The Cabinet has approved a national program with regard to conserving the environment. Entitled “Punarudaya” and adopted at the Cabinet meeting held on October 14 which was proposed by President Maithripala Sirisena who is also the Environmental Minister. The program consists of six key areas: Controlling Environmental Pollution; Conserving and Developing Forests; Sustainable Land Management; Resolving the Conflict between Wild Animals and Humans; Conservation of Bio-resources; and Promoting and Restructuring Institutions Related to Environmental Conservation. The goal of the program is to create a sustainable environment in the country within three years (2016-2018).
The National Program will consult and take in all relevant parties to solve crucial issues and problems identified in each of the six key areas.
Several subsidiary programs have been planned under each area, with three programs coming under “Conservation and Development of Forests” (“Wana Ropa”, “Wana Arana Rekavarana”, and “Wana Sarana”). All programs have been named and allocated a specific target and deadline, including the proposed setting up of district-level “Environmental Forces” as envisioned under the sixth area, “Promoting and Restructuring Institutions Related to Environmental Conservation”.
The subsidiary programs have targeted institutions already in place in Sri Lanka as well as institutions to be set up by the Program per se. Under the first key area “Controlling Environmental Pollution”, for instance, waste management of existing Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas under a subsidiary program entitled “Nikasala Purawara” has been planned on, while ambitious programs such as the proposed increase of forest cover from the current 6,000 hectares (“Wana Ropa”) would need the restructuring and reforming of present institutions.
The overall National Program aims at both developing existing frameworks and ameliorating social ills which contribute to the degradation of the environment. As per the overall plan, area-specific zones will also be set up to manage upcoming challenges in the environment by the setting up of 50 climate adoptive villages to face climate changes and other key resources are to be conserved in various key areas as well, ranging from “Sustainable Land Management” to “Conservation of Bio-Resources”.