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“Vishishta Seva Vibhushana” awarded to 77 senior military officers

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that although lives lost during the war cannot be regained, the income lost during the economic war could be regained.

The President also pointed out that the stability of political and territorial integrity of a country is the best factor to win over the economic war.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made this statement while addressing the ceremony held today (01) at the Presidential Palace in Kandy to present the distinguished service awards “Vishishta Seva Vibhushana” to 77 senior officers of the Tri Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force). The award ceremony was organized in conjunction with the 75th Independence Day celebrations.

The Vishishta Seva Vibhushana is a unique award and is awarded only to officers of the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and above in the Army and officers holding similar ranks in the Navy and Air Force who have served at least 25 years of continuous service and holds an unblemished a service record.

In relation to the years 2019, 2020, 2021, 53 Army officers, 17 Navy officers and 7 Air Force officers were awarded medals during today’s ceremony.

The President also presented the 75th Independence Anniversary Commemorative Medals to 20 Tri-Forces personnel.

Expressing his views at the ceremony, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said,

“Today we have awarded the “Vishishta Seva Vibhushana” awards to those who deserve this Medal. Also, these service awards were given on the occasion of the 75th Independence Anniversary. I congratulate all the recipients of these medals today. I also extend my appreciation for your service.

This event is the first event to be held to mark the 75th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence. There is a reason to hold this event for the armed forces.

National leaders of the past, led by the Hon. D.S. Senanayake gained freedom for our country. Today, some act as though the country automatically gained independence. Freedom was not gained automatically.

There were 2 countries that supported the Allies in Asia during World War II. One was China and the other was Sri Lanka. But, only Sri Lanka had a legislature which was elected by franchise.

After appreciating the support given for the Second World War by the former leader of the council Mr. D.B. Jayathilika and afterwards Hon. D.S. Senanayake, the British Prime Minister Mr. Winston Churchill said that Sri Lanka would be given freedom after the war on one condition, that India were given freedom first. That is how we got this freedom.

During World War II, the Council of State decided to support the allied countries. In addition, Sri Lankan officials volunteered to support World War II.

Mr.D.S. Senanayake appreciated the release and formed three armed forces from those troops. If we supported the Second World War and gained independence, we should also honour the service of our three armed forces during this anniversary celebration.

For the safety of the nation, members of our security forces gave their lives in battle. Our Army was founded during a world war. It protected democracy over the world. The second war was to preserve Sri Lanka’s unity and territorial integrity. Our armed forces sacrificed their lives for that.

We should keep in mind this outstanding contribution performed by our armed forces as we commemorate the nation’s independence as a republic. Therefore, I made the decision to host the first ceremonial event in connection with the 75th Independence Day for the Armed Forces.

Our three armed forces are now not only in Sri Lanka they serve as a UN peacekeepers as well. In the future, we intend to increase the number of recruits for this peacekeeping force.

We commemorated our 50th anniversary of independence while the nation was at war. We are commemorating our 75th Independence Day at a time when there is another conflict. It is not a battle in which we individually take a weapon and engage in combat. A significant economic battle is currently underway.

The country’s economy has now totally collapsed. Our nation’s economic freedom will vanish if we don’t rebuild that economy and rescue ourselves from this debt trap. If the economic freedom of the country is lost, political freedom is of no use. We cannot surrender to the economic powers of the world today. Building this economy should therefore be our priority.

Make means for the people to live, and revive their lost sources of income. I am aware of the fact that many people are facing difficulties today. Some government employees are facing a situation where nothing of their salaries is spared after settling their loan installments and taxes. We all bear this pressure and we will be able to get rid of this pressure.

I met the U.S. Under-Secretary for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland today. She further expressed the US Government’s support for the ongoing recovery efforts in our country. Hence we have been expressed support by many countries.

I believe that during the next two to three months, we would be able to complete this debt restructuring process. The dialogues with India and China have reached the final stage. When we reach the agreement for debt restructuring from the International Monetary Fund, it would be accepted by the rest of the world.

I believe that we would have a better economic situation by the end of this year. At the same time, we would get an opportunity to provide some relief to all government employees. We must drive this program forward and we are not in a position to get out of it. If we are on the right path, we have to be strategic and only then victory could be achieved.

There is only one difference between terrorist war and economic war. Lives were lost those days during the terrorist war. Today we have lost the income. That’s the only difference. We cannot give a new life to those who lost but the lost income can be recovered. As a government, we are all committed to reviving it under this program.

I believe that we can move forward reviving the economic freedom along with the political freedom back then we won while protecting the territorial integrity.

State Minister of Defence Pramitha Bandara Thennakoon, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Mr Sagala Ratnayake, President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, Secretary of Defence General Kamal Gunaratne (retd.) Chief of Defence Staff Shavendra Silva, Army Commander Lieutenant General Wikum Liyanage, Air Force Commander Air Vice Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera and officers of Tri Forces participated in the event.

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Expressways generate whopping income during Avurudu season

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The expressways have generated an income of Rs. 159,802,950 from April 10 – 13, Road Development Authority (RDA) says.

According to the Director of Expressway Operation Maintenance and Management Division – R.A.D. Kahatapitiya.

Over 4,350,000 vehicles have used the expressways during this period, he has added.
As many as 366,000 vehicles have used the expressways during this three-day period.

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Special transport arrangements to those returning to Colombo

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Special train services are in operation from this evening (April 14) for people to return to Colombo after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year holidays, the Railways Department said.

Deputy General Manager of Sri Lanka Railways –  N.J. Indipolage stated that accordingly, eight additional train journeys will be in operation from Badulla, Galle and Beliatta railway stations to Colombo Fort.

The Department of Railways also mentioned that the office trains will be operational as per usual from April 16.

Meanwhile, the National Transport Commission has said that special buses will be deployed to transport those who had gone to their hometowns during the New Year.
Bus associations have also stated that buses to Colombo will be operational.

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Local multi-day fishing trawler seized with ICE & heroin worth over Rs. 3798 Mn.

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In another successful intelligence operation of the Sri Lanka Navy, a local multi-day fishing trawler (01) carrying a large haul of narcotics, with 06 suspects aboard, were intercepted about 133 nautical miles (about 246 km) off Dondra, south of Sri Lanka. 

The operation also resulted in the seizure of another local one-day fishing trawler (01) with 04 suspects, believed to have been there to fetch the consignment of narcotics mid-sea. The operation was mounted by deploying Sri Lanka Coast Guard Ship (SLCG) Samudraraksha which made the apprehension on 12th April 2024.

 The haul of narcotics included about 179kg and 906g of crystal methamphetamine (Ice) and about 83kg and 582g of heroin (with their packages). The Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera arrived at the Galle Harbour on 13th April to inspect the consignment of narcotics held in this operation.
The Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard regularly patrol and conduct search operations along the island’s coast to prevent illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, stemming via sea routes.

During this dedicated operation based on naval intelligence, a suspicious multi-day fishing trawler, which was about 133 nautical miles (246 km) off the south coast of the island, was intercepted and searched by SLCG Samudraraksha. As the fishing trawler was suspected of smuggling a haul of crystal methamphetamine and heroin in 17 sacks, during the search, the narcotic-carrying trawler was held on 12th April, with 06 suspects aboard.

Additionally, SLCG Samudraraksha inspected another local one-day fishing trawler, which was plying suspiciously in the sea area. During the inspection, 04 suspects were apprehended, along with the trawler, on suspicion of attempting to exchange narcotics with the multi-day trawler previously seized.

Following a thorough search of the suspicious multi-day fishing trawler at the Galle Harbour on 13th April, authorities recovered 17 sacks containing crystal methamphetamine and heroin. The haul of crystal methamphetamine, weighing about 179kg and 906g (including packages), were in 129 packages, stuffed in 13 sacks and the stash of heroin, weighing about 83kg and 582g (including packages), were in 76 packages, contained in 04 sacks. The consignment of narcotics, along with the 06 suspects and the multi-day fishing trawler was handed over to the Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB) for onward legal action.

Moreover, the 04 individuals, along with the one-day fishing trawler, which were seized on suspicion of being involved in a drug exchange at sea, were also handed over to PNB for further legal action.

The individuals held in the operation are known to reside in the Weligama, Imaduwa, and Galle areas, ranging in age from 23 to 54 years old. Meanwhile, the gross street value of the consignment of drugs seized during this operation is believed to be more than Rs. 3798 million.

Including the recent confiscation, the Sri Lanka Navy has held drugs with a gross street value of over Rs. 9300 million during operations mounted so far in 2024. The Sri Lanka Navy – the country’s first line of defence is committed to coordinating with other law enforcement authorities, to carry out anti-drug operations of this nature in order to foil drug smuggling attempts being made in the guise of fishing.

(navy.lk)

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