Under the instructions of some gem businessmen from the Okkampitiya area, about 300 workers are deployed to dig about one hundred acres of the national park using backhoe machines and mechanical gem washing machines, which is destroying the park.
These excavations are being done in violation of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance.
It is illegal to enter the National Park without a permit, and destruction of vegetation, land clearing, mining in the National Park and activities including digging are illegal and prohibited.
Any person engaging in illegal activities in a national park can be arrested without a warrant, but due to the fuel crisis, officials of the Wildlife Conservation Department have not been able to carry out operations to arrest people engaged in illegal activities.
However, these illegal miners are engaging in these excavations having obtained fuel for their machinery from fuel stations in Okkampitiya.
Ironically, raids cannot be conducted with the assistance of the police or STF due to higher officials of the not intervening in the matter.
As a result of the destruction to the forest areas, wild animals such as elephants are most likely to enter villages paving the way for human-elephant conflicts.