Illicit clearing in and destroying Vilaththikulam forest reserve, in the North of the Wilpattu National Wildlife Park
Posted on December 28th, 2017

Dr Sudath Gunasekara

28.12.2017.

Dear all Patriots,

Please read the following news item first, especially the last 2 paragraphs marked in red and there after my propositions that follow.

BY Niranjala Ariyawansha and Ruwan Laknath Jayakody

Intense political pressure exerted on officials prior to 8 May 2013, led to all the lands belonging to the Vilaththikulam forest reserve, in the North of the Wilpattu National Wildlife Park, being released to resettle people, Director General of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) Anura Sathurusinghe revealed yesterday (27).

Sathurusinghe was responding to the report by Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe, who has discovered that 650 acres of forest land at had been utilized for illegal resettlement.

The Director General made this disclosure when Ceylon Today inquired about the special report of the Auditor General. He, however, noted that he was not the Director General during that period. No environmental impact assessment (EIA) had been done in this regard, he pointed out further.

The Director General said he agrees with the AG’s findings and that he does not reject the special audit which had been ordered by Parliament. The report is now with the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

The destruction of the forests around Wilpattu has become a major issue after a coalition of environmental organizations began lobbying the government for a halt to the deforestation. Last week they staged a rally in Colombo that drew more than 5,000 people who demanded action.

Responding to inquiries made by Ceylon Today from the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), Additional Deputy Director General of the CEA Kanthi de Silva confirmed that no EIA had been done on the lands used for re settlement. Yet, there was no one who undertook to take legal action in that connection, she observed.

Sathurusinghe elaborated, “There was a recommendation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission to expeditiously resettle the displaced population following the end of the war. Accordingly, the Presidential Task Force requested 865 acres of land from the Vilaththikulam forest reserve. The Department of Forest Conservation released only 650 acres. Nevertheless I must say that it is owing to the intense political pressure brought to bear that these lands were released for resettlement.”

After the conclusion of the war, it was the Department of Wildlife Conservation which declared that area as reserve zone after acquiring it. Even prior to the Department of Wildlife Conservation’s intervention, certain forest areas had been cleared, he further added.

Additional Deputy Director General of the CEA, explaining further, said that there were a number of issues pertaining to the clearing of the Vilaththikulam lands.

“When we started receiving complaints, we sought to take legal action. No Ministry or institution was taking responsibility in this connection. Hence, that became an issue to us as we did not know against whom we had to take legal action. We were also not informed by anyone that the release of the Vilaththikulam reserve land was under a project already in place or for a new project. We were only told that the persons displaced due to the war were being resettled in their lands. Therefore, the CEA had no legal rights to issue an EIA report for housing projects,” she elucidated.

If the Government is to take a policy decision regarding resettlement in reserve lands, authorizing the EIA report will be the next step, she noted.

Meanwhile, subsequent to the Auditor General submitting a report on the land of the Vilaththikulam forest reserve being released for resettlement, Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment, President Maithripala Sirisena has advised Ministry Secretary Anura Dissanayake to prepare a report containing the background information to the issue.

Dissanayake, speaking to Ceylon Today, added that now that the Auditor General’s report had been handed over to the Speaker, it was up to the latter to decide on the next course of action and steps to be taken in this regard, which according to him, would most likely involve placing the matter before the relevant Parliamentary Sectoral Oversight Committee (SOC).

SOC is likely to summon the relevant stakeholders, including Ministry officials to discuss the issue and obtain their views on the matter at hand, subsequent to which directives would be issued by the SOC to the relevant line Ministries. The particular SOC will consider the recommendations made in the Auditor General’s report, such as whether the land which has not been fully utilized for development can be used to grow a forest and the provision of alternate land for those settled or resettled in Vilaththikulam, and also whether environmental impact assessments were conducted or not.

“What come under our purview in this matter are aspects pertaining to the land and the Department of Forest Conservation. I have been advised to go through the Auditor General’s report and have the background information and points prepared and ready. This is a complicated issue, where we have to work around certain aspects to provide a solution acceptable to all, one that is beneficial to the environment and the displaced, the possibility of returning the latter to alternate land, and how best we can come up with it.”

The Auditor General has in his recent report stated that while Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen possessed no legal authority to direct the Director General of Forest Conservation to release lands belonging to the Vilaththikulam forest reserve for the purpose of resettlement, neither did the Director General of Forest Conservation have the power to obey such an order and thereby release forest lands (in this case acres) from a reserve.

It has also been reported that those who had been thus resettled in the said area were neither displaced in the first place nor were they original settlers but instead those who had property elsewhere.”

My propositions

First of all the whole country must congratulate the Auditor General for presenting a factual report WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR AS A TRUE AND IDEAL PUBLIC SERVANT, on this clandestine political bungle committed by power hungry political parasites who have no concern what so ever for the environment or the country and also pay the highest tribute of the nation to him as the PULIC SERVANT OF THE YEAR. I hope all public servants in this country learn a lesson as to how a TRUE PUBLIC SERVANT should act in matters regarding public interest.

At the same time we also must congratulate and thank all those activists who tirelessly struggled to reveal this national crime and also the Hiru channel for lending its full support for this important issue of national interest.

Thereafter as the news item is self-revealing and packed with all evidence we must pressurize the President to take the following steps immediately.

Immediately remove all the illicit settlers and

  1. Immediately send them back to their original places as they were neither displaced in the first place nor were they original settlers but instead those who had property elsewhere” as the Auditor General has pointed out.
  2. In any case if there are any displaced due to LTTR atrocities resettle them in their original places either in Jaffna or any other places from where they were chased out by the tigers.”
  3. And demolish all buildings and restore the original forests and declare the whole area as a strict natural forest reserve.

Simultaneously

a} Expose and punish all the politicians who have brought Intense political pressure on officials prior to 8 May 2013 and even therafter, that led to all the lands belonging to the Vilaththikulam forest reserve, in the North of the Wilpattu National Wildlife Park, being released to resettle people.

  1. b) Sack Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen from the Cabinet and institute legal action against him
  2. c) Remove their Civil Rights and ban them from contesting or holding political or any other public position at least for seven years.
  3. d) Confiscate all their properties.

At the same time take actions against all the Public Officials who are involved in this crime so that at least Public Officers will understand what Public Service is and their responsibilities and duties by the country.

At the same time I urge the NGOs, Agencies and individuals who are concerned with wanton damage done to the forest reserves and religious monuments in all parts of the country, particularly in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and the Hill Country to pressurize the President

  1. To take immediate action, in the same manner, against all politician and Officials who have committed such offences and expose them to the world so that it will mark the beginning of a new Political and Administrative culture in this country.
  2. To restore all such forests and destroyed back to their original position and declare them as sanctuaries and religious places as archaeological reserves under the Antiquities Ordinance, because in the preservation of these forests and archaeological treasure lies the foundation of our civilization.

In the event the President fails to comply with this public appeal all patriotic people must deploy a countrywide non-stop civil disobedience movement compelling him and the Government to resign simply because we cannot allow the politicians and servile officials to write the death warrant of this Great nation.

2 Responses to “Illicit clearing in and destroying Vilaththikulam forest reserve, in the North of the Wilpattu National Wildlife Park”

  1. Senerath Says:

    See more pictures here ! Jassim City !

    http://www.elakiri.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1737352

  2. ranjit Says:

    We only have a parrot like talking president without action . How much evidence this spineless guy needs to take action against the culprits who ruin our forests and jungles? Is he blind or dumb? How many times Hiru and derana showed the destruction on TV? Yamapalanaya destroying the whole sinhala land without any fear or shame.
    Evil hearts have become more dangerous and care less about the rules and laws of the country and continue the destruction of our buddhist monuments and cultural places without fear or care . Yamapalakayo just watching and sits tight without any comment or action . What a pity. Sampur incident should not taken lightly. Must arrest the big guy who gave the orders to destroy the historic monument not the driver or this assistant of the bulldozer or any other vehicle . This yamapalanaya government always punish the poor not the mastermind. Politicians are involved in every crime in this land . They should be brought to justice and punished severely without any leniency. Two top rulers Sirisena and Ranil both are responsible for all the carnage that happens in this land today . Patriots should come forward to save motherland without any party politics . This is our land and we should protect it at all costs .

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