Govt to probe Climate Change-linked projects undertaken by previous administration

By Ifham Nizam

Climate Change adaptation and mitigation funding would be extensively studied while the government would also look into the outcome of former projects, a senior minister said.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told The Island Financial Review that they are in the process of studying such projects. He stressed that carbon trading was strongly on the cards, adding that the country has taken initiatives on greener energy with a special focus on renewable energy.

During a recent interview the Finance Minister assured The Island Financial Review that his team would look into the previous government’s role in the Climate Change Secretariat of the then Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy on the climate resilient living programme in Walapane in the Nuwara Eliya district and at Medirigiriya in the Polonnaruwa District.

However, he said he had not gone into the topic personally but would do so.

It is reliably understood that despite a number of initiatives in the three-year programme, promising to focus on Climate Change adaptation strategies, nothing concrete had taken place.

The Secretariat received Rs. 7.9 billion through foreign funding, according to officials, and plans were underway to introduce drought resistant crops within the first year. However, after two years, nobody knows about any outcomes, if any.

A study in 2013 by the Committee on National Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for Sri Lanka identified 16 Divisional Secretariat Divisions as highly vulnerable to drought exposure.

"We need some Rs. 48 billion to implement the adaptation and mitigation policies for the period 2011 to 2016, an official said. However, The Island Financial Review learns, nothing had taken place with regard to project initiatives.

Environmentalist and Centre of Environment Justice Executive Director Hemantha Withanage strongly believes that before the government resorts to mega projects, attempts should be made to comply with the mitigation and adaptation policies as Climate Change would certainly affect a country like Sri Lanka.

The affected Divisional Secretariat Divisions have 100,317 households with agriculture as their primary source of income, according to sources.

Out of 400,973 acres of agricultural lands, 176,852 acres (44.1 per cent) are cultivated with paddy, while, 3,153 tanks irrigate a total area of 88,395 acres in the affected areas, the study has revealed.

Anamaduwa (Puttalam District), Ambalantota (Hambantota District, and Polpithigama (Kurunegala District) are the most vulnerable areas, according to the study.

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