Writ petition against Wilpattu deforestation fixed for argument | Daily News


Writ petition against Wilpattu deforestation fixed for argument

The writ petition filed by the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) seeking an order to quash the clearing of the Wilpattu National Park forest and constructing a housing project adjoining the National Park was yesterday fixed for argument by the Court of Appeal.

On a previous occasion, Court of Appeal Judge Justice Mahinda Samayawardhena had recused himself from delivering the judgement in connection with this writ petition.

However, this petition was listed to be taken up before Justice Samayawardhena yesterday as well. The petition was accordingly referred to Justice Janak de Silva in order to arrange a date for argument.

Accordingly, Justice Janak de Silva fixed the petition to be taken up for argument on January 27.

The CEJ had filed this writ petition naming Conservator General of Forest Conservation Department, Central Environmental Authority (CEA), Director General of the 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.

The 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 rea 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 a cleared area belongs to the Maraichukkaddi /Karadikkuli Forest Reserve and in the forest complex of Madu Road reserve and Madhu Road sanctuary which comes under the purview of Forest Ordinance No. 02 of 1937 as amended.

The Petitioner states that several plots of lands approximately 50 acres in Northern sanctuary of the Wilpattu National Park which comes under the purview of Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, permanent and temporarily houses and other structures have been erected, cleared for the road construction.

The Petitioner has information that the Minister of Industry and Commerce 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 organize forest replanting program 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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