The construction of a Rs.600 million, five-hectare poultry farm in Nellikulama in Anuradhapura approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has received opposition from the Forest Department.
“Mr. Paskaralingam and Mr. Ratwatte in the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had given the approval, but the Forest Department is not giving me the land,” Nihal Rupasinghe, who is the investor, told Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, at the 11th Ease of Doing Business Forum last week.
Despite the objections from the Forest Department officials based on that the area has been demarcated as a teak plantation and therefore, falls under protected reserves, Rupasinghe said that he should be given the land.
“There is no teak plantation like they claim. There are some teak plants, which have grown from the stumps of previously cut down teak trees,” Rupasinghe said.
Rupasinghe already owns an egg production farm in Nellikulama and wants to set up the Rs.600 million broiler chick production plant to meet the growing demand in the North Central Province.
He said that the new venture would create 50 employment opportunities and bring the government Rs.10 million in annual tax revenue and make lives easier for the North Central and Northern Province poultry farmers, who currently have to transport broiler chicks either from the Western, North Western or Central Provinces.
Analysts expect Sri Lanka’s demand for poultry products to accelerate as the country’s per capita income increases.
Rupasinghe claimed that the land under discussion is the only suitable area in the North Central Province that could sustain a poultry operation, when Karunanayake requested him to seek an alternate parcel of land.
“There is a safety aspect. Poultry farms need to be set up far away from inhabited areas – this is because if there is a disease breakout among livestock, it could spread to humans,” he said.
However, Karunanayake said that the government has no intention of allowing land declared as forest reserves to be industrialized and asked Rupasinghe to identify another land area for investment.