Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena recently has given instructions to relevant officials not to let any foreign national or a foreign company to mine gems in Sri Lanka.

The President said the government is not ready to endow the local gem industry to foreign companies and instructed the officials to refuse requests for gem mining.

Assuming duties as the Mahaweli Development and Environment Minister at the ministry yesterday, the President stressed that laws on environmental conservation should be further solidified.

President Sirisena emphasized that no one should be permitted to exploit environmental resources regardless of their status. Rules of conserving environment should be strongly implemented without allowing room for damaging it, he said.

He instructed the relevant officials to stop mining of sand and transporting in the Polonnaruwa district from the 1st of February.

The President asked the relevant institutions to submit a report after an intensive study on the possibility of using the sand resources in this area in the future. He also asked the officials to conduct a study and submit a report on the suitability of the areas for sand mining and the possibility of using sea sands as an alternative.

President Sirisena requested the National Gem and Jewellery Authority to provide a report on current projects implemented and also asked about the tender process and the mechanism of issuing licenses for gem mining.

Ordering the National Gem and Jewellery Authority to halt all illegal gem mining, the President asked the officials to immediately halt the gem mining in Moragahakanda reservoir and its premises.

The President instructed the relevant sectors to inform him if someone including politicians or businessmen attempt to damage the environment.

He also told the officials to procure office items produced by the State Timber Corporation for the Ministry and affiliated institutes as a pilot project to increase the income of the Timber Corporation.

President Sirisena also instructed the officials of ministries to formulate a strategic plan and submit it by reviewing the activities of the Ministry and affiliated institutions under the 100 day programme.

The President also appointed new officials to the institutions under the Mahaweli Development and Environment Ministry today. New officials were appointed to the Mahaweli Authority and affiliated institutes, Marine Environment Protection Authority, State Timber Corporation, Gem and Jewellery Research Institute.