20th June 2019, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka: Today, 383 families in Dunsinane Estate, Nuwara Eliya were provided with 1,600 horticultural saplings in promoting eco-friendly gardening and supporting the concept of a green village. These saplings are expected to be planted in newly constructed houses which are funded by the Government of India under the Indian Housing Project in Plantation Areas. The saplings were handed over to the families by Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Mr D C Manjunath, the Counsellor and Head of the Development Cooperation Wing of the High Commission of India, Mr V Puthirasigamani, the Chairman of Plantation Human Development Trust (PHDT) and Mr Salem Karimzada of United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) at a special event held at Dunsinane Estate in Nuwara Eliya. This initiative was funded by the High Commission of India in commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Ghandhi, and celebrating the World Environment Day which was held on 5th June 2019.
The effort was jointly facilitated by Department of Agriculture, Minister of Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development, and UN-Habitat with the view to supporting the Blue Green Economy aspired by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL). The event was attended by a large number of people, including members of Provincial Councils and Local Authorities, senior officials of the GoSL, officials of the PHDT, Agarapatana Plantation Company and UN-Habitat, and a large number of community members from Dunsinane Estate.
While addressing the gathering, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake valued the initiative by the High Commission of India in contributing to environmental conservation and improvement of living standards of the people. He also highlighted the need of further promoting this effort, and how this could be beneficial in supplementing alternative livelihoods activities of the community. Mr D C Manjunath who represented His Excellency Taranjit Singh Sandhu, the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, delivered a message from the High Commissioner. In it he expressed that Mahatma Gandhi was a person who lived in harmony with nature, and he also stated that over exploitation of nature can wipeout life from the planet. Mr Salem Karimzada from UN-Habitat mentioned that the Indian Housing Project in Plantation Areas is carried out in an eco-friendly manner. He further highlighted that eco-friendly initiatives such as tree-planting will help us in two ways, namely, contributing towards Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), and in protecting and conserving the environment.
Department of Agriculture provided technical training to the beneficiaries on organic fertilizer usage, preparation of pits and planting methods. In addition, the Department of Agriculture provided details of recommended nurseries and suppliers of both saplings and fertilizer.