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Government ready to spend billions to clean Kelani River: Environment Minister

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The Kelani River is also used by the majority of the people of Gampaha and Colombo for drinking and other water needs.

The government considers the cleaning of the Kelani River as a priority. Therefore, the government is ready to spend billions of rupees for the conservation of the Kelani River in the next few years, said the Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.

The Minister expressed these views while participating in the Zoom discussion held with the participation of all District Secretaries of the island to implement the Surakimu Ganga program. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Secretary Ministry of Environment.

About 1400 places where the Kelani River is polluted have been identified so far. The most important of these is the area from the Seethawaka River to Peliyagoda.

Therefore, the Ministry of Environment has decided to designate a Special Conservation Zone from Seethawaka to Peliyagoda and commence conservation activities.

It is also planned to inspect 40 special places where the Kelani River is polluted every month and take legal action against those places. Measures have also been taken to prevent the flow of polythene and plastic into the river along with seven tributaries of the river.

A sum of Rs. 19 million has been allocated this year for the construction of permanent toilets for the people living outside the conservation zone near the Kelani River who do not have access to toilet facilities, the Minister said.

The Minister also instructed to expedite the marking of the Kelani River reserve. Also, the Measuring Water Quantity Project which tests water quality in the Kelani River should be started immediately and the Central Environmental Authority will provide the relevant reports.

Financial allocations have been made to further implement two major projects in Seethawaka, Wakoya and Gampaha Pahuru Oya this year. Both of these rivers are major tributaries of the Kelani River.

Accordingly Rs.5.2 million has been allocated for Seethawaka Wak Oya and Rs. 8.7 million for Pahuru Oya for this year. Apart from this Rs. 2.6 million has been allocated for the development of the Pugoda Ela which flows into the Kelani River.

The Minister informed the Gampaha and Colombo District Secretaries that after the demarcation of the Kelani River Reserve, the occupants of the reserve will be evacuated and a housing scheme will be set up for them.

Mahinda Amaraweera also instructed the District Secretaries to submit more projects for the conservation of the Kelani River as the Surakimu Ganga program will be implemented in the next few years as well.

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