Daily News Online

Wednesday, 19 May 2010






Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Balancing nature and development

Protecting the environment and carrying out development projects is a balancing act, says Environment Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa. Following are the excerpts of the interview.

[The Ďgreení areas]

* Environment and development

* Climate change

* Solid waste management

*Managing human-elephant conflict

* Illegal mining


Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa

Q: How are you going to balance environment protection with the major development plans implemented?

A: When considering development, it is also necessary that we have to provide facilities for development projects. But while giving priority to development projects, we have to think about the environmental aspect as well. We, as the Ministry, have to do a balancing act. While preserving the environment, we have to provide facilities for sustainable development.

We have several mechanisms to do it. The Central Environment Authority (CEA) is capable of handling all the issues when it comes to development and environment. For any development project one has to get a licence from the Environment Authority. So we have the capacity, capability and ability to cope with that. CEA is the key in this mechanism. Except in the North and Eastern provinces, the CEA has branches everywhere in the country.

While guiding the CEA in its work, I believe that there has to be a balance between environment protection and development of industries in the country. We will take examples from other countries.

Q: What are the major contemporary issues your Ministry is concerned about?

A: Speaking in a global context, we are concerned about the climate change issue. A number of countries and parts of those countries have felt the impact of the rising sea level. As an island, we have to get ready for that. That is one of our priorities. We will have to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. The emission levels of most developed countries are very high. But in a country like Sri Lanka, we do not have such an issue, since our emission levels are very low. Developed countries want to carry out their development uninterrupted, and want us to reduce those gas emissions. There is no consensus when it comes to climate change.

Solid waste management is one of the key areas that we have to look into. We have initiated discussions with local bodies to provide us with facilities in every province for solid waste management solutions.

We also need to have a separate discussion on solid waste management specially for the Western Province and Colombo. We have to educate people in every household to separate the garbage as recyclable and other waste. We will carry out a campaign in this regard. This was started by my predecessor and I will continue with that. We have to encourage people to follow this method.

We will also look at protecting the environment pertaining to other areas. We will have to work very closely with the Local Government Ministry as well as the Provincial Councils.

Protecting the flora and fauna is also needed. Even marine pollution will be looked into.

Another important aspect is reforestation. That is also a must. We have attached great priority to this particular issue, including reforestation in hill tops. The forest cover is becoming very thin in those areas. For this too we are going to start a campaign. We will also deal with the human-elephant conflict. It is becoming a serious issue in various parts of the island. Elephants come out of the jungles and they encroach human habitats. As a result there is a conflict. Elephants damage houses, destroy cultivation and kill people. However, we have to protect those animals too. So, we are going to work very closely with the Economic Development Ministry to find solutions to that issue too. Even noise pollution and air pollution pose a huge threat. Those are the key areas we plan to tackle.

Q: Illegal sand mining and gem mining are continuing on a large scale. How would you deal with this problem?

A: Illegal sand mining and gem mining is also a serious issue. Sand construction work is taken on a large scale and we have to enforce laws strictly to work this. We have large gem deposits in the country. Even outside the Ratnapura area. Even in some places like Anuradhapura we have found that gem deposits are available. So we are going to conduct a survey in the entire country not only on gems, but other minerals too. Once we get the results, we will be able to take action. At the same time, we must also support the gem industry.

There are a lot of environment issues coming to us daily. So what Iím trying is to get the CEA and the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau, to tackle each and every problem in an effective manner. They will have to submit a report in the end. So, I will be able to analyze whether they have taken necessary actions.

Q: How will you coordinate with NGOs and other private institutions which contribute to the conservation of nature?

A: We want to work with them very closely. As long as they are helping us we are very happy about it. I want to meet them. We can have a forum to meet periodically to get their ideas and combine them with ours to come to a conclusion about various issues.

Q: Awareness programs in schools will be helpful in your effort to solve environmental problems. Has your Ministry initiated such plans?

A: We have started awareness programs in schools. They were there even during the time of my predecessor. The Indian IOC has started a program of replanting in schools. They met me recently and they want to continue it. We want help from other institutions too. All can help us in this endeavour. They can initiate programs such as taking responsibility of part of the city and keeping it nice.

Q: What is your objective in holding this particular Ministry?

A: I really like this Ministry. The President has kept trust in me to hand over this Ministry that is very responsible. I will try my best to discharge my duties to the best of my ability. I am a nature lover myself and, I have always wanted to take measures to protect the environment.


Donate Now | defence.lk
LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL)

| News | Editorial | Business | Features | Political | Security | Sport | World | Letters | Obituaries |

Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2010 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor