FR against release of non-forest lands fixed for March 4 | Daily News

FR against release of non-forest lands fixed for March 4

A Fundamental Rights petition filed challenging the legality of a joint Cabinet Memorandum to hand over the management of Other State Forests to Divisional Secretaries was yesterday fixed for March 4 by the Supreme Court.

The Court was informed that both petitioner and respondent parties are expecting to reach for a statement regarding the petition.

This petition had been filed by G.Kapila Renuka Perera, an engineer by profession through Counsel Dharshana Weraduwage. The Supreme Court Bench comprised Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare and Justice Kumuduni Wickremasinghe.

The petitioner stated that a Cabinet decision had been taken on October 26, 2020 giving effect to the Joint Cabinet Memorandum said to be presented by the Minister of Wildlife and Forest Conservation and Minister of Environment on October 12, 2020 to the Cabinet titled “Releasing of Non Forested lands among the other State Forest lands but Conservation and Reserved Forests which are vested with the Conservator General of Forests to the Commissioner General of Land in order to handover to Divisional Secretaries”.

The petitioner stated that during a meeting held on 2020-07-01, Cabinet decided that it would be appropriate to introduce a simplified mechanism of granting permission to engage in such economic activities to minimize the hardships faced by those temporarily engaged in chena farming and other economic activities in such lands.

The Petitioner has cited the Secretary to the Ministry of Wildlife & Forest Conservation M.K.Bandula Harischandra, the Secretary to the Ministry of Lands R.A.A.K. Ranawake, the Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe, the Land Commissioner General G. D. Keerthi Gamage, the Minister of Wildlife & Forest Conservation C.B. Rathnayake, the Minister of Lands S.M. Chandrasena, the Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera and the Attorney General as respondents.

The Petitioner states that the lands concerning said circulars largely consist of forest lands and not residual bare lands and consist of environmentally sensitive areas and other ecosystems, cultural, historical and archeological places, places which provide a habitat for endangered species, etc. which must be preserved in Trust for this generation and to the Generations to come. The Petitioner states that unless the respondents are stayed from implementing the said programmes irreparable damage shall be made to the Environment, sensitive ecosystems, flora, fauna, Cultural and religious heritage, which shall have great, severe and irreparable impact on the Fundamental Rights of the Petitioner and on the Fundamental Rights of all the citizenry of the Republic as well as the said rights of the generations to come.

The petitioner is further seeking an order directing the respondents to take immediate legal action against those who are responsible to the illegal possession of said lands and to take remedial actions to restore the destruction caused to the said lands and regain possession of all the said lands which are subject to said circulars in terms of the law.