Sept 16, Colombo: Sagala Ratnayake, Senior Adviser to the President on National Security and Chief of the Presidential Staff, revealing a significant government decision said the government has resolved to undertake a comprehensive restructuring of the government institutions entrusted with environmental responsibilities.
Furthermore, Mr. Ratnayaka highlighted that a committee will be established to bolster environmental protection laws and facilitate the restructuring efforts.
He also disclosed that President Ranil Wickremesinghe intends to establish a dedicated task force focused on preventing environmental pollution and safeguarding the environment. This task force will be responsible for formulating, implementing and monitoring environmental protection initiatives.
The Senior Adviser to the President made these remarks during his participation in a beach cleaning program held at the Beach Plaza in the Port City on the occasion of the International Coastal Clean-up Day (ICCD) and the commencement of Marine Resources Conservation Week.
These events will encompass cleanliness drives, awareness campaigns and seabed cleaning activities at 66 locations, targeting identified beaches and lagoon areas spanning all 14 coastal districts across the island.
The program, initiated by the Marine Environment Protection Authority, commenced at the Beach Plaza in the Port City. Mr. Ratnayaka actively participated in the beach cleaning activities.
During his address at the subsequent ceremony, he shared the following remarks:
”This program has been initiated in commemoration of International Coastal Cleanliness Day and Marine Resources Conservation Week. The coastal, reservoir, canal and riverine environments hold immense significance for our nation. Being an island nation, we rely heavily on water resources. Simultaneously, as a country dependent on tourism, the preservation of a pristine environment is paramount to attract tourists consistently.
Such initiatives play a pivotal role in instigating proactive change in our citizens, heightening environmental awareness and especially educating our children about the importance of environmental preservation. I extend my gratitude to all those involved in organizing this program.
Historically, our discourse primarily revolved around these matters. Consequently, the implementation of such hands-on programs becomes increasingly vital.
Numerous institutions, including the Maritime Environment Protection Authority, Coastal Conservation Department and local government bodies, are actively involved in managing environmental concerns. Notably, the Navy, while not primarily responsible, provides valuable support in these efforts. Additionally, there are designated tourism zones governed by the Sri Lanka Tourism Board.
In recognition of the need for more effective environmental governance, we have made the decision to restructure these government agencies with environmental responsibilities. To oversee this restructuring, a dedicated committee will be appointed. Moreover, the aim is to fortify existing environmental laws following the reorganization process. In tandem with these initiatives, President Ranil Wickremesinghe intends to establish a task force. This task force’s mandate will encompass the development, execution and supervision of activities aimed at addressing environmental concerns.
Through these comprehensive programs, we aspire to enhance public awareness and implement sustainable measures to mitigate environmental pollution.
The environment holds immense significance for the present and future generations. Failing to safeguard it could result in dire consequences for the generations to come. Furthermore, the sustainability of Sri Lanka’s economy can be ensured only through the protection of our environment. It is crucial to acknowledge that the responsibility for environmental preservation cannot rest solely with the government.
Every individual also bears a significant responsibility in this endeavor and it is imperative to implement a comprehensive awareness program to inform the public about their role in safeguarding the environment. Therefore, we are committed to fulfilling this responsibility effectively.
It is essential to execute these activities meticulously, minimizing any shortcomings. The program undertaken today is of paramount importance and it is commendable to see the integration of art and technology into these efforts. “I extend my gratitude to all the agencies, departments and security forces involved in this initiative”.
The event was attended by notable figures including Navy Commander Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, Chairman of the Maritime Environment Protection Authority Lawyer Asela B Rekawa, General Manager Jagath Gunasekara, other board members, as well as Port City Private Company’s environmental consultant Mr. W.A.D.D. Wijesuriya and other officials.