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SC suspends digging of elephant trenches in National Parks

21 Mar 2023 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

  • The petitioner states that the trenches in wildlife landscapes impede the movement of all wildlife

By Lakmal Sooriyagoda   

The Supreme Court yesterday issued an interim order suspending the operation of elephant trench projects, digging of elephant trenches in wildlife National Parks. 

 This interim order will be effective until the final determination of a Fundamental Rights petition filed against the elephant trench projects.   Meanwhile, the Supreme Court granted leave to proceed with this Fundamental Rights petition and fixed the petition for argument on September 22.  

The Centre for Environmental Justice had filed this petition naming State Minister of Wildlife Protection, Director General of Wildlife Conservation, Central Environmental Authority, Inspector General of Police, Attorney General and several others as respondents.  

The petitioner state that in the guise of Human-Elephant Conflict mitigation, trenches are being proposed to facilitate natural resource extraction from Protected Areas and soil and sand smuggling.  

The petitioners further state that the digging of trenches has already commenced at Udawalawa National Park and Lunugamwehera National Park with plans for trenches to be dug along electric fence lines, without any feasibility study, EIA, Climate Impact Assessment, Archaeological Impact Assessment or recommendations by the relevant experts.   The petitioner further stated that it is reported that a large scale sand smuggling operation is being carried out under the guise of digging trenches for wild elephants in the Manampitiya and Karapola reserves on the border of the Flood Plains National Park which is under the management of the Department of Wildlife Conservation.   The petitioner states that the trenches in wildlife landscapes impede the movement of all wildlife. The petitioner said elephants that fall into deep and narrow trenches will face severe injuries, including death.   Senior Counsel Ravindranath Dabare appeared for the petitioner. Additional Solicitor General Viveka Siriwardena appeared for the Attorney General.