|Saturday, 2 August 2003|
Muthurajawela encroachment halted
by Wasantha Ramanayake
The Court of Appeal yesterday ordered the Inspector General of Police and the Director, Wildlife Conservation to prevent further encroachment of the Muthurajawela Sanctuary in Kirindigoda area.
Justice (Mrs.) Shirani Thilakawardane made the order in view of the failure by the respondent authorities to stop the encroachment and the construction of unauthorised structures by squatters in the said area. Justice Thilakawardane observed that she was concerned with the issue since it was of national importance.
The order was a sequel to an application by the counsel for the petitioner Environmental Foundation Ltd. The counsel submitted to the court that since the filing of the application the encroachment and the erection of unlawful structures continued and the respondents had failed to stop it.
The Bench comprised Justices (Mrs.) Shirani Thilakawardane and P. Wijerathne. State Counsel W. Vigneswaran on behalf the respondents did not object to the application.
Petitioner cited H.M. Bandula Chandralal Herath Director General of the Department of the Wildlife Conservation, Central Environmental Authority (CEA), IGP T.E. Anandarajah, Environmental and Natural Resources Minister Rukman Senanayake and the Attorney General as respondents.
Petitioner stated that On May 30, a large number of people numbering about 2,000 encroached the sanctuary and started erecting illegal structures in an extent of 300 acres. The petitioner further stated that encroachment was illegal in terms of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance.
The petitioner sought a Writ of Mandamus compelling the respondents to take steps in terms of the said Ordinance, to adopt measures to implement the provisions in respect of the sanctuary and to formulate comprehensive National Wetlands Policy for the protection, preservation, conservation and sustainable use of the wetland resources.
The Petitioner stated that the Muthurajawela Sanctuary was a wetland with the extent of 1285.51 hectares of national and international importance. It had a rich and diverse eco-system, extensive gene-pool, and high level of species diversity and endemism. Ravindranath Dabare appeared for the petitioner.
The case was put off for September 2.
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