The 14th Session of the New National Environment Council of the Ministry of Environment was held at the auditorium of the Environment Authority yesterday (30) at noon.
The meeting was chaired by Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera and was attended by all 25 members of the Environment Council, including the newly elected Adiwasi Leader Wanaspathi Uruwarige Wanniyaleththo.
Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera Commenting on the air pollution in urban areas he instructed the Environment Council to submit ideas and proposals to reduce air pollution in densely populated urban areas.
The Minister further said.
There is heavy traffic during the day in densely populated urban areas including Colombo, Galle, Kurunegala and Kandy. Therefore, the Central Environmental Authority was instructed to purchase new equipment to measure the carbon content of the atmosphere in those urban areas as well as the noise pollution from the horns of vehicles. They should be implemented from next year. Testing of atmospheric conditions in urban areas is not yet at a satisfactory level.
Atmospheric conditions are particularly polluted, especially in the city of Kandy. Because of the corona condition we are wearing face masks and in the future we will have to use more advanced face masks now to prevent the ingestion of poisonous gases sometimes for 24 hours.
Today 71 percent of the fuel imported to our country is used for motor vehicles. The speed limit in Colombo has been reduced to 06 km per hour during peak hours. At present the government has suspended the import of vehicles. If another vehicle is imported in any way, the vehicle may have to be parked in one place for hours.
Most carbon emissions from vehicles are not from speeding but from parking in one place many times.
The Government has decided to give priority to the promotion of electric vehicles in the importation of vehicles in the future. The Cabinet Memorandum submitted by me for this purpose was approved by the Cabinet. Going beyond that proposal, the government plans to launch a shuttle bus service from next year using large, low-Floor buses for transportation in urban areas.
It is our responsibility to create the necessary environmental conditions for people in our urban areas to inhale fresh air. The Minister said that he requested the Environment Council to identify the strategies currently being used in developed countries and propose alternative measures that could be easily implemented.