Drought to continue: Govt. mulls crop protection measures

Four-pronged approach to prevent forest fires


by Zacki Jabbar

With the Meteorology Department announcing that the drought which has seriously affected paddy farmers would continue in some parts of the country, the government said yesterday that a Ministerial Committee had been appointed to recommend measures to mitigate the adverse impact that had been caused to people’s livelihoods.

Media Minister Keheheliya Rambukwella, addressing the weekly Cabinet press briefing in Colombo, said that the Cabinet had on Wednesday discussed the serious drought situation, especially in areas where rice and other essential crops were being grown and had appointed a Committee headed by Irrigation and Water Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva to submit proposals on medium and long term remedies to be adopted.

The Disaster Management Centre has reported that farmers in the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Hambantota and Trincomalee areas are severely affected by the drought.

Officers are currently collecting information on the losses suffered by farmers and once the process was completed, a decision would be taken on the quantum of compensation to be paid, Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.

Rambukwella said that the Cabinet had also discussed expeditious implementation of measures to prevent forest fires which had caused havoc in recent weeks.

The four-pronged approach would comprise the identification and mapping out of fire prone areas in each district and preparation of fire management plans, supply of required resources through the respective District Secretaries to the Forest Department and the Department of Wildlife Conservation to ensure effective fire control programmes, advising the law enforcement authorities to be vigilant, especially during the dry season, in order to apprehend those responsible for initiating forest fires and conducting training and awareness programmes on fire management for communities and relevant stakeholders, the Minister said.

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