World Environment Day celebrated in Kilinochchi

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 06 June 2006, 12:19 GMT]
Tamil people, under the Sri Lankan occupation, are obstructed to carry on their age-old lifestyle of living in harmony with the nature and its environment in their traditional homeland, said Shanmugalingam Ranjan, the Director of Planning and Development Secretariat (PDS) of Tamileelam, addressing media after the World Environment Day celebrations in Kilinochchi Monday.

"Driven away from their lands and seas by the Sri Lanka Government (GoSL) occupying armed forces, in the name of High Security Zones, and battered by war and tsunami, our farmers and fishermen continue to suffer immensely," the Director of PDS said noting that the GoSL gazetted embargo on fuel had made matters still worse.

International Environment Day
Ms. Penny Brune, O.A.M, Head of Zone Office-Kilinochchi, UNICEF, presenting gifts to the winners of an environmental competition held in Kilinochchi

Mr. Shanmugalingam Ranjan is one of the two signatories to Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS), a treaty signed along by the GoSL Secretary of the Ministry of Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconciliations Mr. Mudiyanslelage Sumanaweera Jayasinghe in June 2005, meant to help the tsunami devastated people. The treaty was later scuttled by the Sri Lankan judiciary.

The World Environment Day was celebrated Monday afternoon in Kilinochchi at the PDS conference hall at Paravi Panchan presided by its Director Shanmugaligam Ranjan and Ms. Penny Brune, O.A.M, Head of Zone Office-Kilinochchi UNICEF Resident Representative participating as special guest.

"Ten months since its inception, the Commission for Environmental Governance in the Tamil homeland is delighted to be commemorating World Environment Day on the 5th of June this year. Although this special Day has been celebrated in our homeland in different ways in previous years, our message this year has special significance," said Ranjan beginning his address.

International Environment Day
[L-R] Mr. Thangan, Deputy Political Head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Shanmugalingam Ranjan, Director of the Planning and Development Secretariat, T. Rajanayagam, Government Agent (GA), K. V. Balakumaran, a senior LTTE leader at the event.

Talking to media later he added: "Don't Desert Dry lands, is the slogan of this year's World Environment Day. Fully grown Palmyra palms in their thousands have been indiscriminately felled down by SLA armed forces for their military needs. Roads have been newly built appropriating paddy fields and vegetable lands. These once lush paddies and vegetable gardens have gone barren while their owners had been forced out of their homes rendering them deserts. Our people celebrating World Environment Day in this context is ironic indeed. Yet we pledge to maintain the momentum we have gathered in the past ten years through various activities involving citizen awareness campaigns related to environment even under the most trying circumstances."

The traditional lamp was lit by Ms. Penny Brune, Mr. V. Balakumaran, Mr. Puthuvai Irathinathurai and Rev. Fr. Javis while Mr. S. Thangan Deputy Head of the political wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) hoisted the national flag.

Ms. K. Shanthini delivered the welcome speech while Ms. Penny Brune of UNICEF, LTTE Senior member Mr. K. V. Balakumaran, Kilinochchi Government Agent Mr. T. Rasanayagam addressed the audience.

"Although the events of the past few months have brought sorrow and we know that our people are not in a mood to celebrate the day of the Environment when their own physical safety is under serious threat by the aggression of the occupying Sri Lankan Army. However, in solidarity with all civilised peoples of this world, we too focus our responsibilities towards dry lands and prevention of their degradation." said Director Ranjan in the final part of his speech.

"We are committed to meeting our most pressing environmental challenges in the Tamil homeland, especially the need to regenerate our ecosystems after the cruel destruction of war and the recent incursion of our coastline," Rajan noted.

"It is the primary duty of all individuals, communities and organisations in the Tamil homeland, to define clearly the boundaries between the use of natural resources necessary to build our nation and the need to preserve our environment to provide for the well-being of the current and future generations."


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