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Environmental issues relegated to back-burner for now - Activists

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Environmentalists who supported the candidacy of Maithripala Sirisena during the presidential election said they acknowledge environmental issues would take a backseat during the 100-Day program of the Sirisena presidency.

Speaking to The Nation, Sajeewa Chamikara from the Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) said it was quite possible that a Minister of Environment or Wildlife Conservation would not be appointed by the Government of President Maithripala Sirisena. “From what we understand, the President is likely to keep these subjects under him until Parliament is dissolved and a General Election is held,” he said.

The ECT was among a group of environmental organizations calling themselves the ‘National Environmental Activist Group’ that launched a policy document back in December aimed at ensuring sustainable development and environmental rights. The policy document was first presented to then Common Opposition Candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

However, Chamikara said they acknowledge the reality that issues such as Constitutional changes, good governance and corruption would take center stage during the 100-Day program of the new government. However, there was no point in pressing the government on environmental issues without first having independent bodies such as the Public Service Commission strengthened through Constitutional amendments, he opined.

“We are not in any undue hurry. We waited nine years for things to be set right. The state apparatus needs to be restructured in such a way that corruption should be rooted out before anything constructive can be done”.
However, Chamikara said they would not be idle and remain vigilant regarding environmental matters during the interim period.

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