MT New Diamond owners agree to settle Rs 340m interim claim

The owners of oil tanker MT New Diamond have informed the Attorney General of their agreement to settle the entire interim claim of Rs 340 million submitted by Government stakeholders.

AG's Coordinating Officer, State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne stated that the the AG has submitted a further claim of Rs 100 million to the owners of the vessel over services rendered to the tanker up to today. 

Meanwhile, a panel of scientists apppointed by the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) have submitted their interim report to the owners of the vessel. Ms Jayaratne stated that the AG will submit a final claim regarding the environment damage caused by the oil leak from the stricken tanker once the final report is submitted. 

Russian tested positive for COVID-19 in Matara

A Russian airline crew member who was in a tourist hotel in Polhena, Matara has been tested positive for Coronavirus, the Chief Medical Officer of Matara Municipal Council Dr. Achala Gamaethige said.
The Covid patient was among the 15-member Russian airline crew which had arrived at the Mattala International Airport. She said all the crew members have undergone PCR tests.
About 150 persons , including hotel employees and their families have been placed under self quarantine.

Former President warned by CoI probing Easter attacks

Former President Maitripala Sirisena, his private secretary and the three Auxiliary Bishops were warned by the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) probing into last year’s Easter attacks over public statements issued by the parties.

Former President Sirisena and his private secretary Sameera de Silva were warned over issuing media statements against remarks made by former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando at CoI sittings.

The three Auxiliary Bishops were also warned over statements issued regarding the statement made by MP Harin Fernando.

The Commission also warned that any statement that can affect the hearing of the Commission is a punishable offence. Though former President Sirisena was asked to appear before the Commission today (24), his lawyer Maitri Guneratne appeared on his behalf.

The former President’s private secretary arrived at the Commission while only one of the three Auxiliary Bishops, Rev. Maxwell Silva arrived at the Commission.

Cannabis concealed in freezer truck found

Two persons smuggling Kerala Ganja worth Rs 10 million concealed in a freezer truck transporting fish from Thalaimanna to Embilipitiya were arrested by police at Kunchikulam in Madu.

The two suspects, residents of Embilipitiya are to be produced before court today (24)

(Pix by Priyani Mangalika – Nikaweratiya)


U.S. donates locally-procured PPE to support Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 response

U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Alaina B. Teplitz donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Sri Lanka’s Minister of Health, Hon Pavithra Wanniarachchi yesterday (23) as part of the United States’ on-going assistance to Sri Lanka in its response to COVID-19.  The donation includes 23,000 masks, 24,000 nitrile gloves, 600 isolation gowns with hoods, 60 infrared thermometers, 50 portable oxygen concentrators with a large supply of expendable equipment to support their operation, and disinfectants.  The total value of donation was $191,000, the US Embassy said.

The donation was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.  All items were procured locally in keeping with U.S. efforts to support Sri Lanka’s local businesses and industry as they recover from COVID-19’s economic impact.  As part of its private sector engagement with the apparel industry and the Sri Lanka’s Export Development board, the United States has funded capacity building trainings that have aided new exporters in accessing the U.S. market.

“These donations from the American people accomplish two shared goals: protecting the health and safety of Sri Lankans and supporting Sri Lankan jobs,” said Ambassador Teplitz.  “Providing sustainable assistance that enables Sri Lanka’s economic recovery is a hallmark of the U.S.-Sri Lanka partnership.”

In Sri Lanka alone, the United States has provided more than $26 million in health assistance over the last 20 years and this latest donation, builds on more than $6 million in COVID-19 assistance in 2020.  On behalf of the American people, the Ambassador recently presented 200 brand-new, high-quality ventilators that enable Sri Lanka’s health providers to deliver quality care that could save lives.  Meanwhile, the American people are also helping Sri Lankan children resume their schooling via support for a national media campaign that encourages children and parents to follow seven important lessons to limit the spread of COVID-19. The United States continues to be one of the world’s largest providers of bilateral assistance in health. Since 2009, the American people have generously funded more than $100 billion in health assistance and nearly $70 billion in humanitarian assistance globally.


In Pictures: Huge boulder blocks Colombo-Hatton Main Road

The road between Colombo and Hatton has been blocked for traffic at Rampadeniya in the Ginigathhena police division due to a large boulder falling onto the main road this morning (24).

Drivers have been asked to use alternate routes through Kalugala and Norton Bridge. 

The police and the Road Development Authority officials are involved in clearing the boulder away from the road. (PCK)

Pix by G. Krishanthan 

Maithri and Secretary before Easter Sunday Commission today

Former President Maithripala Sirisena and his private secretary have been directed to appear before the Commission of inquiry probing the Easter Sunday attacks for issuing a statement regarding the ongoing inquiry.

The Secretary of the former President had issued a statement refuting statements made by former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando.

The counsel appearing for Mr Fernando has claimed that the issuing of the statement has put the former Defence Secretary under undue pressure.

Meanwhile three Auxiliary Bishops of Colombo who also issued a statement regarding the evidence given by MP Harin Fernando before the Commission also have been summoned before the Commission.

Raddella Holdings launches Sri Lanka’s first Biotech Insulin manufacturing plant 

Raddella Holdings has introduced yet another revolutionary first with the launch of Sri Lanka’s first and only biotech insulin manufacturing plant. 
The recently concluded groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 18, at the Koggala Export Processing Zone. The landmark event was attended by a host of dignitaries and guests including the State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production, Supply, and Regulation (Prof.) Channa Jayasumana, Minister of Tourism – Prasanna Ranatunga, Minister of Plantation – (Dr.) Ramesh Pathirana, State Minister of Rural and School Sports Infrastructure Development – Thenuka Vidanagamage and many more. 
The operation of the new plant will involve a joint venture between the Premium International Injectable Company (Pvt) Ltd, a subsidiary of Raddella Holdings and the State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC). All new products manufactured as a result of this venture will be done under the SPMC brand name, with full government supervision, the company said in a media release. 
The biotechnology manufacturing plant is a Rs. 3.5 billion, 100 per cent local investment, which will employ over 200 specialized and highly trained professionals. All technology used in manufacturing will be state-of-the-art and conform to the highest tier of European standardization. This new plant has the capacity to meet 100 per cent of projected local demand for the next 15 years. The surplus produced thereafter will be exported and provide a valuable source of foreign revenue. 
The new plant will utilize world famous SCADA systems to monitor and control the plant, all equipment, and the entire manufacturing process. This will guarantee the highest level of quality control, where all records of manufacture are completely automated and thus tamper-proof. Other quality control methods include adhering to the European Union Goods Manufacturing Practice (EUGMP), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), while also complying with the strict standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). 
The extensive planning for the plant happened over the last two years, in this time all designs, technology transfers, and specialist training have been completed, with all approvals and certification having been obtained. With construction completed soon, the plant will commence operations shortly. 
The release said that all drugs manufactured via this new venture will be custom made and specifically designed for the needs of the local consumer. 
Speaking at the launch, Managing Director – CEO, Thushira Raddella said: “The opening of Sri Lanka’s first biotechnology manufacturing plant is a momentous occasion for the whole country. In fact, the SPMC has done an outstanding job in ensuring a project of this magnitude is possible. It is also a step in the right direction as we embrace the virtue of self-reliance as a nation. The venture which is a 100 per cent local investment will operate to European standards. This will ensure that all Sri Lankans have access to excellent quality medication, however at just a fraction of the current cost of expensive foreign imports. We have worked tirelessly with multiple stakeholders and completed all designs, technology transfers, and specialist training – the construction is just the last tip of the iceberg.” 
Raddella Holdings is a family enterprise founded in 1984 by Nihal Raddella, a visionary in the field of finance and civil engineering. The organisation has since expanded and today to the second generation of the Raddella family which continues this progressive vision with a diversified conglomerate that employs over 1000 employees and has a presence in several key sectors. 

Above: Thushira Raddella, Managing Director/CEO, Raddella Holdings speaking at the event.