The President was unequivocal in his blame of Politicians and Government Servants, complicity in the current parlous state of our Environment. His speech in Matale to mark World Environment Day, did mention, the huge damage, sand mining and unauthorized construction, and the filling up of paddy has done to the environment.
I was however hoping for more, and some real policy proposals, to be enacted through Parliament on many areas:
I will list some that come to mind immediately and is not at all comprehensive:
1 Complete Ban on Sand Mining along with a plan for sea sand mining at a significantly higher rate than now.
2 Review of all river basins, and time limit to remove unauthorized and flood prone constructions over a stipulated period of say 5 years.
3 Re assessment of landslide zones, a census of the populations, and their livelihood sources, and propose alternative relocation (optional to the individuals) in areas of better employment prospects.
4 A complete mapping of Strict Natural Reserves, National Parks, National Forests, Canal and River Reservations, Coastal Conservation Zones, Buffer Zones, and Elephant Corridors.
5 Once 4 above is done, these properties MUST be satellite demarcated, and Survey Department given the tools for enforcement, to prevent encroachment. Certain encroached lands to be returned to their former status.
6 Consideration given to Biodiversity, and Scenic value, to add more land as Biodiversity Hot Spots to make them zones for locals to protect for their future, and local and foreign tourists to visit, providing both a source of livelihood for local villages as guides and protectors of habitat. There are innumerable places already due to rock quarrying, that springs and local water sources have dried up, which will happen more frequently unless prevention measures are taken NOW.
7 Education of ALL students from PRESCHOOL about the value of, and love for the environment and ALL living things in them, especially in their locality. This is the surest way that people will take care of their surroundings, with pride and guard against abuse.
8 An immediate action plan to reduce and separate waste of all sorts, to speed up recycling and minimize non-biodegradable pollutants. Why do we still use carcinogenic Styrofoam to pack food, when in wealthy countries they just use recycled paper!9 Ban the use of water bottles, and provide public dispensers of drinking water for a fee.