Some 25 government agencies in charge of conservation, infrastructure and development, backed by the UN, have come up with an Integrated Strategic Environment Assessment (ISEA) for the Northern Province (NP), to ensure planned development in the area.
As a preliminary process of that development, research on the required resources was conducted, identified and allocated in the NP.
The Central Environment Authority of the Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Disaster Management Centre of the Ministry of Disaster Management, partnered by more than 25 other agencies under various ministries in charge of conservation, infrastructure and development, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-Sri Lanka, and the United Nations Environment Programme, has started the preliminary stages of development in the NP.
According to Project Leader & Assistant Resident Representative- Environment, Energy & Disaster Risk Management, UNDP-Sri Lanka, Dr. Ananda Mallawatantri, a similar assessment has been launched in the Central Province, Uva, Gampaha District and the Eastern Province.
The rapid development programme in the North will be carried out with increased investment in railways, telecommunications and restoring public administration to stimulate investment and growth.
“Preserving areas of interest to tourists, such as wildlife, forest reserves, marine biological sites, archeological sites and ‘uncharted’ areas are some of the tasks to fulfil. Hence, we were looking for an opportunity to bring environmental aspects into this development process in an eco-friendly manner, and linked up with such a project,” Dr. Mallawatantri said.
According to the ISEA-North reports, the challenges of de-mining and resettling the displaced northern populace are being speedily addressed by government, the UN and other organisations.
“Every agency or department came up with its own maps in order to show their plans and the resources available in our country which could be exploited without any harm to the environment. We didn’t want to bring foreign governments into the scene. Our aim was make all our government agencies to succeed. Hence, this development programme was handed over to government agencies, to which we brought in talented local university research teams to work along with them,” he said.
“Locations with mineral deposits were identified for their extraction for use in the development process, but with minimal damage to the immediate environment”, Dr. Mallawatantri assured.