Thursday, 2 September 2004  
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CEA to enlist Grama Niladharis to fight environmental pollution

The Central Environmental Authority will enlist the services of Grama Niladharis to identify instances of environmental pollution and supply information on attempts to encroach on environmentally protected areas throughout the country.

As a first step, the CEA is to hold seminars and workshops for Grama Niladharis to make them aware of environmental problems facing many areas particularly matters affecting their areas so that they may be vigilant and report instances of environmental pollution.

The first of these seminars for the Garama Niladharis was held recently at the CEA headquarters at Battaramulla where these village level officers of Kaduwela, Nugegoda and Kolonnawa areas in the Colombo District attended.

Chairman of the GEA Tilak Ranaviraja, addressing the opening session of this seminar said that the CEA decided to seek the co-operation of the Grama Niladharis in the task of environmental protection as it is they who are ideally positioned to identify instances of environmental pollution indulged in by various organisations and individuals.

He said that the Grama Niladharis could render a valuable service to report instances of disposal of garbage and other untreated waste material in unauthorised areas by various industries, organisations and households. They also would be able to supply information on environmentally protected areas like parks, forests, lakes, rivers, tanks and wetlands if unauthorized encroaches are made on them to pollute them. The Grama Niladharis would be provided information about these sites in their areas so that they could be vigilant.

Ranviraja said that the Grama Niladharis are Government officials closest to villages and would know intimately the conditions of the areas and the people.

"The Grama Nilandharis who live among the people would be ideally placed to identify environmental problems and instances of violation of environmental laws such as unauthorized filling of land, pollution of environmentally protected sites, unauthorised construction and indiscriminate disposal of waste material. "Apart from their official responsibility they should as civic conscious citizens should take a special interest in these environmental problems so that remedial measures could be taken in the interest of the future generation', Ranaviraja said.

He said that CEA has identified several environmental problems in the Kaduwela, Nugegoda and Kolonnawa areas where unauthorized filling of land, disposal of untreated garbage and waste material and unauthorized construction take place on a wide scale. They should report these instances to the CEA so that necessary action could be taken to protect these areas.

Director General of CEA Manel Jayamanne, Deputy Director General (Environmental Education) Lalitha Fonseka outined the objectives of the seminar. Lectures were provided on how the Grama Niladharis should educate the public about environmental issues, the specific environmental problems and how they should implement programmes of action in tacking these problems.

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