VI. ASSESSMENT OF INFORMATION AND TRAINING NEEDS IDENTIFIED BY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
A. Mechanisms used to disseminate information
The mechanisms used to disseminate in formation relate to the following broad areas:
The undertaking (a) above, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry as well as CEA issue official publications and communications from time to time and also conduct one on one discussions on specific issues. One such document, published by CEA, is a complete "Review of the environmental legislation in Sri Lanka" introduced from time to time under various Acts of Parliament. It contains detailed information on the regulations pertaining to land use, agriculture and soil conservation, and is relevant to the tea sector.
CEA has also compiled and issued handbooks to local authorities which provide comprehensive information regarding the following subjects:
Mechanism (b) above is achieved through seminars and workshops and by communications and programmes conducted through the electronic and print media.
In achieving the aims of (c) above, statutory directions and communications relating to the EIA process are made through government gazette notifications. As stated earlier in this report, the process itself is managed and monitored by CEA and is implemented through a number of PAAs. A unique feature of the EIA process is that it is an open process, allowing for the public participation in decision-making. Official communications are therefore also made through the national press.
Several guidelines on the implementation of the EIA process have been developed by countries in the region, as well as donor agencies and international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and ADB. Although those guidelines can be used a certain extent in implementing the EIA process in Sri Lanka, they need to be adapted to reflect the unique environmental characteristics of the country. With that in mind, CEA has begun preparing a series of guidance documents for implementing the EIA process in Sri Lanka, in association with NAREPP/IRG of USAID and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.
The first guide book, which has already been published, is intended to assist and guide PAAs in the successful implementation of the EIA process. It contains comprehensive information on:
The handbook also contains information on projects and undertakings which are designated by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry as prescribed projects and for which EIAs are mandatory. It includes information on the nature of projects which are related to the tea sector. CEA has also prepared a list of available experts in various specialized fields who may be co-opted onto the technical committees; however, that information is disseminated separately to PAAs.
The second guidebook, which has also been published, is more of a specialized nature as it deals with the subject of environmental scoping. It provides detailed instructions on structural mechanisms that should be in place as well as procedural guidelines for the implementation of environmental scoping. However, specific sectoral guidelines, including those for the tea sector, have et to be published.
In addition, the Department of National Planning has published a format for the submission of project proposals for preliminary screening (see chapter III). The format, which is made available to public sector institutions, serves as a guide to the information on public sector project proposals that must be submitted for inclusion in the five-year public sector investment programme of the government. The information facilitates decision-making at an early stage on whether an EIA is desirable or not.
In the case of (d) above, the issuing of EPLs to low-polluting processing activities is delegated to local authorities by CEA, while EPLs for high-polluting activities are issued by CEA. Processing activities related to the tea sector (excluding complex activities such as the manufacture of instant tea) are listed under the low polluting category.
CEA has issued clear guidelines in the form of a publication to local authorities on the procedures that should be followed in issuing EPLs. It contains formats for issuing of the licence itself, as well as for inspection reports on monthly and biannual progress which have to be submitted to CEA. The publication contains a list of sectoral processing activities which qualify for EPLs from local authorities and includes a section on tea factories and the minimum housekeeping standards that need to be maintained by them. Furthermore, the maximum allowable limits for the physical and chemical compositions of effluents that are discharged into natural water bodies or which impact on other natural resources (which are published in the government gazette from time to time), are included as annexes to the publication.
In the case of (e) above, awareness programmes related to the obligations under international environmental agreements take the form of seminars, as well as workshops for the public and talks for the private sector Chambers of Commerce. The programmes are normally conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry since it is the focal point for international Conventions and agreements. Seminars and discussions on the "Socio-economic impacts of climatic change" and "the Montreal Protocol" have already taken place for the tea sector.
In addition to the programmes related to the broad areas outlined above, relevant specific information dissemination activities are outlined below.
Awareness and information dissemination programmes related to Sri Lanka's policies on environment are conducted by CEA for all diplomatic officers prior to their being posted to overseas Sri Lankan missions. The objective of those programmes is to ensure that diplomatic officers have a proper appreciation of environmental issues related to international trading and international agreements.
SLTRB issues handouts, bulletins and technical leaflets from time to time as guidance for the tea sector in plantation management and related issues. The subjects covered include land-use management, cultural practices, fertilizer use, insecticide and pesticide use, organic farming, the nature and level of contaminants which are tolerable in processed teas etc.
Private sector Chambers of Commerce, in collaboration with State agencies, have also begun making available information packs which provide details about available environmentally friendly technologies, names of consulting companies and their available expertise, and information on support programmes. In that context, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has carried out an environmental needs survey among its members, including those in the tea and rubber plantation sectors. The findings of the survey have revealed a high demand for technology-based information. As a follow-up measure, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has held a forum on environmental technology and technical expertise available in Sri Lanka. That event enabled many processors with the opportunity to obtain information on the types of technology available in Sri Lanka for environmentally-related activities.
Information on environmentally-related issues is also disseminated by international organizations and technical assistance projects based in Colombo for that purpose. Some of those organizations and projects also provide technical and financial assistance. Some examples of such assistance are: