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Environment Protection played a major role long before CEA

Although the World Environment is not mentioned in Local Government enactments, Local Authorities in Sri Lanka, were playing an important role in the management and protection of the environment, long before Central Environmental Authority was established in 1981, Secretary to the Kurunegala Pradeshiya Sabha I. A. Bandara said at an awareness programme organised by the Environmental Unit on “Role of Local Government in the Management and Protection of Environment.”

“Before the Central Environmental Authority was set up, the main statutory authorities which looked after the environmental aspects of community life at local level were the Municipal Councils, Urban Councils, Town Councils and Village Councils,” Bandara added.

At the time, there was no need to pay special attention to environment as such, however, matters related to the environment were implemented through activities on environmental sanitation, public health, road development, drainage, physical planning, regulation of dangerous and offensive trades and control of unauthorised constructions.

During the last three decades ‘environment’ has become a very important subject area which receives special attention, not only at National level but at regional and International level.

The Secretary also observed that with the establishment of the Central Environmental Authority in 1981 under the provisions of the National Environmental Act No. 56 of 1980 and a special Cabinet Ministry for Environment in 1990, the role of Local Authorities in management and protection of environment at local level was receiving more recognition.

A scheme of decentralization of environmental functions was formulated in 1993 and is being implemented, with the active participation of the Local Authorities.

In order, to facilitate and strengthen the environmental role of Local Authorities, some of the powers including the power to issue Environmental Protection Licences for the low polluting industries, have been delegated to Local Authorities by the Central Environmental Authority in terms of Section 26 of the National Environmental Act.

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