30th October 2015 21:37:14 Hours
Troops of the 53 Division at Dambulla with the blessings of the Commander of the Army took to cultivation of Red Sandalwood (Rath Handun) saplings for the first time in the Army, to be in line with the national ‘Wana Ropa’ project of the Ministry of Environment under the Haritha Gammana concept.
Considered as the first-ever pilot project of this nature in the country, 500 saplings of rare Red Sandalwood were planted on Thursday (29) in a land extent of 2.5 acres inside the 53 Division premises at Dambulla during a simple ceremony, attended by Mr N.K.G.K Nemmawaththa, Additional Secretary for Ministry of Environment, Mr T.R Warnasri Dhanapala, Director, Ministry of Environment, Mr Gamini Wijesinghe, Director Promotion, Ministry of Environment, Mr N.D Wickremaarachchi, Deputy Director, Ministry of Environment, Major General Maithri Dias, General Officer Commanding, 53 Division and a host of senior officers of the Division Headquarters.
The project, organized to be in parallel with the ongoing Wana Ropa national drive of the President Maithripala Sirisena who is also the Minister of Mahaweli Development, Environment and Defence, is the first-ever Red Sandalwood Park to come up in Sri Lanka.
Red Sandalwood (Pteroconrpus Santalinus) tree generally grows up to a height of 7-8 meters and constitutes an important place in the field of indigenous medicine, treatment of snake-biting, cloth-dying, etc fetching a handsome price.
Out of those 500 saplings, a total of 250,000 kgs could be produced after a period of 25 years, earning an income of about Rs 875 million. It also possesses ingredients needed for skin beauty and other facial needs. Many countries including Sri Lanka still import Red Sandalwood powder from India at exorbitant prices.
All the invitees in the ceremony joined the tree planting during auspicious timings according to the programme.