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Corporate Social

Commercial Bank Funds Coral Replanting In Unique CSR Project

A groundbreaking project to replant coral in the Hikkaduwa Marine National Park has been launched by the Department of Wildlife Conservation with funding from the Commercial Bank of Ceylon.

A first for the Department, the initiative envisages replanting an extent of 1,000 square feet in the Walduwa area of the marine park, using techniques perfected in the Philippines. The original coral in this protected area was damaged in 1998 due to the warming of the ocean due to the ‘El Niño’ southern oscillation and the tsunami of 2004.

The first phase of the project involves the production of concrete blocks of one square foot apiece with dead coral of five to six inches in height embedded on one surface. These blocks are then linked to one another and anchored to the seabed like floor tiles, creating a new coral bed in the area where the original coral was destroyed.

Once the sea water has adequately ‘cured’ the concrete blocks of toxins, live coral that has broken off naturally, will be collected from areas such as Mirissa, Matara and Unawatuna, transported under controlled conditions and affixed to the dead coral, creating a new layer of live coral that will continue to grow and attract and sustain marine life.

“This is a truly unique project that will promote biodiversity and help restore the beauty of the Hikkaduwa coral reef, which is a major tourist attraction,” said Mr. Jegan Durairatnam, Commercial Bank’s Chief Operating Officer. “The Bank was happy to adopt this project under its CSR agenda as it will bring many benefits to the area, and encourage more initiatives of this nature.”

The project also has symbolic significance to Commercial Bank because it coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Bank’s Hikkaduwa branch, he said.

Elaborating on the project, a spokesman for the Department of Wildlife Conservation said 700 concrete blocks would be used to create the new coral bed. Another 300 square feet of coral would be created by cementing dead coral to natural rock using a highly specialised gum. The live coral that is to be joined to the dead coral at the second stage of the project is of the Staghorn variety, which grows by two to three centimetres a year.

“With time, sand deposits will hide the concrete base of the new coral floor, and we are hopeful that a pristine bed of live coral will rise in this area, thanks to the generosity of the Commercial Bank,” the spokesman said.

This latest project supported by Commercial Bank brings even greater diversity to the Bank’s CSR portfolio, which is directed by the Commercial Bank CSR Trust with the overall objective of generating measurable and sustainable social dividends for different segments of society. The Bank has an ongoing flagship project to promote IT literacy among school children, under which it has donated fully-equipped computer labs to over 84 schools to date, benefitting more than 45,000 students.

Other CSR initiatives of the Bank include the annual presentation of scholarships and laptops to undergraduates, a national scale programme to provide English language education to rural students, projects that promote the preservation of cultural heritage, donation of health equipment to hospitals and regional projects.

The largest private bank in Sri Lanka and the only Sri Lankan Bank to be listed two years consecutively in the world’s Top 1,000 Banks, Commercial Bank operates a network of 231 branches and service points in Sri Lanka. The Bank has been adjudged the Best Bank in Sri Lanka by Global Finance magazine for a record 15 successive years and has also won multiple awards as the country’s best bank from ‘The Banker,’ ‘FinanceAsia,’ ‘Euromoney’ and ‘Trade Finance’ magazines.

Photo captions:

Hikkaduwa 1 - Officials of Commercial Bank and the Department of Wildlife Conservation after the unveiling of a hoarding near the project site

Hikkaduwa 2 - Commercial Bank's Chief Operating Officer Mr. Jegan Durairatnam (left) presents a 'coral tile' to Mr. H. D. Ratnayake, Director General of the Department of Wildlife Conservation

Hikkaduwa 3 - The 'coral tiles' that will line the sea bed

Hikkaduwa 4 - Commercial Bank's Chief Operating Officer Mr. Jegan Durairatnam (right) and Mr. H. D. Ratnayake, Director General of the Department of Wildlife Conservation exchange the agreement under which Commercial Bank will fund the coral replanting project