(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –World Wetlands Day falls today (02). Coinciding with this day, a tree planting project called ‘Nekatata Pelayak’ was launched at the Ministry of Environment today.
In line with the upcoming Sinhala and Hindu New Year auspicious rituals, a powerful tree planting auspicious time of 6.40 am on April 16 has been included in the National Astrology Committee auspicious sheet.. According to an idea of the Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera, arrangements have been made to plant at least one sapling in every home garden in the island at the same auspicious time. A programme was launched at the Ministry of Environment today to symbolize the planting of seeds to prepare the seedlings required for this.
Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera, Secretary to the Ministry Dr. Anil Jasinghe and Hindu and Buddhist priests representing the clergy were also present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that World Wetlands Day falls today. World Wetlands Day was declared on February 02, 1971 at the Convention in Ramsar, Iran.
In our country too, 06 major wet sanctuaries have been declared as Ramsar wetlands. Bundala National Park, Anavilundawa Sanctuary, Maduganga Sanctuary, Wankale Sanctuary, Kumana National Park, Wilpattu National Park are the six wetlands.
In addition to this we have to fight a huge battle with some businessmen, underworld gangs and other people as well as some government officials to protect the Muthurajawela Wet Sanctuary which is known as the lungs of our country even though it is not named as Ramsar Wetland
In the recent past, there have been reports of various planned unauthorized landfills in Muthurajawela. One of the politicians you remember said, “Eat oxygen.” Flora and fauna gives us oxygen. Once the vegetation is destroyed, nature produces the oxygen it needs artificially. Today, air pollution in some parts of the world has forced oxygen tanks to be bonding the backside. Fortunately, such a situation has not yet arisen in our country, but there is a risk that in a few more years we will be in the same situation as the destruction of vegetation today.
Today we begin planting the seeds needed to plant seedlings for the auspicious day of April 16, coinciding with the Sinhala and Hindu New Year. This programme needs the contribution of everyone in the country. There are about 53 lakhs households in our country. If we plant at least 03 million of these trees, we will be able to get a record of planting saplings at the same time. Therefore, as the Minister of Environment, I urge everyone in the country to support this.
We do not provide relief to anyone who destroys the environment. We enforce the law against all, be they politicians, government officials or businessmen. We have prosecuted about a hundred people who have destroyed the environment in the past. We will deal with whatever our status is.
Secretary to the Ministry Dr. Anil Jasinghe addressed the gathering. – Today we are starting this project in a place with a very beautiful environment. I do not know if there is such a green enclosure in any other place in Colombo.
Wetlands are like the lungs of our body. Our body needs to cleanse the blood. Oxygen is filtered by the lungs. Wetlands also provide oxygen and clean water for animals, including humans. But today we are facing the threat of the destruction of these wetlands.
Today we start planting the seeds to get the seedlings needed to plant for the National Tree Planting which falls on the 16th of April. I think it is the national duty of all people to support this. Also, the Ministry of Environment has initiated a number of programs to increase the forest cover in our country. Through this we hope to increase the forest cover of our country to 30 percent. These activities cannot be done by the government alone. “We need the support of all parties in the country,” he said.