Connect with us

News

Rape of Sinharaja  continues as demarcated buffer zone not acquired

Published

on

 

There were vast extents of land belonging to the Land Reform Commission (LRC) adjacent to the Sinharaja National Heritage Wilderness Area, and some of it had been cleared to plant tea, environmentalist Sajeewa Chamikara alleged yesterday.

Speaking about threats to Sinharaja, he told The Island that realising it the then Cabinet had decided, on August 04, 2004, to acquire and connect a 500 metre buffer zone to the Sinharaja forest. “That decision was taken as the LRC, under which most of the lands fell, had been releasing large tracts of land to hoteliers, plantation companies and other investors, thus jeopardising the future of the world heritage site.” Such action had led to the loss of habitat of endemic species and catchment forests, he said.

“It was expected to acquire 2,490 hectares for forest land. These forests were Murakele estate (50.4 hectares,) Fab Estate (181.3 hectares,) Ilumbakanda estate (567 hectares,) Morning Side estate (55.4 hectares,) canter estate (130 hectares,) Gaze estate (137.5 hectares,) Gonhela estate (137.9 hectares,) Ebaros estate (35.4 hectares,) Bakware estate (109.9 hectares,) Kondurugala estate (99 hectares) and Dambahena estate (8.6 hectares) of Ratnapura District; Enasal estate (436 hectares,) Kurugala estate (188 hectares,) Beverly estate (28 hectares) and Hemagiri estate (40 hectares) in Matara District and Homadola estate (304 hectares) in Galle District. These are lands that were released to various plantation companies by the LRC.”

Although the Cabinet had approved the acquiring of those lands, the Forest Conservation Department had not been able to do so for 16 years and that had led to the expansion of tea and Cardamom plantations at the expense of the rainforest, Chamikara said.

The environmental minister of the previous government, former President Maithripala Sirisena, gazetted the annexation of 13 proposed forest reserves to the Sinharaja National Heritage Wilderness Area. With that the total land area of the Sinharaja National Heritage Wilderness Area was to increase to 30, 000 hectares.

“This permitted the absorption of the proposed Ayagama, Delgoda, Dellawa, Delmella-Yatagampitiya, Diyadawa, Kobahadukanda, Morapitiya-Runakanda-Neluketiya Mukalana, Warathalgoda, Silverkanda, Handapanella, Gongala and Paragala reserves to the Sinharaja National Heritage Wilderness Area. Although Sirisena signed the gazette almost a year ago, it still hasn’t been published,” Chamikara said.

The environmentalist added that although former President Maithripala Sirisena had signed the gazette over a year back, it not been published and regional politicians and their business partners were planning to use the LRC lands adjoining the Sinharaja to widen roads to facilitate the expansion of tea plantations and hotels. The people who live around Sinharaja, who had been promised improved facilities, were being misled by those elements, Chamikara said.



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

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

News

Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

Published

on

Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

Continue Reading

News

GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

Published

on

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

Continue Reading

News

SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

Published

on

By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

Continue Reading

Trending