Writ petition over Wilpattu re-fixed for argument | Page 2 | Daily News

Writ petition over Wilpattu re-fixed for argument

A writ petition filed by the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) seeking an order to quash the clearing of the Wilpattu National Park forest and the construction of a housing project adjoining the National Park was yesterday re-fixed for argument by the Court of Appeal.

A two-judge-bench, comprising Court of Appeal Justice (President) Preethi Padman Surasena and Justice Shiran Goonaratne, re-fixed the petition for argument on June 5.

The CEJ filed this writ petition naming the Conservator General of the Forest Conservation Department, the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), Director General of Wildlife Department, Commissioner General of Lands, Commissioner General of Archeological Department, Mannar District Secretary, Rishad Bathiuddeen - the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Minister of Environment and Mahaweli Development, and the Attorney General as respondents.

The petitioner stated that a vast area approximately 2,000 hectares in the forest adjoining the Wilpattu National Park (Northern sanctuary of the Wilpattu National Park and Maraichukkaddi / Karadikkuli Reserved Forest Stands west ward of Wilpattu blocks II and IV) had been cleared, divided into plots, paved roads and an unauthorized settlement established making irreparable damage to the environment, the ecosystem and wildlife habitats.

The petitioner further stated that approximately 1,000 hectares of forest land in Madu, Periyamadu and Sannara area which is part of the forest (Madu Road Sanctuary and Madu Road Reserved Forests) has similarly been destroyed for settlements.

The petitioner further stated that around 1,500 families have been illegally settled in the cleared area belonging to the Maraichukkaddi /Karadikkuli forest reserve and in the forest complex of Madu Road Reserve and Madu Road Sanctuary which come under the purview of the Forest Ordinance No. 02 of 1937 as amended.

The petitioner states that several plots of land, approximately 50 acres in the Northern sanctuary of the Wilpattu National Park which comes under the purview of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, permanent and temporarily houses, and other structures have been erected and cleared for road construction.

The petitioner has information that the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen had been involved in mobilizing the deforestation of these forest reserves and establishing settlements under the pretext of the resettlement of Internally Displaced People (IDPs).

The petitioner further sought an order in the nature of Mandamus ordering the 1st Respondent to take action against the illegal removal of forest cover and re-instate the forest lands to the forest reserve and organize a forest replanting programme under and in terms of the provisions of the Forest Ordinance No.16 of 1907.

Counsel Ravindranath Dabare with Sugath Atapattu appeared for the petitioner.


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