Writ petition filed against Basil and Rishad | Daily News
Deforestation in Mannar district:

Writ petition filed against Basil and Rishad

Two prospective candidates of the 2020 Presidential Election have filed a writ petition in the Court of Appeal against former Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, Conservator General of Forests and several others for allegedly installing human settlements in the Villattikulam reserved forest in the Mannar district.

Malinda Seneviratne, a journalist by profession and Attorney-at-law Nagananda Kodituwakku, a public interest litigation activist, filed this petition seeking a writ of mandamus order compelling the Conservator General of Forests to regain the control of the area of land belonging to the reserved forest which is unlawfully acquired.

The petitioners stated that natural reserved forests are protected by law and are being administered by the Conservator General of Forests and no such forest can be used for any other purpose with strict penal sanctions provided by law against violations.

The petitioners stated that the Villattikulam reserved forests have 2,108 hectares of forest cover as per the regulations framed under Section 3 of the Forest Ordinance and published in the Government Gazette No 1759/2 of 21 May 2012. Law prohibits the abuse of any such reserved forest and the state is under duty to protect such forests from any form of exploitation.

The petitioners further stated that Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen's powers, duties and functions as assigned by the Executive President had been duly published in the Government Gazette and the said assigned powers and duties do not include any power or authority to engage in appropriation of forests lands for human settlement, clearing of such lands and erecting of houses in the forest land appropriated by unlawful means.

The petitioners further stated that on October 5, 2012, Minister Bathiudeen had convened a meeting at his Ministry to determine the acquisition of lands from Mannar, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu districts which included the forest reserve at Pichchai Vanniyakulam also know as bound area ( Villattikulam forest reserve) located in Musali DS division in Mannar district for human settlement and allocate 80-perch each for 2,371 Muslim families claimed by Minister Bathiudeen as landless families out of 1,730 families of internally displaced persons from North and registered for resettlement.

The petitioners further stated that on May 7, 2009, on a presidential directive, 19-member Presidential Task Force (PTF) for resettlement of internally displaced persons in the Northern Province, was formulated with Basil Rajapaksa appointed as the chairman.

The PTF had been afforded with the task of resettling IDPs in their original places and to restore their livelihoods.

This allocation of responsibilities was confirmed by the Conservator General of Forests in a report furnished to the Attorney General dated November 9, 2015.


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