By Sunimalee Dias
The Government yesterday launched a greening of the Colombo city at a cost of Rs.1.6 million in a bid to protect its river banks.
“Diya Daharai – Thuru Viyanai” is the title given to this innovative concept that is being carried out by the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) as part of building urban water bodies through the national tree planting project. The programme was ceremoniously commissioned from the Diyawanna Oya at Nawala yesterday.
Instead of unplanned urban development which makes cities uninhabitable, planned cities are being implemented with this new project aimed at creating urban areas filled with greeneries on water fronts with walkways.
This will help overcome the polluted air, noise, high temperature, waste and bad odour resulting from congested urban centres.
Attention is being given to protecting hilltops, catchments and river banks that will be maintained by the Municipal councils and local authorities.
CEA Chairman Charitha Herath told the Daily FT that this programme would be implemented around the country throughout the year with the next cities to go green being Kurunegala, Hambantota, Kandy and Gampaha.
This is to ensure that the river banks threatened with pollution would be protected and nurtured for future generations, he said. The first stage of this project is to commence from the Kirulapone canal to Battaramulla and all other canals within the Colombo city that are likely to create a more attractive environment for travellers visiting the country as well.
Under this programme Ehela, Kaha Mara and hedges near houses, Mai Mara near roads and Madan, Dan, Kumbuk, Bamboo and Godapara in wetlands have been selected.
The first project is set to commence with the planting of 800 selected trees alongside the river banks and other areas of focus, Herath said.
The first project will be carried out together with the Urban Development Authority (UDA), Department of Forest Conservation, Lanka Reclamation and Development Corperation, Sri Lanka Navy, State Timber Corporation, Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte Municipal Council and the Open University of Sri Lanka.
Authorities have identified issues such as pollution of the canals within the cities; unsightly surroundings around the canals; creation of areas with excessive heat; health concerns due to pollution of water bodies; non use of canals for economic advantage in the past; construction of unauthorised buildings around the canals; and the unsightly surroundings due to the polution caused by visitors.