Jun 06, 2022

Plundering Kebiliththa : 20 times worse than Wilpattu destruction (Pics) Featured

large scale deforestation has been taking place in the Wattegama - Kebaliththa, Kotiyagala Forest Reserve, which belongs to the Siyambalanduwa Divisional Secretariat in the Monaragala District over a long period of time with the connivance of politicians and government officials in the area, Hiru News had reported.

Convener of the Rainforest Conservation Organization Jayantha Wijesinghe pointed out that over 20 times as much destruction has taken place in Kebiliththa than the 3000 acres of destruction that was reported in Wilpattu. He noted that this destruction has taken place with the connivence of both government and opposition politicians from Vijith Vijithamuni de Zoysa to Shashendra Rajapaksa.

However, the Forest Department has taken steps to systematically stop the large-scale businessmen from occupying 20-100 acres of land.

It is against this backdrop that based on the requirement of Basil Rajapaksa who was appointed as the head of the Economic Committee that former Minister of Forest Conservation C.B. Ratnayake and former Minister of Lands S. M. Chandrasena through Circulars 1/2020 and 18/2020 had acquired the forest reserves with 3% of the forest cover in Sri Lanka and at least 50 million hectares of land (approximately 1.2 million acres) to the Forest Department.

The Rainforest Conservation Organization points out that even though the reserve belongs to such a public administration, land licenses and deeds are issued in a very subtle manner.

Under the above circumstances, 25,000 acres has been removed from its conservation areas and handed over to the Siyambalanduwa Divisional Secretary to be distributed among nearly 3000 people posing as farmers and businessmen.

The Rainforest Conservation Organization points out that according to the State Land Ordinance, giving more than 2 acres of government land is an illegal act and if land was distributed among poor farmers for cultivation, only around 6000 acres would be required.

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