Forest Dept.’s advice sought to ascertain if Reserve is being cleared | Daily News

wilpattu Kallaru Forest Reserve issue

Forest Dept.’s advice sought to ascertain if Reserve is being cleared

Pursuant to a writ petition filed by CEJ

The Court of Appeal yesterday directed the Attorney General to obtain advice from the Conservator General of the Forest Conservation Department to inspect whether a portion of the land in the Maraichukkaddi-Karadikkuli (Kallaru) Forest Reserve situated at the Northern boundary of the Wilpattu National Park is currently being cleared as claimed by the writ petition.

The Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justice Janak de Silva and Justice Nissanka Bandula Karunaratne made this direction pursuant to a writ petition filed by Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ).

Meanwhile, Counsel Ravindranath Dabare appearing for the petitioner sought an Interim Order preventing the respondents from clearing and or effecting any constructions in the Maraichukkaddi-Karadikkuli (Kallaru) Forest Reserve until the hearing and final determination of the Petition.

However, Senior State Counsel Manohara Jayasinghe appearing for the Attorney General informed Court that he is yet to receive instructions from the respondents.

This request is to be taken up for support on July 19.

The petitioner maintained that a portion of land in the Maraichukkaddi-Karadikkuli (Kallaru) Forest Reserve situated at the Northern boundary of the Wilpattu National Park, which is a subject matter of this petition is currently being cleared for the construction of a housing scheme which is in clear violation of the forest conservation laws and regulations in Sri Lanka.

The petitioner further stated that the Marichchukaddi-Karadikkuli Forest Reserve, being a duly declared Forest Reserve is entitled to protection under the provisions of the Forest Conservation Ordinance, No. 16 of 1907 and the National Environmental Act (NEA), No 47 of 1948.

Court of Appeal Justice Mahinda Samayawardhena had earlier recused himself from delivering the judgement in connection with this writ petition filed by Centre for Environmental Justice seeking an order to quash clearing of the Wilpattu National Park forest and constructing a housing project adjoining the National Park.

 The CEJ had filed this writ petition naming Conservator General of the Forest Conservation Department, Central Environmental Authority (CEA), Director General of Wild Life Department, Commissioner General of Lands, Commissioner General of Archeological Department, Mannar District Secretary, Rishad Badiuddeen - 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 2000 Hectares in the forest complex 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) has been cleared, divided into plots, paved roads and unauthorised settlement established making irreparable damage to the whole environment and the eco-system and wildlife habitats. The Petitioner further stated that approximately 1,000 hectares of forest in Madu, Periyamadu and Sannara area which is part of the Forest Complex (Madu Road Sanctuary and Madu Road Reserved Forests) has similarly destroyed for settlements.

The Petitioner further stated that around 1,500 families have been illegally settled in cleared area belonging to the Maraichukkaddi /Karadikkuli Forest Reserve and in the forest complex of the Madu Road reserve and Madu road sanctuary which come under the purview of 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, cleared for road construction.

The Petitioner has information that Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen has been involved in mobilizing deforestation of these forest reserves and establishing of settlement under the pretext of 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 organise forest replanting programme under and in terms of the provisions of the Forest Ordinance No.16 of 1907. Counsel Ravindranath Dabare with Nirmal Wickremasinghe appeared for the petitioner. Senior State Counsel Manohara Jayasinghe appeared for the Attorney General.


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