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Cabinet approval has been received to hold the provincial council elections under the mixed electoral system, Minister of Local Government Faiszer Musthapha announced yesterday (6). Under the new system a 60:40 ratio will be maintained between the proportional representation and first-past-the-post systems. The Minister also said a new committee comprising elections department officials and political parties would be formed to discuss any changes to the laws in the future.  

A rise in the risk of cancer has been detected among people living in farming colonies says Professor of the Rajarata Medical Faculty Dr Channa Jayasumana. He said a sharp rise in liver, breast and stomach cancer was seen in residents. Dr Jayasumana said he suspected that the pesticides used in farming were the cause in the rise. Research was been carried on into the causes of the rise. Areas in the Padavi, Sri Puram Kavudulla and Samapura area were worst affected by the disease.  

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference has slammed some social media users for sharing pictures bearing the face of a politician superimposed on an image of Christ. The Conference in a statement said such images hurt the sentiments of over a billion people. They urged authorities to deal with such insulting images. 

New work hours are planned for Government offices in the Battaramulla area from 18 September to help ease traffic congestion, Secretary of Home Affairs J.J. Ratnasiri announced yesterday (8). Under the plan, government offices in Battaramulla will function from 7.30am to 3.15pm with staff given the option to work from 9.15am to 5.30pm.   

United States Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Alice Wells, says Sri Lanka is unnecessarily burdened with debt after obtaining commercial loans from China. Ms Wells made these remarks before a Congress committee hearing recently.

Indian Premier Narendra Modi says India is seeking to strengthen Indo – Lanka ties and foster a closer relationship between the two neighbours. The Indian premier was speaking to media after meeting new Sri Lankan Tilak Marapone in New Delhi on Saturday (9). Marapone is in New Delhi for a three-day official tour of the country and is the foreign minister’s first overseas trip since taking office. 

Former speaker of Parliament Joseph Michael Perera and former minister Felix Perera have called for a stop to the practice of draining wetlands in Muthurajawala and Ja-ela areas. The former parliamentarians were speaking at a Ja-ela District Development Committee meeting recently. They also blamed the ad-hoc development policies of the respective local authorities for the situation. Recent rains have caused widespread flooding in the area and the committee blamed the loss of wetlands as the primary cause.  

The Joint Opposition has announced a fund collection drive to pay the fine imposed on former presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunga and TRC director general Anusha Palpita. The pair were convicted of misappropriating state funds and sentenced to 3 years in prison. A fine of 50 million was also imposed on the former public servants to be paid personally. Parliamentarian Bandula Gunawardena said the decision to distribute the sil redi was for the Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi celebrations and was an order carried out of presidential directive. 

The National Building Research Organization (NBRO) has issued landslide warning to 3 districts hit by heavy rains. The warnings were issued for Galle, Kalutara and Nuwara Eliya districts and encouraged residents to be mindful of any signs of impending landslides. Assistant Director of the Disaster Management Center, Pradeep Kodippili, also issued warning for the 3 districts.

Galle district recorded a rainfall of 119mm yesterday. Habarana received 70mm of rain. Several houses have been damaged in flooding around the Madhu River. Several roads are also reported to be flooded.   

The Joint Opposition is reported to be considering a no-confidence motion in parliament against Minister Sarath Fonseka following his controversial remarks recently. The former army commander recently said he would testify against General Jagath Jayasuriya on alleged war crimes charges. They also urged President Maithripala Sirisena to take action against the minister. The JO has planned protests against the minister in several parts of the island. 

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