Connect with us


Rape of Sinharaja continues: Racketeers in a hurry to grab forest land – Environmentalist



Illicit felling and unauthorised ‘development’ activities around the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, following the expansion of the Lankagama Road last year were now widespread, Sajeewa Chamikara of Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) said yesterday.

Chamikara said that 85 acres in the Rosemary area at Pannila Forest situated at 231- C Rakwana – South Grama Niladari Division of the Godakawela Divisional Secretariat were being cleared and a group of individuals were clearing up 143 acres of forest land, adjoining the Delgoda Reserve situated at Suduwelipatha Village, in the Kalawana Divisional Secretariat area.

Chamikara said that those who were clearing up 143 acres of forest land were using false deeds to carry out illegal activities.

“We revealed earlier that two businessmen were clearing the Botiyatenna Elephant Corridor at Manikkawatta to construct hotels. Now, the residents of Rambuka, Thanawela, Ellagama, Handiyekade, Kajugaswatte, Pothupitiya, Kopikella and Cypresswatte villages will come under jumbo attacks as the two remaining Sinharaja elephants maraud these villages. They are likely to lose their properties and even their lives due to the hotels constructed by obstructing the elephant corridors.”

Chamikra said those were only a few incidents of clearing forest land adjoining the Sinharaja Forest Reserve by those with political power and financial might.

Most of the forest areas surrounding the Sinharaja had been earmarked to be amalgamated with the forest reserve because they were an important part of the forest network. The unscrupulous businessmen and politicians were attempting to carve out as much land as possible before those areas received the protected status, the environmentalist said.

“One of the main reasons for the increase in illegal activities in forest areas adjoining Sinharaja can be traced to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa encouraging ‘farmers’ to expand their farms into protected forest areas during his ‘Gama Samaga Pilisandara’ (Discussion with villagers) programme. During this programme he also instructed officials to change the borders of these reserves and allow farming to take place inside protected areas.”

The environmentalist also said that another reason for the spike in deforestation and illegal development initiatives was the non-implementation of a Cabinet decision on Sinharaja in 2004.

“Cabinet Paper (PS/CS/26/2004 of 22 July 2004) proposed to allow the Forest Department to acquire forests, most of which belonged to the Land Reform Commission (LRC), within the radius of 500 metres from the Sinharaja boundary. The Cabinet Paper also proposed that those lands should be acquired under Section 22 (1) F and 44 A of the Land Reform Law of 1972 after paying compensation. The Cabinet approved the proposals, but the relevant documents have been at the Ministry of Environment for decades without any action being taken on them. If these proposals had been implemented, businessmen and politicians would not have been able to grab large swathes of ecologically sensitive land adjoining the Sinharaja Forest.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

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


Govt. allows private operators to import fuel for industries – minister



ECONOMYNEXT – The Government has allowed private bunker fuel operators to import fuel for industries, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said on Friday, in a bid to reduce the burden on cash-strapped state-run fuel retailer Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).

The move comes as a severe dollar shortage has reduced CPC’s ability to import fuel and meet the demand as earlier amid long motorists’ queues for fuel.

“Approval was given to all the private bunker fuel operators to import and provide diesel and fuel oil requirements of industries to function their Generators and Machinery,” Wijesekera said in his Twitter platform.

“This will ease the burden on CPC and fuel stations providing in bulk. The meeting was held yesterday.”

Approval was given to all the Private Bunker Fuel Operators to Import and provide Diesel and Fuel Oil requirements of Industries to function their Generators and Machinery. This will ease the burden on CPC and Fuel Stations providing in bulk. The meeting was held yesterday.

— Kanchana Wijesekera (@kanchana_wij) May 27, 2022

In April, Sri Lanka cabinet has agreed to amend the Petroleum Products Act making provisions to issue licenses to “properly identified parties” to import fuel which will end an import monopoly held by the CPC.

There was a push to make the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to import its own oil as the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation was unable to get foreign exchange and the power utility ran out of cash due to lack of a price increases.

Continue Reading


Protesters ask PM to serve justice for May 09 attack



ECONOMYNEXT – Hundreds of anti-government protesters agitated in front of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesighe ’s office Colombo demanding justice for May 09 attack by the supporters of previous prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and immediate measures to overcome ongoing economic crisis to prevent a looming social unrest.

The youth-led groups which had been protesting near presidential secretariat and prime minister’s official residence in the heart of commercial Colombo shifted neat the prime minister’s office and shouted against the new government’s inaction against the brutal attack at unarmed and peaceful protesters by Rajapaksa supporters on May 09.

They demanded the new Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to implement the rule of law without being biased to any parties and serve the country.

Rukshan, a 25 years old protester said, as per the initial demands of their protests, former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from his position, but his successor should do his duties towards the country and the people without trying to protect corrupt politicians.

“When we started the protest back in April our main demand was to bring all Rajapaksas before justice and get all the wealth they have stolen from the common people of this country,”  Rukshan told Economy Next.

The protest started around mid-day on Thursday (26) and protesters’ route was blocked by police barricades on the main road in front of the prime minister’s office.

The protesters, however, withdrew from their positions and regrouped at a nearby road to go towards the Wickremesinghe’s office.

However, by the time the protesters regrouped, a court order was issued by the Fort Magistrate to stop the protest due to inconvenience to the public.

“Ranil Wickramasinghe should remember why he is here now. We’re not asking him to resign. He is here to do his duty towards this country and its people,” Rukshan said.

“On May 09, we were attacked but no justice has been served yet. That is the main reason we came today to the prime minister’s office,” he said.

“We still see queues for medicine, fuel, and gas. To be honest, there is no medicine in the market. No medicine for cancer patients. If you get bitten by a dog, then there is no medicine for you. They (the market) don’t have any of that.”

Wickremesinghe has been working over a new budget and discussing with international partners to ensure uninterrupted supply of essentials, officials close to him have said. However, it will take time, they say.

Rukshan said the country is running due to the state workers, who are working as they are being paid salaries after the government’s excess money printing.

“When that stops, then there will definitely be a revolution in this country,” he said.

“When a person goes to office in the morning, there is no fuel for the vehicle, or no public transport available. They get late and the salaries are being cut because of that. And when they come home, they don’t have gas to cook a meal.”

Continue Reading


Weerawansa’s wife gets two years for passport offence



Her lawyers file appeal challenging sentence

Colombo Chief Magistrate Buddhika Sri Ragala on Friday sentenced Shashi Weerawansa the wife of former minister Wimal Weerawansa to two years in prison. Shashi was found guilty of using falsified documents to obtain a passport.

The Magistrate also ordered the accused to pay a fine of Rs. 100,000 in addition to the imprisonment and an additional six months of jail if she does not pay the fine.

Sashi Weerawansa is found guilty by the court for obtaining diplomatic and general passports by submitting birth certificates with forged names and dates of birth.

She had applied for a diplomatic passport in 2010 by submitting false personal information which was different to what appears in her previous normal passport that expired on May 24, 2009.

Continue Reading