Hon. Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera, said that a Cabinet paper will be submitted in the future to ban 08 other items that are harmful to the environment. The Minister state the above while addressing the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Environment in Parliament on the 05th August 2021.
The Minister stated that his includes polythene bags, plastic hopper holders, plastic dishes, plastic cups and plastic spoons.
Furthermore, Hon. Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera stated that the law banning lunch sheets will be strictly enforced with effect from the 01st of September. He instructed the officers to increase the number of raids with regard to the above.
Hon. Member of Parliament Madhura Withanage pointed out at the committee meeting that many environmental problems are arising in society due to the improper disposal of the masks used in connection with the current COVID 19 pandemic.
The Central Environmental Authority (CEA) has informed the Committee that a guideline on the proper disposal of masks has been introduced and has been submitted to the Ministry of Health for approval.
The Chairman of the Committee, the Hon. Minister also acknowledged that the public should be more careful when disposing of masks.
The Secretary of Environment. Dr. Anil Jasinghe stated that Local Government Institutions have a great responsibility in this regard.
The Committee paid special attention to the unauthorized construction of a hotel along the Mahaweli River in the Gannoruwa area. Hon. Parliamentarian Wasantha Yapabandara stated that this has been constructed by a powerful businessman in the area and as a result, many environmental problems have been created. He further stated that the failure of the relevant institutions to take appropriate action in this regard is also a serious problem.
The Committee recommended that a special discussion be held on this matter expeditiously and that it be appropriate to conduct an observation tour of the site.
There are many unauthorized constructions on both sides of the Mahaweli River and special attention should be paid to remove them, said Hon. Parliamentarian Wasantha Yapabandara. He further stated that unauthorized constructions were often carried out on long weekends and the legal provisions available to local authorities to stop them were minimal.
The Chairman of the Committee also instructed the officials to pay special attention matters as such while amending the Environment Act.
The damage caused by the creation of islands along the Mahaweli River due to human activities are quite significant, Hon. Parliamentarian further pointed out at the committee meeting.
The Chairman of the Committee Hon. Minister Mahinda Amaraweera stated that a special program under the ‘Surakimu Ganga’ National Program to protect 103 rivers throughout the country has already been launched on the instructions of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Accordingly, the marking of the Kelani River reserve has already commenced, he said.
The need to conduct an environmental audit covering all major cities in the country was also discussed at the Committee meeting.
Hon. Members of Parliament Gunathilaka Rajapaksha, Amarakeerthi Athukorala, Kins Nelson, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, Upul Mahendra Rajapaksha, and a number of government officials were present at this committee meeting.