July 09, Colombo: The international interest Sri Lanka had in the 18th and 19th centuries has returned today Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera said implementing the concept of "Green Clubs".
The 'Green Clubs', a community based environmental protection program, was launched Monday (08) at the Hilton in Colombo under the patronage of Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera. All Divisional Secretaries of the island participated in the program.
The initiative, which is being implemented at a cost of Rs 450 million, is expected to empower the community to protect the environment.
The government has fulfilled over 60 percent of the budget proposals presented in March, said the Minister adding that a total of 84 proposals were presented and only 16 proposals are left to be implemented.
He said the launch of the Green Club which will take place in two months from Colombo is fulfilling yet another budget proposal.
Addressing the gathering, Minister Samaraweera said that the aim of the program is to get the people at the village level participated in the task of protecting the environment and make them partners in protecting the planet.
Samaraweera said that today world is focusing more on global warming, safeguarding of the environment and animals and fauna, reforestation of forests, reducing emissions and especially on the dumping of polythene and plastic.
"Preserving the environment has become one of the world's main topics. This is the number one topic discussed in advanced countries. The era of invasion of countries by other countries in the world is over. Instead, there has been another invasion. That is the invasion of polythene and plastic."
"Recently, I saw a herd of elephants eating polythene. Those sad scenes brought to my mind many problems. Sri Lanka has been named the best destination for world travel. The world was interested in Sri Lanka in the 18th and 19th centuries to write books. Today, a similar interest has arisen in the world about visits to Sri Lanka."
"After the Easter Attacks, many of us thought that it would not be easy to rebuild tourism. We also believe it will take a long time. But according to some travel magazines around the world, Sri Lanka is still the world's number one tourist destination after the bombing. But it is doubtful whether that will last long."
"On a holiday like Sunday, heaps of trash are found on Sri Lankan beaches. Some tourists clean them up but sadly some of us wait for them to be overseen. But we should give our children a formal knowledge about this from an early age. We need to create a new generation who love the environment. That is what the Green Societies are trying to do."
He said the program should not be limited to one government. "We are preparing to present the Green Society Act in Parliament with the intention of taking the environment protection forward, whichever party comes to power."
"Protection of the environment is not government's responsibility alone. From the school child to the pensioner should contribute. Through the concept of a local green garden, we are ready to introduce a voluntary environment protection system."
"Plant a sapling when a child is born and show it to him on his 18th birthday. They will be eco-friendly. Plant a tree for the death of a friend. People will volunteer to take care of it," he said.
Deputy Minister of Environment Ajith Mannapperuma and Secretary to the Treasury Dr. RHS Samaratunga, Senior Deputy Secretaries AR Deshapriya. AMPMB Atapattu and AK Seneviratne were also present.