan, Dean, RGGH, said that based on the directions of the Tiruchirapalli district collector, Santhan was admitted to the hospital on January 27.

Thenirajan said a team of doctors were treating him at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and constantly monitoring him. He said Santhan was diagnosed with cryptogenic cirrhosis or a liver disease.

“He suffered a setback to his health yesterday (Tuesday) night. He had lost consciousness and we were providing treatment. Around 4.30 am today (Wednesday), he suffered a cardiac arrest. He was revived following a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) procedure and was on ventilator support. However, he failed to respond to further treatment and passed away at 7.50 am,” he said.

Thenirajan said they would carry out the post-mortem procedures now and take further measures to send his body to Sri Lanka.

According to court documents, Santhan is believed to have fled then strife-torn Sri Lanka in 1991 and reached India by boat, along with Sivarasan, who led the assassination team and was never caught alive, and a few others. According to the Supreme Court order, Santhan’s role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was direct and active.

Santhan was initially sentenced to death for his involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, however, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was released in November 2022, along with five other convicts, after spending over three decades in prison.

(The Indian Express)

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