No clearing, construction till case is over, Forest Dept. assures court | Daily News
Kallaru Forest Reserve

No clearing, construction till case is over, Forest Dept. assures court

The Conservator General of Forest Conservation Department yesterday assured the Court of Appeal that it would prevent the respondents in a writ petition case from clearing or effecting any construction in the Maraichukkaddi-Karadikkuli (Kallaru) Forest Reserve until the hearing and final determination of the case.

The Conservator General of Forest Conservation Department made this assurance through an affidavit.

The case concerns a writ petition filed by the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ).

The Court of Appeal directed the Attorney General to hand over the concerned affidavit to the seventh respondent, Rishad Bathiudeen, as well.

Senior State Counsel Manohara Jayasinghe appearing for the Attorney General informed court that the Conservator General of the Forest Conservation Department had given an undertaking that clearing or any construction in the Maraichukkaddi-Karadikkuli (Kallaru) Forest Reserve would not take place until the hearing and final determination of this writ petition.

The Court of Appeal two-judge bench comprising Justice Janak de Silva and Justice Nissanka Bandula Karunaratne fixed the next hearing for July 30.

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 is currently being cleared for the construction of a housing scheme which is in clear violation of forest conservation laws and regulations.

The petitioner further stated that 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 the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) seeking an order to quash clearing of the Wilpattu National Park forest and construction of a housing project adjoining the National Park.

The CEJ had filed this writ petition naming 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, former Minister Rishad Bathiuddeen, the Environment and Mahaweli Development Minister, and the Attorney General as respondents.

The petitioner said an area of approximately 2,000 hectares in the forest complex adjoining the Wilpattu National Park has been cleared, divided into plots, paved with roads with an unauthorised settlement established, causing irreparable damage to the whole environment and ecosystem and wildlife habitats.

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

The CEJ in its petition said around 1,500 families have been illegally settled in 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 said permanent and temporary houses and other structures have been erected and land cleared for road construction on approximately 50 acres in the Northern sanctuary of the Wilpattu National Park, which comes under the purview of Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance.

The petitioner has information that former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen has been involved in deforestation activities in these forest reserves and establishing a settlement under the pretext of resettling internally displaced people (IDPs).

The petitioner sought an order in the nature of Mandamus ordering the first respondent to take action against the illegal removal of forest cover and to reinstate the forest lands to the forest reserve and organise a 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.

**************************************************************

Conservator General of Forest Conservation Department assures court (15:24)

The Conservator General of Forest Conservation Department today assured Court of Appeal to prevent the respondents from clearing or effecting any constructions in the Maraichukkaddi-Karadikkuli (Kallaru) Forest Reserve until the hearing and final determination of the writ petition.

The Conservator General of Forest Conservation Department made this assurance though an affidavit pursuant to a writ petition filed by Centre for Environmental Justice.

Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justice Janak de Silva and Justice Nissanka Bandula Karunaratne fixed the petition for hearing on July 30.


 

Add new comment