Connect with us


Fresh appeal to President to have rape of Dahaiyagala sanctuary halted



By Ifham Nizam

Nearly 20 leading environmental/wildlife organisations have teamed up to make an appeal to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to ensure the environmental security and rights of future generations of Sri Lanka by immediately putting an end to the ongoing forest destruction in the Dahaiyagala sanctuary.

Environmental Scientist Hemantha Withanage yesterday said environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts countrywide urged the government to end the ongoing environmental destruction in the country, allegedly being undertaken in the name of chena cultivation, agriculture expansion and lands for housing, etc.

“We are greatly concerned about your apparent endorsement of land grabbing, and encroachment on forests, thereby destroying precious wildlife habitats and water catchment areas,” the team has said in a letter to President Rajapaksa.

Withanage said Sri Lanka had less than 17% of true forests remaining; the rest being degraded lands or tree plantations. The remaining forest habitats were home to over 7, 500 species of flora and over 15,000 species of fauna – much of this was endemic to Sri Lanka.

Small forest corridors such as the Dahaiyagala sanctuary, the Flood Plains Reserve, etc., were very important for all wildlife and especially for elephant migration, he said.

The ongoing forest destruction was an issue the country had to deal with as it was working towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets, senior environmentalist Dr. Jagath Gunawardena said, adding that Sri Lanka had to go for foreign loans based on the performance of the17 SDGs.

There was no such thing as other forests. “Sri Lanka laws do not provide for utilising lands coming under the Fauna and Flora Ordinance Act for other purposes”.

Gunawardena, who is a lawyer, said the President, Prime Minister, Wildlife Minister or the Director General had no right to go beyond the existing laws.

Gunawardena also expressed concern about experts and professionals keeping quiet about the distribution of forest lands.

Representing Lak Sobha Sanrakshanaya (Senior Group of YZA), Samantha Gunasekera said the current development move would not eradicate poverty here, but further aggravate the existing economic problems.

Citing examples, he said the country should focus on tapping natural resources, citing examples, a mere 10 grammes on bio resources would fetch USD 3,300.

He said that Pulmuddai was full of natural resources and if nano technology was used in exploiting them in an environmentally friendly manner, Sri Lanka could be on par with Singapore economically.

The former Customs Department, Biodiversity Head also warned that forest land distribution would lead to floods and drought.

Environmentalist Nayanaka Ranwella, who returned from Dahaiyagala, yesterday, said 14 groups were carrying out forest clearance and most of them were outsiders.

“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should be held responsible for this forest rape. We urge President Rajapaksa not to do a Donald Trump. I remember what happened to President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015 and what happened to the disastrous combination President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.”.

The Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS), Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ), Environmental Foundation Limited (EFL), Federation of Environmental Organizations (FEO), Movement for National Land and Agriculture Reform (MONLAR), Protect Wilpattu, Wildlife Conservation Forum (WCF), Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Climate and Forest Action Network (SLCFAN) , Wildlife Conservation Society of Galle, Center for Conservation and Research (CCR), Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust (BECT) , Biodiversity Conservation and Research Circle (BCRC), Friends of Wilpattu (FOW), Elephant Forest and Environment Conservation Trust (EFECT) and Young Zoologists Association of Sri Lanka have jointly launched a public signature campaign in protest against the destruction of forests.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


SF claims thousands of police and military personnel leaving



By Saman Indrajith

Thousands of police and military personnel had left the services recently as they did not want to carry out illegal orders, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka told Parliament yesterday. According to the war-winning army commander 200 policemen have resigned during the past two months and 25,000 soldiers have left the army during the last two years.

“We urged the law enforcement and military officials not to follow illegal orders. We will reinstate them with back pay,” he said.

Fonseka also urged the President and the government MPs not to take people for fools.

“Sri Lanka owes 55 billion dollars to the world. Ranil’s plan is to borrow another seven billion during the next four years. So, in four years we will owe 62 billion to the world.

Ranil and his ministers ask us what the alternative to borrowing is. These are the people who destroyed the economy and society. They must leave. Then, we will find an alternative and develop the country,” he said, adding that the IMF loans had made crises in other nations worse.

“Ranil says that by 2025, we will have a budget surplus as in Japan, Germany and South Korea. These countries are economic power houses, and this comparison is ludicrous.”

Continue Reading


CEB hit by exodus of technical staff



By Shiran Ranasinghe

At least five technical personnel of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) resigned daily for overseas employment, a senior CEB official said.They included electrical engineers, electricians and foremen, he added.

“Most of them are quitting due to the economic crisis while others are simply disillusioned. Trained and experienced technical staff are in high demand in many countries,” he said.

CEB United Trade Union Alliance President Ranjan Jayalal said that the CEB had lost about 2,000 employees in recent times due to the above reasons.

“We had about 24,000 such personnel a few months ago. Now the number has come down to 22,000. A number of people had to retire on 31 December, 2022.

Continue Reading


Sajith questions sudden decision to charge Rs. 225,000 from students following NDES



By Saman Indrajith

The government had decided to charge Rs 225,000 from those enrolling at the Institute of Engineering Technology, Katunayake under the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said yesterday in Parliament.

Premadasa said that the institute awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences (NDES) and no fee was charged from students until 2023.The IET awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences under the three major fields of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, and eight sub-fields.

“This is an institute that has created over ten thousand tier two engineers. NDES is a four year programme,” he said.

The opposition leader said that the sudden decision to charge 225,000 rupees from students at a time when the average Sri Lankan family is facing significant economic challenges is unfair.

“This institute offered free tuition. We should continue this tradition. A large number of engineers are leaving the country and we need to ensure that we have a continuous supply of engineers to ensure we can maintain our essential technical services,” he said.

Continue Reading