Nishantha rebuffs allegations of involvement | Daily News


Clearing section of Anavilundawa Sanctuary:

Nishantha rebuffs allegations of involvement

State Minister of Rural and Regional Drinking Water Supply Projects, Sanath Nishantha, while denying any involvement in the recent clearing of an area in Anavilundawa Sanctuary for shrimp cultivation, said he will take legal action against any reports connecting him to the incident and tarnishing his image.

Highlighting the speculation on social media, Nishantha said the allegations are hearsay and do not provide any names, and that he will not hesitate to take legal action against any individual or media spreading false reports.

“It has already been entrusted to a well known law firm in Sri Lanka to look into it. Accordingly, they are scrutinizing all media reports and news on the subject. If such propaganda tarnishes my reputation, I will take legal action without hesitation,” the state minister said to a group of media personnel in Puttalam, a communiqué issued by the minister’s media unit stated.

He said that this was not a direct protest but the beginning of a foreign propaganda aided by some local political elements to attack and discredit the government.

The state minister said he had inspected the bulldozed area of Anavilundawa Sanctuary for shrimp cultivation and informed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that it had not caused any eco-damage in the area.

The state minister said he had told the President that he is ready to face any form of penalization, had he involved in such event at any capacity. “All that has happened here is the removal of silt from the existing prawn pond,” he added.

State Minister Nishantha said before the sanctuary was legalized in 1998, there were a number of shrimp ponds. “Most of them belonged to the Carson Multinational Company, which was formed during the United National Party (UNP) Government from 1984 to 1985.”

“Due to the white spot disease, the company left its farmland about 2,000 acres and went abroad and villagers then resumed shrimp farming under the annual license obtained from the Divisional Secretary,” the statement read.

“Even today, some people continue to cultivate prawns, but after legalizing the bird sanctuary, the licenses for the ponds in the area were stopped. The government too lost a lot of tax revenue because of it,” it added.

State Minister Nishantha further said although there were no licenses, some continued to cultivate without giving up; and that not only prawn ponds, but there were hundreds of acres of paddy fields as well within the reserve.

“Indigenous peoples have been living on land for hundreds of thousands of years. The root cause of the problem is the fact that the government’s during the last 20 years has not given alternative lands to the traditional people. We have to give a permanent solution without applying further temporary plaster treatments,” he added.

The state minister said that there was no doubt that the Ramsar wetland is a valuable asset not only to Arachchikattuwa, but also to the entire Puttalam District.

State Minister Nishantha said he was one of the first politicians to talk about the protection of the sanctuary and had even presented a paper in this regards as a local councilor.

“However, the Ramsar wetland is not just a makeshift sanctuary for migratory birds or a wildlife sanctuary that can be confined to a wildlife sanctuary.

“Nearly 2,000 traditional families depend on the lands for their livelihood in four Grama Niladhari Divisions in the area.

“While preserving the sanctuary, we must provide a permanent solution to the issues faced by these people with regards to their livelihoods,” he said.

The state minster added that both the responsibility of safeguarding the sanctuary, as well as that of providing livelihood avenues to the people, lie in the Government’s hands.

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