Deforestation around Wilpattu national park; Bathiudeen noticed to appear before CA | Daily News


Deforestation around Wilpattu national park; Bathiudeen noticed to appear before CA

The Court of Appeal yesterday issued notice on former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen to appear in court on June 29 in connection with a writ petition filed by Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) over deforestation around Wilpattu national park.

The Court of Appeal made this order for the purpose of verifying whether the former Minister, a respondent in the petition is expecting to file written submissions against the petition or not.

When the petition came up before Justice Janak de Silva and Justice Nissanka Bandula Karunaratne, neither former Minister Bathiudeen nor his attorney appeared in Court yesterday.

The Court has already concluded oral submissions of all parties in the petition and directed the parties to file their written submissions if necessary.

The petitioner is seeking an order to quash the 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 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, the Minister of Industry and commerce, Minister of Environment and Mahaweli Development and the Attorney General as respondents.

Petitioner stated that a vast area approximately 2000 Hectares in the forest complex adjoining Wilpattu National Park (Northern Sanctuary of 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 unauthorized Settlement established making irreparable damage to the whole environment and the Eco system and wildlife habitats.

The Petitioner further stated that approximately 1000 hectares of forest in Madu, Periyamadu and Sannara area which is part of the Forest complex (Madhu Road Sanctuary and Madhu road Reserved Forests) have similarly been destroyed for settlements. The Petitioner further stated that around 1,500 families have been illegally settled in a cleared area belonging to the Maraichukkaddi /Karadikkuli Forest Reserve and in the forest complex of Madhu Road reserve and Madhu road sanctuary which come under the purview of Forest Ordinance No. 02 of 1937 as amended.

The Petitioner states that several plots of lands approximately 50 Acres in the Northern sanctuary of Wilpattu National Park which comes under the purview of Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, permanent and temporary houses and other structures have been erected, cleared for the road construction. The Petitioner has information that Rishad Badiudeen has been involved in mobilizing deforestation of these forest reserves and establishing a 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 organize a forest replanting program under and in terms of the provisions of the Forest Ordinance No.16 of 1907.

Counsel Ravindranath Dabare with Nilmal Wickremasinghe appeared for the petitioner. Senior State Counsel Manohara Jayasinghe appeared for the Attorney General.

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