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Wilpattu National Park - Questions in the House about deforestion

22 March 2019 05:32 pm - 9     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Parliament was in a furor today over the deforestation of land abutting the Wilpattu National Park for the settlement of people.

Arguments broke out in the House when JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake pointed out that lands on the buffer zone of the Wilpattu National Park had been cleared for resettlement of Muslims displaced by the war and asked Minister Rishard Bathiudeen whether more lands were being cleared for this purpose.

The minister said not a single inch of land had been given to the Muslims after 2012 and asked the Speaker to conduct an investigation and punish those responsible for any irregularity.

"Appoint a parliamentary select committee and probe this matter. Rumours are being spread on television and social media saying the Wilpattu National Park is denuded. I confirm that not even a single inch had been given to Muslim people after 2012. Punish me if I have done anything wrong," he said.

The minister said about 300,000 Muslim people were chased away during the war in 1990 and they were resettled in their original lands in 2012 following a recommendation of the Presidential Task Force.

He said lands in the Wilpattu forest reserve had not been cleared for resettlement and that while the Wilpattu forest stretched into the Puttalam and Anuradhapura districts these people were resettled in the Mannar district.

"The displaced Muslim people were resettled in their original lands in 2012 based on the election register in 1990. These lands did not belong to the forest department. They were under the divisional secretariat. The lands were not cleared by the people but by the divisional secretariat before they were resettled," the minister said.

He said the then Wildlife Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa had gazetted lands which the people had occupied before being evicted by the LTTE under the forest department based on Google maps.

Mr. Yapa, who joined the cross talk, said gazetting of the lands were correct and added that some amount of forest lands had been used for expansion of the resettlement villages.

"The minister requested me to release forest department lands to expand villages for resettled people but I rejected the request," he said.

UPFA MP Mahinda Amaraweera asked whether steps were being taken to clear lands of the Wilpattu National Park for an industrial zone.

MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage said 75 acres of land had been requested for the said industrial zone and had been cleared.

Minister Bathiudeen said he had requested for 25 acres of land in the Koddachchi village and an Environment Impact Assessment was being carried out but no final decision d been taken on the matter.

Wildlife Minister John Amaratunge said the lands had been released for resettlement of displaced Muslim people during the previous regime and added that forest department lands would not be released for any purpose.  (Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera)

  Comments - 9

  • Ceylon Friday, 22 March 2019 06:21 PM

    If they lived threre before LTTE then they are ancient indegenius to wilpattu. like native American Indians. So let them do what ever they want with their forest land. You cant question them. WildAnimals are not humans. Others dont be a racist jealous.

    Polpot Friday, 22 March 2019 07:32 PM

    What the hell? Ancient indegenous? I didnt know there are building houses for Balangoda humanoids...

    Nathan Friday, 22 March 2019 10:24 PM

    Why would we be jealous at people who destroys our national resources? National park is belong to the entire nation. There is nothing racist than One group is consuming it for their personal benifits.

    Ted Friday, 22 March 2019 06:35 PM

    Why arent there any Sinhala politico who creates settlements for sinhalslese people around anywhere with signs of old buddhist inhabitancy? Like east and north parts?

    Dee Friday, 22 March 2019 06:48 PM

    Why don't the Jokers rise up to the situation? Their godfather back in 2012/13 initiated it!

    srilankan Friday, 22 March 2019 07:14 PM

    Why do not you investigate "KAJUWATTE" sinhala settlement in Wilpattue?

    srilankan Friday, 22 March 2019 07:14 PM

    Why do not you investigate "KAJUWATTE" sinhala settlement in Wilpattue?

    helayan Friday, 22 March 2019 07:21 PM

    I respect Mr. Bathiudeen so much. Why? He works for the betterment of his religion

    K.L Pathirana Friday, 22 March 2019 07:22 PM

    "75 acres of land had been requested for the said industrial zone and had been cleared". Who ever made this mistake needs a home in the forest. Moron doesn't understand it is the forestry there is no infrastructure for an industrial zone ... idiots !!

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