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President Maithripala Sirisena said that it is a bounding duty of every citizen to protect forests, trees and animals of the country. He added that measures have been taken to protect the forests of the country as well as to expand the density.

The President made these remarks participating in the world Forest Day celebrations at Dimbulagala, Weheragala Central School. Participating in the event, the President opened the reconstructed classrooms of the school.

If everyone does not consider themselves to protect the prevailing forest density, we will lose forests within the next 15 years, President Sirisena warned. The remaining forest cover in the country is 28%, which mostly be seen in north eastern region. Due to the terrorism, the country was able to protect the forest density, but forests in other parts of the country have been destroyed by politicians and other notorious people, President added.

To achieve 32% forest density in coming 3 years, it needs to make another 140,000 hectares lush green, and it has to be done by growing trees to cover 15,000 hectares per year. Therefore, to make this programme a success the support of government sector, private sector, NGOs, school children and the entire populations’ participation is essential, the President said.

President Sirisena instructed the officials not to force small school children to participate in these functions as it is tiresome for them. If the student participation is essential for a function, only the older students of grade 8 and above should be asked to attend, he said.

The President visited to the Wehelagala Central College in Dimbulagala today (21st) morning and unveiled the plaque at the school premises. Later he visited to the Buddha Mandiraya to offer homage and inspected the new classroom building vested with the students. Under the Awakening of Polonnaruwa District Development Project, students were provided with a better environment for schooling and many class rooms have been renovated.

The President also planted a tree in the school premises. After that, he joined the World Forest Day celebrations. The events at the ceremony included providing library book sets to 07 schools in the district under the Polonnaruwa District Development Program, granting educational scholarships to students, and providing facilities for low income families.

The President also presented certificates and grants to those who died from the Forest Conservation Department and those who contributed to raid the gang rage in the Sinharaja forest.

Environment State Minister Mr. Ajith Mannapperuma, North Central Province Governor Mr. Sarath Ekanayake, Secretary of the Mahaweli Development & Environment Ministry Mr. Anura Disanayake, Director General of Forests, Mr W.A.C. Weragoda and College Principal, teaching staff, parents and old school children were present on this event.

Meanwhile under the program “the nearest school – the best school” the three floor class room building built in Dimbulagala Kashyapa Vidayalya was vested for the usage of the students under the patronage of the President.

President Sirisena, who visited the college was warmly welcomed by the students.

According an appeal made by the President, an assurance was given to provide Rs. 25 lacks worth funds for the constructions of the main hall of the college, playground, and the stadium.

Distributing books for several schools of the zone, presenting grants for housing for 7 families lacking residence in Dimubulagala region, and other programs were carried on under the patronage of the President.

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