Army launches countrywide beautification project | Sunday Observer

Army launches countrywide beautification project

29 December, 2019
Army Commander, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva on arrival at Defence Headquarters
Army Commander, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva on arrival at Defence Headquarters

For years the public had been disgruntled by what they deemed as the former governments disinterest in maintaining the cleanliness of public spaces and beautifying the country.

As a new leadership took over the reins on November 18, the public on its own initiative commenced a number of beautification projects across the country. From creating wall art to discourage posters on public walls to clean up projects on the beaches, the citizenry has pitched in their own way to beautify Sri Lanka. The Police and Municipal authorities have also stepped up to ensure a cleaner country.

A frangipani tree takes root Pix: By Rukmal Gamage

Contributing to these efforts, last week the Sri Lanka Army led by its Commander, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva launched its own eco-friendly beautifying program titled ‘Thuru Mithuru Nawa Ratak’. Under the new program launched on December 23, the Army hopes to make a significant contribution to the government’s national drive for afforestation and beautification of the country by increasing the forest cover in urban and semi-urban areas in Sri Lanka. According to the Army, the program was initiated in keeping with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s sustainable environment policies as specified in his manifesto.

So, in the early hours of the day Army Commander Shavendra Silva flanked by other senior and junior officers of the Sri Lanka Army took to the road leading to the new Army Headquarters in Akuregoda, Battaramulla starting from Denzil Kobbekaduwa Mawatha, Battaramulla to plant tree saplings on either side of the road. While the Army recently moved into its newly built headquarters wing spanning 77 acres at the Defence Complex which is considered to be the largest office complex in Sri Lanka. The surrounding area has been bare and barren. “Therefore, the intention of the project’s first stage is to beautify the road leading up to the Army Headquarters.” Lt. General Silva said. The newly planted saplings are expected to give shade and beautify the road thereby giving the environment a much needed change. During the walkabout the Commander also revealed that he has given instructions for decorative flora to a be planted in other possible areas surrounding the Defence Complex.

For now, the chosen tree saplings by the Army to beautify the 1.5 km stretch is the frangipani tree, a local favouite. According to the Commander, the tree was chosen due to the tree’s importance to every community in Sri Lanka. “We remember even as children we would take the flowers of the tree to the temple, church and Hindu temples to worship” he said ,adding that however, frangipani trees are now fast disappearing from urban and semi-urban areas in the country. “But it is an important tree for the people and the country. This is why we chose frangipani for this project” he said. One hundred and seventy (170) saplings were planted on the day as part of the new project while Lt. General Silva initiated the program by planting the first sapling. Overseeing the planting of the other saplings, Lt. General Silva even invited residents in the area to join in.

“These trees will not only beautify and give shade. The residents in the surrounding areas are welcome to pluck the flowers of these trees for worship and make use of these trees” Silva added. While the first stage of the project is expected to give shade and beautify the road. According to the Army, all regiments of the force are expected to contribute to maintain these trees on each road patch assigned to them till they are fully grown.

However, the Army also hopes to expand the project further in the coming days. Army establishments island wide will be expected to commence their own tree growing and beautification projects in their respective areas.

“We have given instructions to camps across the country to plant trees and do their part to beautify this country” the Commander said.

According to the Army, they will be advised to especially focus on growing trees useful for the public, such as fruit, herbal and rare saplings. The Army also hopes to venture into the possibility of cultivating fallow or abandoned lands with paddy or vegetables under the Army’s Directorate of Livestock. “The Army will also soon launch a program to plant jack trees in chosen areas” Silva revealed.

Addressing the gathering on the day, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva noted how the Sri Lanka Army has always been in the forefront to protect the country.

“We always do our best to serve this nation in every way possible” he said. According to the Commander, the Army’s hope therefore is that while the project will be of use to the country and its people, it will also give a message to all Sri Lankans.

“This is a beautiful country and we hope the public will also contribute to these efforts to beautify Sri Lanka. I request them to plant a useful tree such as a jack tree in their gardens or any other tree that will spruce up the area. If they do not have space they can even plant a tree on the roadside that will give shade to the people” he said

“Plant a tree and join hands with the Sri Lanka Army to beautify this country” the Commander urged.