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Minister Pavithradevi Wanniarachchi Secures Finance Ministry Approval for 4,500 Development Officers to Bolster Elephant-Fence Conservation

Minister of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation and Irrigation, Pavithradevi Wanniarachchi, announced a significant development as the Ministry of Finance has granted approval for the deployment of 4,500 multi-task development officers to support elephant-fence conservation initiatives within the Ministry of Wildlife.

Addressing a news conference at the Presidential Media Centre under the theme ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country,’ Minister Wanniarachchi shared key insights into the ongoing efforts to enhance the country’s forest coverage to 32% of the total land area. She revealed that the demarcation of forest boundaries, a vital component of this initiative, is expected to conclude this year.

Highlighting the importance of the International Day of Forests on March 21, Minister Wanniarachchi detailed additional initiatives. Plans are underway to distribute one plant to each household across the island, with the deployment of forest extension officers for this purpose. A program has been initiated to boost forest population while safeguarding water catchment areas, beginning in the Ratnapura district and aiming for nationwide expansion.

Providing updates on various projects, the Minister reported the successful completion of the first phase of Uma-oya, enabling the provision of new water to 20,000 acres of land. Test-level rehearsals are ongoing to supply 45 million cubic meters of drinking water and generate 120 megawatts of hydropower, which will be integrated into the national power system.

Additionally, Minister Wanniarachchi highlighted the accomplishments of the Minipe anicut project, benefiting 7,500 hectares with irrigation facilities for vegetable and fruit farming during both Yala and Maha seasons. Construction of a 3.5-metre Minipe anicut and a 74-kilometer canal has contributed to the well-being of approximately 15,500 families.

The Minister detailed upcoming projects, including water supply to 350 small tanks and 7 medium-sized tanks through the Northwest Canal, benefiting 75,000 families. A 96-kilometer canal from Moragahakanda Reservoir to Hurulu Lake and Mahakanadarava is also under construction, aiming to provide water facilities to 2,300 hectares of land and benefit 175,000 families.

Minister Wanniarachchi clarified that the Ministry of Finance has greenlit the assignment of 4,500 multi-task development officers to the Wildlife Ministry for elephant fence conservation. Importantly, no new recruitment is planned for this purpose, as the approved officers are already actively involved in ongoing elephant fence conservation efforts.

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