Industry and Commerce Minister Rishard Bathiudeen has no authority to order the Director General of Forest Conservation to release the lands of Vilaththikulam forest reserve for resettlement, according to an audit report.
The report says that the Director General of Conservative of Forest too has no power to release 650 acres from that forest as it has been declared as a reserve. It has been revealed that lands have been distributed among people who were not displaced .
Of them, 1030 families out of 1371 families had taken plots of lands though they had such property elsewhere. The report said though the lands should be allocated among people who were dispossessed due to the war, the beneficiaries were not war affected people. The Auditors have found that though they claimed ownership to these lands after 2009, they failed to produce any document proof of their residence in the area before that.
This report says that an environment impact assessment report has not been obtained and it would have obtained before clear the forest reserve of 650 acres according to the law.
It has been further recommended that the steps must be taken to allocate lands according prevailing law and identify the correct people who have no lands.
In this resettlement, the government should interfere and NGOs who are contributing money and development should do according to national policies, the auditors have recommended.(Vineetha M. Gamage)